Nietzsche, My Advisor, and Me

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, American author and motivational speaker.


I would have discounted words like this to the speaker being a lunatic. But there is perhaps some place between consciousness and sleep wherein lies lunacy. Or genius that’s construed as lunacy.


I have had some of my best ideas with my mind in a completely relaxed state. Intuition. Introspection. The minutes when awareness is slipping through the tendrils of my mind like gossamer silk, when they are being overpowered by dense honeyed sleep. A flash of an idea. A thought.


Flashes of a white board in my graduate lab with my advisor’s -isms, of words pouring forth from me about character building.


I am wont to proclaim and believe that doing something that we don’t enjoy and doing it well builds character. That it is good for one to do detestable tasks like dishes, vacuuming, laundry. That it doesn’t harm one. That it only makes one’s character stronger by developing patience and willpower. From the no man’s land of falling asleep one snowy night, I was jolted awake when the swirling white snow without solidified into a white board within. One of the -isms of my advisor that he liked to write on a board in the lab was a quote from Nietzsche. “What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger”. Have the 5 years I spent in the lab come to shape my thoughts so much?


I remember arguing with him during the course of writing my first paper, that a comma wasn’t necessary before “and”, and it even looked wrong to me. He told me that he was going to teach me some of his bad habits by the time I was done. Look to the title.


Has he succeeded? Is he one of the five (perhaps more) people who average out to be the present day me?



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