Thursday, May 23, 2013

Judging by appearances

A friend of mine sent this to me through Facebook. A kind shout out to Craig for cluing me in.
Yitang Zhang is a mathematician who submitted a paper which appears to make a breakthrough toward solving a mathematical conjecture. He couldn't find employment in his field, so he took a job at Subway in order to pay the bills. Think about that. A math genius could be making your sandwich.
I'm imagining a Venn diagram with three circles. The first circle is jobs that pay. The second circle is jobs in your field of study. The third circle would be jobs you hate. Jobs that you hate, pay. Jobs in your field, don't pay well... That's where my diagram falls apart. I can't have a job that we love and hate. My point is finding that overlap. The job you love, the ability to get paid doing what you love, and a job in your chosen field. That's a pretty small space to be in.
A friend sent me something like that and I don't know where it is right now. If you know what I'm talking about, shoot me a copy please.
Meanwhile back to Mr. Zhang. He has a PhD in Mathematics. That puts him in the same category as Issac Asimov. You'd think he'd be able to find a job that allowed him to use his talent. Unless of course the job didn't exist in the first place.
It's a trend I've been noticing. My wife is a certified teacher with a degree specializing in kids with special educational needs. 
She can only find work as a substitute. 
My brother in law is an engineer. He works at a paper manufacturer. I asked him what does his degree and job have in common? 
His answer? Not a damn thing.
A lot of time we're doing what we don't like in order to make ends meet. Those of us brave enough to try and do what they love often struggle to survive.
There's got to be a middle ground people, and I think there is. 
For this example I'm going to use Steven Spielburg. Now Mr. Spielburg has made some movies that critics would call 'mindless drivel', nevertheless he went on to make a lot of money.
Then he goes and makes a film like The Color Purple. It wasn't a top blockbuster like his other films. If you stacked up  E.T. against Purple, you would see one made a lot of money, but lacked in substance. Purple had some serious themes going through it and the performances he got out of the actors were extraordinary. My take on this is he makes these mac and cheese movies that people like, so he can go out and make the films that mean something.
If I ever have the opportunity to meet Mr. Zhang, I'd shake his hand. He did something to bring money in while pursuing his dream. We should all follow his example.    


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