Tiju Thomas

Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Sardar Patel Road, Chennai 600036, Tamil Nadu, India


ph. no: +91 8056456442
email id: tt332@cornell.edu or tijuthomas@iitm.ac.in

Our Research Group

Applied Nanostructures Engineering and Nanochemistry (ANEN) Research Group

ID6020 Panel Discussion notes (28 Sep., 2017)

Life and the Janus experience

A brilliant philosopher and a very good friend of mine (who is unfortunately no more), once organized an essay writing competition called "Janus Essays". He launched this competition because he found himself at the "thresholds". He had completed 50 years in his office, and was looking forward to the next few decades with anticipation and hope. He thought of himself as a man who was at the thresholds: as someone imbued in the past, while living with rich anticipation of the future. He very appropriately named the essay competition after "Janus", the two-headed Greek god whose heads face both the past and the future. He meant to say that he was currently living a Janus-like existence.

In the life of a student, thresholds are common. The student is rapidly going from one grade to the next. As years roll by, s/he accrues enough "past" experience, but s/he is also living in constant awareness of the days to come. If you are close to a threshold, you have several questions about your future. If you are like me, you are a bit uncomfortable with uncertainties that lie ahead. I like well-defined spaces, and thresholds are nothing like it.

Why am I giving this very quasi-philosophical discourse?

I am saying this, because if you are like me, you are wondering about the next step in your career and in your life. You are perhaps going from one phase to the next, while being uncertain of the time to come. Believe it or not, I experience a Janus-like existence, after submission of a paper. The paper is submitted, but the final verdict is not out yet! You are happy that it is almost done, but the uncertainty associated with the acceptance of a paper makes the wait tantalisingly difficult. If you are an academic researcher, a significant part of your life will be consumed by such uncertain waits, even as you navigate through nebulously defined directions. However the one who triumphs is the one who can be comfortable with this "Janus-like" state that is so common in the researcher's life.

We are perennial students, and thresholds are inherent to our life. The more we get accustomed to thresholds, the better it is for us. If you are currently at a threshold either because you are job-hunting, or because you are starting a company, or because of a paper-submission; I wish you the very best. I hope that you live through your own Janus experience successfully.