First article for Australian Science:
Monthly Archives: July 2014
New article for The Australia Times Science magazine:
I have recently found myself subconsciously devising a list in my head of people that have gone out of their way to help me. I’m not good at asking for help, as a general rule, but I have been struck by the amount of people that have been willing to give me a hand, prompted or not. People who don’t even know me. Experts that have offered up their skills, feedback and patience. I find myself writing more and more thank you emails.
I know their reasons are not altruistic. I know it’s a favour investment. For examples, it’s in an editor’s best interest to strike a decent relationship with the writer, and researchers want their work correctly represented. It may be the work of a skilled procrastinator, where helping someone who is struggling at the start of things achieves far more instant gratification than their own work. Or perhaps someone did the same thing for them and they’re shrugging the guilt from a debt that’s not a debt.
But the reasons are still heartwarming. They are striving for truth and excellence. They are routing for the underdog. They have been inspired to act with benevolence. And it makes me happy that whole networks are based upon exchanges of good deeds.
I know it won’t stay like that – the more established you are the more hoops you have to jump through for people to be on your side. I know this from personal experience with music. If no one’s heard of them I’ll promote them wildly, forgive the raw sounds and odd mistakes. But once they are famous… well I can’t help but question whether they really deserved to get there. It’s a stupid way to think; a vestige of teenage years where refusing the popular, opting for the obscure to demonstrate musical ingenuity, didn’t make you a dick.
Anyway, that’s the hope, isn’t it? To become established. I guess the ultimate thank you would be to be able to sit there from the top of your ladder and give all those people who helped you on the way recognition; so they can sit there and feel, rightly, all warm and smug for having played a part. And then return the favour by helping the next guys.
But there’s a long way to go for me to get to that place (wherever it is), and a fair amount of doubt whether I’ll reach it. So in the meantime, how do I say thank you? How do you say “you’ve just made the world a better place”, “you’ve made my week,” “I’ve been smiling all day because of the good deed for humanity that you performed” etc, without sounding like a slightly scary kiss ass who needs to get out more? Is all I can really do for now write a really nice thank you email? Is that enough? No doubt an opportunity will arise where I can do something for them, and maybe the world will throw a little karma their way.
But I’d like to hope it is enough for them to know it has not gone unnoticed. So thank you. Thank you to those who can remember what it was like to be at the start. Thank you to all those people who encourage kindness, advocate ethics; who bestow faith in mankind, and in the future. Whether it be a point in the right direction or imparting priceless advice that will stick with me forever, thank you for splattering my path with goodwill.