A man had been in a mental institution for some years.
Finally he seemed to have improved to the point where it was thought he might be released.
The head of the institution, in a fit of commendable caution, decided, however, to interview him first.
“Tell me,” said he, “if we release you, as we are considering doing, what do you intend to do with your life?’
The inmate said, “It would be wonderful to get back to real life and if I do, I will certainly refrain from making my former mistakes.
I was a nuclear physicist, you know, and it was the stress of my work in weapons research that helped put me here.
If I am released, I shall confine myself to work in pure theory, where I trust the situation will be less difficult and stressful.”
“Marvelous,” said the head of the institution.
“Or else,” ruminated the inmate. “I might teach. There is something to be said for spending one’s life in bringing up a new generation of scientists.”
“Absolutely,” said the head.
“Then again, I might write. There is considerable need for books on science for the general public. Or I might even write a novel based on my experiences in this fine institution.”
“An interesting possibility,” said the head.
“And finally, if none of these things appeals to me, I can always continue to be a teakettle.”