Today is the end of a very long week. Once again, I spent an inordinate amount of time during this week writing a grant to see if I can get funding for a new PhD student. I managed to get my thoughts organized enough so that I could shift intellectual gears and apply with a new project. I had debated with myself whether I should bother to apply, but like the New York State lottery advertisement says—“you can’t win it if you’re not in it”. The odds of getting your grant funded these days feel like the odds for winning the lottery. I feel like Charlie Brown being tempted by Lucy to kick the football each autumn, only to have her pull the ball away right at the moment he is about to kick it. I fall for the grant game every year, twice a year in fact, in May and in September. Hopes get raised and then dashed. You get told you’re good but not good enough. No one has to even tell you that—eventually you figure it out for yourself. The comments come back—too little international collaboration, too complex a project for a PhD student, or the project was not clinically relevant enough. I don’t want a huge research group, but you cannot do research work without helping hands. Such is the academic game. It actually hasn’t changed its face in all the years I’ve been playing it, and I can remember my some of my college professors getting out while I was in college because they couldn’t stand the pressure anymore for the little amount of money they actually made. I wonder what some of them are doing now. I guess most of them are retired by this point, or close to retirement.
No researcher is an island—and no researcher has come very far without his or her co-workers. It’s a good metaphor for life—and it has been said before me by a wiser person. No man is an island. We help each other along the way, along our respective paths. We are who we are because someone cares and cared about us. Someone has guided us, nurtured us, and supported us. We do the same for others. Sometimes we have no real idea that we have been of help until much later. Other times we step in to help others because it seems like they are floundering. But it is not always easy to know when to step in and when to hold back.
This autumn will be a busy one. I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel until the beginning of December. Then it is nearly time for Christmas. I miss summertime already—the long lazy days, the sunlight, the warmth, the not having to stress to get anywhere. As much as I like crisp autumn days, I have begun to hate the darkness of winter. Winter is too long in Norway. I guess that’s what makes summer special and memorable—there is light and warmth and we slow down. I like living at that slower pace. I sometimes wish the rest of the year proceeded at a slightly slower pace. I am trying to take some time these days to literally stop and smell the flowers—to pay attention and not just rush by. Sometimes when I walk past Ullevål hospital I notice the beautiful flower beds that are blooming now in front of the hospital. They are unbelievably beautiful. Someone cared enough to want to add beauty to daily life. I appreciate it. I have no idea how much it costs to plant and care for them, but I thank the person or persons who made it a part of the budget.