Post-Thoughts on Good Will Hunting

To be really honest and also to confirm some ideas about me from people who know me: you guys are right, I am indeed not actually passionate about geology. Gosh, studying ugly-coloured sedimentary rocks that are not even fascinating to look at, that was never something my younger self imagined to be something I would be devoted to do anytime in the future. But now that I am taking a Master’s degree in it, doesn’t it sound like I’ve been investing too much for someone who is not even that into the subject?

The thing is, that kind of “passion” is not what keeps me going. Nearly six years being submerged into this field, I realize that I do not necessarily have to be interested and excited about the subject to keep myself being on the track. I wasn’t, and am not even looking for fun in something that I would like to study, learn, and be responsible about. Most people who know me would’ve (and even have) said, “I think your passion is in art! Why didn’t you go to art school and became an artist instead?”

And I believe my answer is also the voice of many people out there, who pursue their degree in engineering or sciences but are actually very fascinated about arts, or sports, or everything else out of their fields (or maybe the vice versa?). It is because we’ve always been aiming at self-satisfaction, instead of solely that so-called passion. And after all, we create such passion by being satisfied with what we might achieve. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Also, let’s be real. Sure enough this world also has the role of having turned us into is thinking that being an engineer or scientist or doctor might sound like you’re doing the world a bigger favor rather than if you do arts. And not because arts are of less significance than the former subjects, of course not. It would really suck living in an Earth of no art for sure. (‘Cause then it’s only an “eh”? Old but gold, right.) But the way I see it, almost everyone, to some degree, has some sort of talents in arts inherently planted within themselves. The world can never run out of artists because there’s always going to be parts of the citizens of the world whose right brain works better than their left’s. But while the opposite is also true, to let go of something that interests you and choose to fulfil a call that actually sounds like something no one will actually ever be passionate about, for instance, finding oils; would everyone do that?

No. It took more bravery to be that kind of hero the Earth desperately needs. And I’m not saying that being an artist is much more effortless, but to me, I personally have to sacrifice more of things that mean a lot to me to be who and where I am now. And that’s where the satisfaction comes from too. It’s when you think of how much you could contribute to the world, how much significance you could share to your surroundings, and how big of a sacrifice you let yourself go through for the sake of the world’s development. Yes, arts would definitely make the world a better place to live too, but some other fields challenge me more in a personal way and that’s what I am after. Satisfaction upon completing extra challenges.

You might think it’s just because I thought engineers slash scientists are cooler than artists (I’m sorry for all other types of jobs I seem to have been ignoring, but these three terms I constantly refer to are just necessary examples that are the most contrast to each side), or perhaps the money. But heck no, artists are the coolest type of people in the world for sure. And many of my art school graduates friends are already financially richer than myself at this point. So I let the opportunity of me being the coolest type of person I’ve got in mind slid down and be a complete someone else who does a thing that I’m not actually passionate about, and that satisfies me? Oh yes why not.

But seriously, what does it have to do with the movie Good Will Hunting that I posted a title with it? You might understand my perspective better had you read this post of mine. No, I am not (just) promoting my other post here, because that is indeed the proper intro for this post especially if you haven’t watched the movie after the freakin’ 20 years the movie was brought to the world. So do help yourself.

Anyhoo, watching that movie while trying to finish my Master’s thesis in sedimentology and ichnology really makes me question something. How worthy is it that I fight for all these? The main character of that movie, Will Hunting, seems to have never been bothered with such question ’cause he’s probably just the most careless genius slash arrogant prick I have not encountered yet in real life. But he makes me wonder if I should consider becoming one, with the fact that I am not even close to being as genius as him makes it even easier supposedly, ’cause that way I wouldn’t feel like missing out too much. But is that a correct thing to do, particularly in this kind of modern world we’re now trapped in where society judges us for our decisions and the world need evolving science and technology more than ever?

I remember back when I was in the 12th grader, my Mom was asking me this question one day.

“So, what do you want to major in university?”

Well, she wasn’t asking whereabouts, ’cause she knows for sure I had always been that mainstream kid who wanted to go to this particular institution in our city where she goes to work and my Dad got his Bachelor’s degree back in the day. But anyway.

I didn’t seem to be sure about what to say, so she said, “Do you want to do arts? Is that what you want? It’s perfectly fine.”

Frankly, I wasn’t happy when she said that. I kind of wished she said what a typical Asian parent like I always pictured her (and my Dad) to be would say, which is something about forcing me to go to engineering school or natural sciences school. (Social sciences, medical school, law, and everything else are out of the equation because this institution we have in our minds where I ended up going to as wished only offers natural sciences, engineering, arts, and business program.) That way, I could’ve had a better excuse if it turns out that the decision that I’d like to challenge myself about didn’t work out well. After all, I could say, “Well it’s my parents’ fault to force me into this!” But apparently, even when she didn’t, I was naive enough to say that I wanted to pursue natural sciences. Which is why now I have to act as responsible as I could towards it.

And then of course given the opportunity to sneak in, my Dad came up with this idea of choosing geology because he was a former geophysicist. Damn, still can’t let an apple fall too far from the tree, can they?

Well then, watching this movie had got me questioned, “What if I had said yes to her first question? What if I follow what Will Hunting did and have now become a happy art school graduate?”

If you ask my parents, they would say I have been showing interest in fine arts ever since I was a toddler. I utilized Microsoft Visio since I was 6 to design my dream houses, I started drawing using Windows Paint (R.I.P. buddy) before kindergarten, and so forth. So it would make perfect sense if I had chosen to go to art school, and actually done something I know I’m good at (not to brag but people do tell me I’m good at it). But I don’t.

Hadn’t I been so naive and pretended that I want a constant challenge for the rest of my life, I could’ve been happier now living a life as a cool artist (probably slash lifestyle blogger or folk musician too). I could undo all this knowledge I now have about the Earth and rocks, and that would probably make me happy still, that I had a bunch of insights about arts too. I could be like Will Hunting who ignores what society thinks he better becomes, and does what fuels him with happiness instead.

But is that really my true purpose?

After all, whether or not I am content with the option that I took, now that I’ve even taken extra years in studying it by pursuing a postgraduate degree I think the only way to figure all these things out is being responsible, particularly because I am funded with my government’s money and support to be here in Canada. And also, focusing on the output that I might gain afterwards. As a scholar sponsored by my home country’s government, of course I wasn’t referring to money for that matter; I was referring to all the answers to all questions I mentioned afore. About how significant my work is for the betterment of the world. Of my country in particular. And I’m not saying that for the sake of my image in front of the world, because that is actually the true thing that keeps my eyes on the prize.

Well, to me, arts make me happy, but it does not make me satisfied. Geology, on the other side, is the complete opposite.

And then, so be it that I decided that satisfaction is more important than happiness.

But is it?

Well I think it’s safe enough to say that everyone has their own preferences. So whether you’re a cool artist or a proud female engineer, I guess people should get to choose their own ways to save the world and serve the purpose of their own lives while their time lasts.

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