Due to overwhelming public demand, I present Patrick Wanyoike once again. His article on long distance relationship earned him quite a number of stalkers. He carefully weaves life stories with his academic background as a doctoral student in organic chemistry at Iowa University. He is a brilliant writer; I bet my salary he will captivate your mind. In this article, he gives you a refresher course in variables…just in case you forgot.
James was rather pissed off; he didn’t get up on the right side of the bed that day. He was cranky and not looking forward to the lab that day. He had missed his first bus and if he didn’t catch the next one, he would consequently ruin his whole day. “I might as well drive to school,” he thought. It had been raining all night and the thought of driving didn’t sit well with him. So he hurriedly got dressed and ran to the bus stop; luckily the bus was a few minutes late. He made it, he got on. As fate would have it, she took the later bus too. Sitting where she always sat. She was a med school student. For months he had wanted to say something but he never had the guts to do so. He always greeted her with a smile, but not today. He brushed past her and sat down, lost in his thoughts.
Jane was her name. She had just finished med school, about to start her residency in a few months. She knew James, well not exactly. They had a mutual friend on Facebook, and one day she had seen his profile. “Single” his status said. Her heart skipped a beat. She couldn’t explain it but she looked forward to that bus ride every morning. He finally smiled at her after three weeks, mumbled a hello after another four and small talk came after another six weeks.
She always wondered to herself if there was something more or was she imagining her own things. She was lost in her own fantasy. Later on she discovered that they would be moving to the same town. They would be working at the same hospital; she found out through Facebook. His privacy settings were really bad but she took it as a sign. They were meant to be. She finally got tired of waiting and decided that she was going to ask him out. It was almost finals time and he wasn’t having any. He was practically done with school. He had just defended his thesis. She had attended; she sat at the back row. Listening attentively, he spoke so clearly, his voice was commanding. He held the attention of the audience, answered questions dexterously and earned the title DOCTOR.
She often wondered if what she was doing could be termed as stalking. But she didn’t give a hoot; she was going to ask him out this morning. She changed outfit after outfit not realizing she would miss the bus. She finally got done and looked at her watch and realized it was long gone. She got on the next bus, silently praying that he too had missed the first bus. That would be her sign that they were meant to be. They reached his stop, and there he was! Oh how wonderful! He got on, her heart fluttered; he didn’t smile and walked past her. Her courage evaporated, she wanted to walk over to him and say something but courage failed her. She decided that’s that. It was over and done with. It wasn’t meant to be. He sat there, thinking. “Why did he have to be single?” He had a lot to offer. He was smart, had good looks, a perfect gentleman. He knew how to treat a girl right. “Why couldn’t he get a girl like Jane?”
Oh Jane, they would make a perfect couple. She was everything he ever wanted, wife material. He was destined for great things, who knows maybe even a Nobel Prize but he always imagined Jane beside him. To share in his joys and take away his sorrows. But sadly, ladies like Jane never liked his type; they ended up with another doctor, a medical doctor with an MD not just one with a PhD. He knew they were headed to the same hospital. He would work in the lab as she treated patients. They were in the same department, possibly under the same boss. So far, yet so near like gold and mercury. Fate had conspired to torture him for the rest of his life. He would watch Jane get married, have children. He couldn’t. He had started looking elsewhere for another job but nada.
She got off; she was really down the whole day. Ruth, her roommate called her. She needed a ride to the airport. Jane agreed to drop her off and drive the car back home. At least she wouldn’t have to see James on the way home and wonder what could have been. She dropped Ruth off and drove back home. She passed by the supermarket, bought a few groceries. She wanted to get some wine, but a fine wine was best when shared with someone like James. Damn! She couldn’t get him out of her mind. She got in her car and drove off. She was so absent minded and didn’t even see the light change to red. She slammed her brakes and heard the sickening thud as metal slammed against human body…code blue!
He didn’t have a good day either; he had forgotten his lunch, and to add insult to injury, his wallet. He simply couldn’t believe his luck that day. Everything that could go wrong had gone wrong that day. He now had to walk home, it was cold and he was hungry. Funny thing, he thought of Jane, maybe he should have smiled at her this morning. He was utterly lost in his thoughts, he didn’t even see the car, all he heard were the squeal of brakes and then silence…. He awoke up in hospital and there she was. He must have died and gone to heaven. As he recovered, she was always by his side. He had a slight limp, a constant reminder of the accident. And he often wondered, what if had smiled to her that fateful morning? They fell in love, grew in love, swam in it, got engaged and finally married on a pristine beach, just as she had imagined. They lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, not all stories have a happy ending.
This story could have ended differently, a whole lot differently. I love science and math, and in calculus we have variables. In mathematics, a variable is a value that may change within the scope of a given problem or set of operations. What if he hadn’t missed the bus? What if he had smiled at her? What if she had asked him out? That day would have certainly progressed a whole lot differently. Would their future have been the same? In life, it’s the nondescript things that totally change the whole script. The little things that seem to have no meaning, but come together to form a beautiful picture.
Back to science, I am amazed by two elements. Next to each other on the periodic table but very different. Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (from Latin: aurum “gold”, originally “shining dawn”) and an atomic number of 79. It has been a highly sought-after precious metal for coinage, jewelry, and other arts since the beginning of recorded history. Mercury also known as quicksilver, is a chemical element with the symbol Hg (Latinized Greek: hydrargyrum, from “hydr-” meaning watery or runny and “argyros” meaning silver) and atomic number 80. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure; Mercury and most of its compounds are extremely toxic and are generally handled with care. Mercury can cause both chronic and acute poisoning. Two metals, very different properties that just differ by just one proton. Yep ONE PROTON.
A proton is a subatomic particle found in the nucleus of all conventional atoms. Mercury just has an extra one and that’s what separates it from gold. What are your dreams? Goals? Aspirations? What legacy would you like to leave when you depart this earth? Great men and women were not born. They took care of the little stuff, they did not seek greatness, greatness found them as a result of the little things they did that made a complete picture. So stop looking for that great thing, change the variables that you need to do. Ask her out, make that phonecall, read that book, be nice to people. Lose that proton and stop being mercury and realize your potential as gold! Maybe all you need to do is SMILE ….Am smiling, are you?