Friday, June 9, 2017

June 9: She Promised, Artificial Intelligence, Expectations

Billy said, "Hello," to her, and she asked him if he wanted some candy, and he said, "No, thanks."

She asked him how he was, and he said, "Much better, thanks."  She said that everybody at the Optometry School was sorry he was sick and hoped he would be well soon, and Billy said, "When you see 'em, tell 'em 'Hello.'"

She promised she would.

A pretty trivial passage, highlighting the lack of real love between Billy and his bride-to-be, Valencia.  Billy does not want to marry this woman, but he is expected to, by his mother, by Valencia's father, and by Valencia herself.  Billy is just living up to people's expectations. 

I must say that I understand this compulsion.  In life, I have always been aware of people's expectations.  I got all A's throughout high school and college.  That was expected.  I studied computer science and math as an undergraduate, because my mother thought it would be a good field for me.  (Had I followed through on her advice, I might be a much wealthier person right now.)  I went to graduate school.  Got two advance degrees.  And now I teach part-time at a university.

In my last semester as an undergraduate, I took a class in Artificial Intelligence.  (That was a rather new field of study for computer science at the time.)  I knew that I wasn't going to pursue a career in computer programming.  I'd already been accepted into a Master's program in English.  That semester, I did not want to program any more.  I hemmed and hawed.  I procrastinated.  I avoided.

One week before graduation, I knew I wasn't going to pass Artificial Intelligence.  I spent three nights trying to complete my final project.  I, literally, had nervous breakdown in front of my computer.  My mother found me in the basement, hyperventilating and crying.  She asked me what was wrong.  I confessed my failure and apologized for disappointing her.

She took my face in her hands and said, "All I want is for you to be happy.  That's all.  I couldn't be prouder of you."

I never finished that final project.  I still graduated summa cum laude.  I went on to graduate school and did really well.  I love what I do now.  Love teaching.  Love poetry.  Love writing.

My mother's only expectation for my life was that I be happy.  I am.

Saint Marty is very thankful for the love of his mother.

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