In 2013, I left academia to pursue my dream of living in Japan. I haven’t looked back since; I have never been nostalgic and I do not regret my decision at all. Sporadically, I talk to an ex-colleague, so I do hear about things going on in my old scientific community, albeit with much delay sometimes.
For example, only last weekend I heard “news” about a certain professor. I knew that he had died back in 2014, but I didn’t think much of it then – after all, sometimes people just die. However, now I know that he had killed himself, and I am truly shocked.
He was one of the big names in the community, in his early 60s, hence, close to retirement. Although he appeared a bit shy, he always had a smile on his face, and he was warm and welcoming towards everybody who approached him, whether another big name or a brand new PhD student.
I will always remember his encouragement right before my very first talk at my very first conference – and we had just met that moment. To me, he was one of the kindest souls in the community. Unfortunately, they always seem the most tormented ones as well…