The idea of staying in academia forever had always frightened me, mainly because I usually like to dabble in many different things. I’m good at some of them but I can’t devote my heart and soul to single pursuits very well. I started to feel that being a professional astrophysicist was requiring the sort of commitment I wasn’t ready to give, so finding good alternatives became a major priority over the past year or so. I won’t get into the details of why I decided to leave academia since the web has recently been flooded by such essays from all imaginable fields. Suffice it to say that sometime in the spring I found something that I think will be rewarding in the long-run and as soon as the deal was sealed I was rejoicing and packing my academic baggage.
But, I had committed to attend a conference in May more than a year earlier and had long since purchased all tickets and made the arrangements etc. so this was one last thing I absolutely had to do. It helped that the location was intriguing: a fancy resort in the Seychelles. You know the Seychelles already though you might not realize it — when your macbook throws on the cheesy screensaver with all the tropical island photos: they are all taken there (see below).
It seems crazy now, but I didn’t really want to go on this trip. I was very honored to be invited to come to this special conference, and to be surrounded by some of the people who have been a huge inspiration to me over the past ten years. But, spending time afterwards laying around on sandy beaches sounds like a nightmare to me most of the time. From the moment Molly and I arrived on the tiny island of La Digue, however, I was fully absorbed by the island flow (we spent the first week in a five-star resort on Mahé island for the conference — not many photos from there, but it was gorgeous). On La Digue, there are only a few cars and not very many roads. People ride around on bikes, mostly at a very leisurely pace. There are sounds of Reggae and its Indian ocean derivatives (e.g. Seggae) echoing among the palm trees. Chickens roam the forests and roosters play call-and-response during the night. Wild chickens, who apparently have nothing and no one to fear. The most dangerous creature is apparently some centipede that leaves as much as a welt on your skin. The air is a constant 23-27 degrees, cooling off in the evening just enough that the slightest breeze is enough to make it comfortable. Apart from soaking in the sun and the smells and sights and sounds, there isn’t much to do, even internet is a bit of a pain to come by. All this means your mind can really just freely wander and focus on things that matter. I don’t recall being more relaxed ever in my adult life.
Below are some photos from this awesome trip. It was our last big hurrah before the arrival of our new family member (Lev, born on September 13).
You can see my last words on some topics dear to my heart here.