Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

Deep Thoughts

I have recently been reading an award-winning research paper so that I can give a lecture on it in an advanced topics course I am taking. On the first read, I was able to get a high-level sense for what the authors did as well as a few of the details of how they accomplished it. Unfortunately, the first pass was not enough to understand how the pieces fit together. On the second pass, I tried to get a better sense of how the individual pieces worked and was partially successful in understanding how their argument worked.

Then, I began preparing notes on how I would teach the concepts in class. Upon constructing examples, I realized that there were still a few gaps in my understanding. After a lot of thought, I worked out an example to figure out what my source of confusion was. After working through it, I saw the result in its full glory and realized how the pieces of their result fit together. These eureka moments are one of the reasons I love research, and this experience stressed the importance of how forcing oneself to explain ideas to others can lead to deep thoughts.

One man who has tried to explain his deep thoughts to others is none other than Jack Handey. My parents gifted me a copy of his book a few years ago. The book is filled with many of his observations, opinions, and anecdotes. Some have shaped my perspective about the world around me.

Sometimes I think the world has gone completely mad. And then I think, “Aw, who cares?” And then I think, “Hey, what’s for supper?”

Others have made me think about my ambitions.

Perhaps, if I am very lucky, the feeble efforts of my lifetime will someday be noticed, and maybe, in some small way, they will be acknowledged as the greatest works of genius ever created by Man.

There are a few that require no further comment.

He was a cowboy, mister, and he loved the land. He loved it so much he made a woman out of dirt and married her. But when he kissed her, she disintegrated. Later, at the funeral, when the preacher said, “Dust to dust,” some people laughed, and the cowboy shot them. At the hanging, he told others, “I’ll be waiting for you in heaven– with a gun.”

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