In 1997, I was accepted to a gradauate program in Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. Of the 4 students accepted that year, I was one of two accepted early, and so I began my research project in June. Working in Paula Bickford's lab on the effects of oxidative damage in brain with implications for ageing, I enjoyed a wonderful summer especially since I lived right on Colfax, just a block from the lab. In August I began the fall classes, including Neurobiology (1), Cell Biology (2), Biochemistry of Proteins (3), Laboratory Methods in Neuroscience (4), and Seminar (5). There was also the required lab rotation, consuming some 20+ hours per week. The classes were outstanding, but I felt that the demand was too much and that too much emphasis was placed on volume of classes rather than quality of learning. Note that these were 4 very difficult classes, plus seminar, plus lab rotations. I spent every waking hour reading, working, and attending class, but I felt there was simply not enough time to master the subjects at the level I expected of myself for graduate level. I recently checked the curriculum for the program in 2004, and I found that the program had since changed and now it only required two difficult courses per semester rather than four.

I departed the university for a few days in October that year to give it some thought, and during that time I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (ZAMM). This book, especially this passage, encouraged my decision to withdraw from the program.