I’ll try to put into writing what I felt that morning. It was November the 13th, and I was tasked the night before by my superior to prepare everything, and meet her at the hotel at 6.30am on the following day for a meeting with a technical coordinator and researcher. I followed as instructed by her. I thought it was just an ordinary meeting, but it was clear to me that it was a meeting set by God and I will never forget in my entire life.
I knew that he was a known researcher and scientist.That day I felt like I was David who gets to meet Goliath, except that Goliath won 🙂
or like Steve Jobs meeting Hewlett and Packard 🙂
I felt immensely happy! It was as if I met my teacher.. and he was just inches away from me. I sat in front of him, and I had my breakfast with him. My coffee with fresh milk tasted even coffier and milkier 🙂
I was floating on air. I kept on looking at him, that I couldn’t even blink.
He asked “Why are you staring at me? Do you have a question?”
I just smiled and said, “none”.
What I learned from him was something that I will put into heart and mind forever.
He continued, “You know I am a Professor for so many years and I can really tell that an intelligent person is not someone who gives that best answer, but someone who throws the most interesting questions. And the questions should have good quality” and “it’s okay to ask”. Do you have a question?
And so I asked him, what would become the dumbest question in the world. Haha.
“Um..Sir what do you mean when you say annual crop, as you mentioned earlier?” (Yeah. Cheers to quality xD)
He paused and smiled. It was as if he was thinking, are you sure you don’t know it?
“The word itself”, and he asked me what is the opposite of “annual”?
I just smiled and look quizzical.
“You’re not good for Master’s degree yet. More so in PhD. You have to be analytical. You can’t be spoon-fed every time.” He said.
I felt that I just slammed my face on the floor effortlessly, like I agree with absolute gravity. But hey! It was the most amazing conversation that I had for decades. The message was clear and that is to be humbly analytical. Yah. It was simple but true.I guess the world really gets confused sometimes with knowledge associated with complexity. But that early morning, he taught me the real thing that simplicity is always the ultimate sophistication. You have to simplify your thoughts and just analyze and think.
He then asked me, “why are we doing research?”
I just stared again. It was like no words come out in my mouth.
“To solve problems”
Simply that. And I listened to words of someone who have done research for so long.
“You are just theoretical when the tools given to you will not be translated into something that can be used practically. If you have a tool like a ruler, you use it to measure something (he then tried to act like he has a ruler at hand and measures one side of the table) “Why do you measure?”
“To build something.”
“Not that nobody is also measuring the other side, but you are measuring in one side, and that can help in building something”
I was silent for a moment, and I looked at him with as a sense of agreement that yes..that’s true.That knowledge will be happy, if knowledge will be used.
Minutes later the official meeting started, and topics became more technical. In his words, I can hear passion and commitment in one’s craft. It was like listening to someone who is so experienced in the craft that you are just beginning to learn.
I was elated. A rational person would maybe feel bad for not answering well in front of a great scientist and researcher, more so that he emphasized the quality of asking questions. But I never felt that. I was in the apex of euphoria, because not all the time I can eat with him in one table, have conversation, and learn. And that was amazing.
I felt thankful, immensely thankful for the wisdom I learned in fraction of minutes. In that hotel restaurant, where Yirumi’s music was playing in the background, and the oriental atmosphere added beauty in that calm early morning. One of the mornings that I will truly treasure.