Your Distance - 59
After Bai Changyi’s birthday, Ting Shuang began to feel anxious about the exams in early August. This anxiety had been present for the past month, but it got worse as the exams neared. Previously, his anxiety had been masked by the big event called Bai Changyi’s birthday, but after it was over, his anxiety broke through the roof.
Anxiety was caused by stress.
Some people would work harder and revise more because of stress from exams, while some would end up obsessed with everything unrelated to studying instead.
Ting Shuang belonged to the latter category.
He had nearly 3,000 pages of courseware to revise for his first exam. The only thing he could take comfort in was that three days before his exam, he had finished reading the last page of the courseware. But the heartbreaking thing was, by the time he finished reading the last page, he had already forgotten the first two thousand plus pages.
Giving up, he came out of the study. Feeling anxious, he patted the dog, watched anime, played games, and smoked.
When Bai Changyi returned in the afternoon, the house smelt of cigarette smoke.
Ting Shuang was lying on the sofa with a pencil and foolscap paper, copying a page from his manga.
“Ting, how many cigarettes did you smoke?” Bai Changyi walked closer and saw that the ashtray on the coffee table was full of cigarette butts and ash.
Ting Shuang was exhausted, “So much that the smoke alarm went off.”
“Then?” Bai Changyi picked up the cigarette case on the coffee table and saw that it was empty.
“Then I turned off the smoke alarm.”
Bai Changyi walked behind him and watched as he irritatedly continued drawing, “Can’t revise anymore?”
“What else? I can’t live on anymore.” Ting Shuang poked at the book with the pencil and said angrily, “I quit being a human.”
Bai Changyi leaned over and kissed his ear, chuckling, “Then what do you want to be? A rabbit?”
Ting Shuang turned his head, upset, “I’m already in this state, and you’re still teasing me.”
“Okay, I won’t tease you,” Bai Changyi sat next to Ting Shuang, “Let’s solve the problem. What kind of situation are you in now?”
Ting Shuang described the tragedy that had happened with his 3,000-page courseware and said, “I feel like my head’s stuffed to the brim. I really can’t stuff anything more into it but if you asked me to say what’s inside, I can’t recall anything.”
“Can’t recall anything?” Bai Changyi emphasized the word “anything”.
“… Mm.” Ting Shuang nodded.
Bai Changyi casually asked about a concept.
Ting Shuang thought for a moment, and quickly answered.
“Huh?” He didn’t expect himself to be able to answer, “I thought I didn’t remember anything.”
Bai Changyi said, “How can you think of an answer to a nonexistent question?”
“So it’s like that…” Ting Shuang thought for a while, “It does seem to be like that. Every time I put my mind to revising, everything feels iffy, but when I enter the exam venue and answer specific questions, it’s all fine. Hey, Bai Laoban, say, am I too high-level? Like, too modest and open-minded; I actually know a lot, but I think I don’t.”
“That’s because you have no body of knowledge.”
Bai Changyi took Ting Shuang’s foolscap paper from him and drew a flowchart, “You have to figure out where what you’re learning now lies in your body of knowledge. At the same time, you must also know which aspects you’re lacking in and which aspects you’ve already mastered, and to what extent.”
He drew while talking to Ting Shuang, and soon an extensive flowchart appeared on the paper.
Some of the branches of the flowchart could no longer be extended further, as that was the current boundary of human knowledge.
“See, this is my body of knowledge. You can also try doing this, so that you know what you’ve mastered and what you’re lacking, so there won’t be situations when you aren’t able to think of anything.”
“Mm, let me try…” Ting Shuang nodded, and used the flowchart Bai Changyi as a reference to draw his own.
He wrote and erased, erased and drew, always hesitating. It took him a long time to draw a flowchart with only four solitary branches.
He looked at his small flowchart, and then at Bai Changyi’s amazingly extensive one. After comparing them over and over, he finally despaired.
“… I really don’t know what my body of knowledge should look like,” The entirety of Ting Shuang’s being seemed like it’d wilted, “… I seem to only be able to take exams.”
Bai Changyi thought for a while, and wrote down 20 different research concepts in robotics, such as ‘Motion and path planning’ and ‘Learning and adaptive systems’.
“Are you interested in anything?” Bai Changyi asked.
Ting Shuang looked down line by line. Seeing that there was nothing he liked all the way down to the last line, he shook his head dejectedly.
Bai Changyi thought deeply before pulling him over, kissing his forehead, “Let’s go, we’ll go out and play.”
“Huh?” Ting Shuang thought he had misheard, “Go out to play? Now?”
“Mm.” Bai Changyi said, “Now.”
“You’re a professor…” Ting Shuang couldn’t react to that, “Which professor would bring others out to play during the examination period…”
Bai Changyi mussed Ting Shuang’s hair, “You don’t like anything, so why am I still taking on the role of a professor.”
Extra update to thank you guys for the kofi donations! >.<