I reserve IWJIFOASTTSY (pronounced: ihh – wii – jiff – foast – see) posts for very important people. I will not produce many of these posts; they are reserved for those truly amazing people whom you meet only occasionally in this world. Consider this my (gender-neutral) version of man crush. People who grace the pages of a IWJIFOASTTSY post are those who live astounding lives and affect the world in unbelievable ways.
This particular IWJIFOASTTSY post is about Hiro, a good friend of mine from my undergrad days on the hill. Hiro studied physics with me in one of the more, err, rigorous departments in the country. At times our program could feel like academic indentured servitude. Other times it was worse. Survival is an apt word I would use to describe the courses we took. Most of us bitched and whined about our work. Enter Hiro.
Hiro is a genius, mathematically speaking. This is not why I am writing this post about him. Hiro was also the hardest working person I met during my undergraduate years. This was much more interesting. His was not a “nine to five” hardworking attitude. Hiro was around-the-clock. He was a secular, working phenomenon. Think of the Marlboro man. Got that picture in your head? Ok, well Hiro makes the Marlboro man look like pansy-pants-captain-lazy, on welfare.
“All work no play” has a negative connotation in society, but Hiro’s persona was very different. He was not a nerd who knew nothing of the outside world and used academics as means to retreat from society. This man chose his drive and imparted it on those who had the fortune to know him. If Hiro’s passion was anything else, I am sure he would be equally successful. I, for one, am glad he has not expressed an interest in bike racing!
Why should you care? There are lots of smart people, and lots of smart people who are also hard working. I think you should care because Hiro will never write a post like this about himself. He has a modesty which hides accomplishments that would kill most people to hold inside. His grades (hint, they start with an A and end in a +) are only a minuscule piece of a man who selflessly helps his friends and expects nothing in return. The old adage says genius is a burden. Hiro carries this burden amazingly well.
Fairness is a topic which fascinates me. Was it fair I would get home, dead tired from a 60 mile ride in Ithaca’s icy grip, and have to stay up all night doing stupidly tedious <commutation | relations> ? Was it fair the liberal artsies could go out dranking (sic) while I was stuck in the library on a Sat. night? Is it fair I get to go to school while some more-qualified, less-whiney person picks roses in a field in South America? Woe. is. me. Something tells me Hiro does not share the same sense of entitlement that so many, myself included, possess. He was the person I thought about at 3AM when it seemed like the whole world (even the Engineers!) were in bed and I was stuck with another quantum mechanics problem set. If I was up working, I knew Hiro was up working, only harder.
Hiro is going to MIT in the Fall to start a PhD in physics. Irrespective of his brains, they don’t know how lucky they are to have him.