The September 2020 version of me was sitting in his room, totally conceded to the inevitability of another half-year in lockdown. After all, all the exciting things lin my life have been shut down since March - nothing would change about that, given the ongoing state of the pandemic. Right?
6 months and 3 countries later, I've zipped down and across and around the world - the most I've ever travelled in this time frame, all during a global pandemic. Nothing about this was planned. My passport was expiring soon, and I never knew where I'd be in the next two months.
In fact, the only constant that defined my journey was the ever-present unknown and never-ending chaos.
Q: Where do you see yourself in two months?
A: Haha good one.
This place is cozy. Getting too cozy.
Wake up, eat, school, eat, walk, school, eat, sleep.
My being is literally atrophying. One more day, let's endure this. Endure one more day.
An online school term is inevitable.
Man, it's been too long. Let's meet up after all this?
The next two terms will be online only.
There has to be more to my life than this.
Ding! You've got mail.
Title: [Hack Lodge] Micro-campus for projects this fall!
A school 2.0; a micro-campus to learn and create together with 30 young people filled with curiosity and kindness this fall. There will be a rigorous COVID protocol and it will operate as a bubble with no outside interactions.
I had to leave this place and go to School 2.0. I interviewed with Marley and Raffi, convinced my parents, bought a plane ticket, and headed off to Truchas, New Mexico.
On the plane ride I finally come to grasp the utter spontaneity of my decision. I was going to a place I've never been, by myself, in a pandemic, not knowing any of the residents beforehand. I could get abducted for my organs and no one will know. Oh well, let's see how it goes.
It went very well. A warm desert surrounded by sharp mountains and covered with foreign plants greeted my arrival. Everything was new; the land, the house, and especially the people. For once in a long time, I was with people who learned and built things out of an innate curiosity and passion, instead of the need or desire to get ahead in finite rat-races.
We lived in the middle of nowhere, but the house was never quiet or empty. To me as an an only child who spent much time in solitude, this was transformative.
I did a lot of new firsts here, including:
So it turned out that my impulsive decision was one of the best choices I've ever made.
Two months and many great memories later, the program came to an end. I didn't want to go back home so I asked my new friend Geffen if I could go live with him in SF, and he said yes. And so 4 of us started a road trip West to California.
Grand Canyon. Las Vegas. Death Valley. San Louis Obispo. Silicon Valley. It was crazy feeling, finally being in the places I've heard about for so long. The raw beauty from these intense pockets of memories was overwhelming. I felt awake and at peace.
I don't miss Toronto one bit.
I learned a few things:
A few fantasies broke for me during my time in SF:
I did contracting work for a Chinese game publishing company, then full stack dev work as third employee in a budding NLP startup. I lived in a company AirBnB, did a 10 day hackathon, and cooked a lot. I got a job offer from Google and a spot in a startup accelerator in Taiwan.
By now I'm sure that there are many many more inspiring people and interesting lessons/experiences/environments outside of the traditional college experience. The world is a big place, and I should explore it while I still can.
About this time, the stars and planets aligned so that I was at a crossroads. I could decide between a founding engineer position at a budding company in SF, or throw everything to the wind and go to Taiwan to do my own thing. A tug of war between my responsibilities, outlooks, and instincts ensued.
So far, I had seen prime examples of people who had followed their calling and forged an unconventional path for themselves. Inspired to know that this was indeed possible, I decided to follow my gut and try to discover myself in Taiwan.
Against all odds, I was approved for a visa, flown to Taoyuan International Airport and checked through customs, all in the midst of the pandemic.
Looking forwards, I have no answer for the why's and the how's in my life. My gut feeling has taken me this far, and I'm sure it will lead me places if I follow it unconditionally. Everything is unfamiliar and exciting, and in a way, that's quite precious. In the future, I'll always be able to visit this place, but I'll never feel the same novelty and confusion again.
So I'll take this chance to explore and find out what truly matters in my life. I'll try to build projects and friendships and lessons and memories. There isn't much time to do this either. To sum this up in my own twist of the common saying:
(you only have a finite amount of time before they expire)