Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Of course we researchers complain a lot about the many downsides of our academic life. It is true it is a stressful job, that we all work like hell, late at night, often during the week-ends, that we take few holidays and that we don’t even get the high salaries our level of studies would entitle us to in private companies, nor the even the appreciation of the society to compensate for our all-too-often sacrificed personal lives.

True enough. But as I write these few lines in transit in Tokyo, about to meet four members (or ex-) of our research group for a mightily interesting congress in Australia, while most of the rest of the team is at another meeting in Hawaii, I have to ponder these gloomy thoughts, don’t you think?

Don’t get me wrong, these congresses, however exotic, are no real vacation. As I write this, I haven’t slept in 32 hours, and I probably won’t get much sleep in the next 36 hours either. And very probably I’ll come back a wreck, exhausted by 5 days of scientific interactions in a marvellous foreign city I won’t get to visit, and by the 40+ hours trip back that will be followed straight away by my normal (ie hellish) week of work.

Yet, being a researcher means a lot of positive things, starting with total freedom (at least in my country and institute). I repeat: TOTAL FREEDOM. I can work on whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want. I get paid to answer my own questions, to learn interesting things all my life, to meet brilliant colleagues. And yes, to travel the world. I don’t have to wear a costume to work, to bow to a dictatorial boss, to worry about being late or similar puny things. The sacrifices that I do, I do them willingly, and they are amply compensated by the satisfaction I take from my work and my interactions with my colleagues.

Freedom is arguably the foremost thing humanity seeks throughout the world. It is also perhaps the most important feature of research, and the most appreciated aspect of my profession. I forbid you to say otherwise.


My personnal vision of hell