I don’t know that this story fits the query for this Chapter, but I offer it anyway.
A few years ago I was minding my academic business, largely doing what I had been trained to do: research in the basic biophysics of proteins. This work took me in a number of directions (as it still does), often guided by the interests of other researchers who come to me with problems that are perhaps amenable to the primary research technique which I perform. In this way I have been fortunate to study a very broad range of very intellectually interesting problems. And my work life might have gone on in this fun and interesting way for a long time.
But one of the lines of investigation was quite divergent from the rest. It came as a single idea. It was more ‘applied’, even practical in nature. It involved exploring the possibility of discovering a cure or prevention of a disease that causes tremendous suffering and death among the World’s poor. But there were reasons to think that I’d not succeed at this venture – this would be a field that I’m not trained in; I was only a little familiar with it; I was probably too old in most peoples’ minds to switch research focus so dramatically. Together, these reasons would make my credibility quite slight – especially to the funding agencies who would have to pay for the work to have a chance of being anything but only a slight, laughable effort.
But I really did not hesitate – at least not much. I assigned my entire research group to the new effort. I naively wrote research grant proposals in my newly chosen field. And we, the entire laboratory, worked hard. Results were not quick, but when they came they were beyond my expectation, almost beyond my hope. Eventually funding did come, and it looks like the original idea may turn out to be practical.
Will the “new project” work, really? Will it come out ahead of the many other wonderful ideas that other researchers are pursuing? How much does that matter? I don’t know the answers to those questions. But this I do know: I am now following in the Light in my work, and my work is a very large part of my life. Was all this a “Change of heart, despite resistance?” I don’t know. But this I do know: I felt called to this new direction, and in it I have found joy that I never had in my work before.