26 – another great year in my life to look forward to, another great year to look back on. Never thought I’d be in India again to celebrate another birthday. When I was a kid, I always thought that I would feel a lot older and mature in my mid-twenties than I feel now. I guess in a sense though, these few years mark the transition from boyhood to manhood, as the societal clock ticks closer to serious financial, geographical, marital, career-minded decisions.
I am certainly not complaining about being in India, but one thing I will never find here is the security and comfort of the people I love back at home. I am lucky to spend this day and many others with the love of my life, but sad that I can’t physically celebrate another year in my life with my friends and family.
Nonetheless, life is great. This past year was monumental, and I am very proud of everything I was able to do and feel. In no particular order:
I quit an amazing job at ISBX – probably one of the bigger big-boy decisions I’ve had to make thus far (in conjunction with deciding to move out of LA, moving home, and leaving America, since all those things unfolded in the span of 2 weeks). I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish there. There were many, many sunrises spent in the office to meet crazy deadlines, and a lot of self-doubt in my performance. In hindsight, while I may not be the most genius of developers or agile enough as a project manager, I was able to pull off some amazing things and lead a great team of people. I absolutely loved working with my team and looked forward to going to work to balance fucking around with getting a lot of shit done. If not for the specific skills I gained, I gracefully walked away with the confidence in knowing that I made an impact there and that I can make an even bigger impact on society.
I left LA and all of the people that tether me to security. While it is certainly not goodbye for the people that are closest to my heart, it’s crazy to leave 8 years of my life behind for another chapter. I vividly remember driving away from my apartment with all of my belongings, wondering if I was making the right decision. It is sad to think that I won’t be able to randomly drive after work to visit ACA practices, or kickback and act stupid with my best friends in my living room.
I moved back in with my family, and I started calling my parents almost everyday while I was still in LA. In college, I used to be a bit more ungrateful for everything my parents do for me, barely calling home and not picking up when they called. It makes me feel very ashamed to look back at those days, but at least I can say now that I am making more of an effort to show my love and appreciation. I am really excited to move back home after traveling, specifically to spend time with my family, cook with my dad, teach my mom yoga, hang out with my sis and cousins more regularly.
I worked out 3 times a week for almost a year, without exception. There were spurts of times in my life where I tried to work out consistently, but I didn’t really have enough of a driving motivation beyond improving my appearance. Something switched this past year, when I decided to take myself and my promises more seriously, and the thought of breaking a workout streak was more painful than enduring a short workout. I actually broke my streak the day I was packing up and moving out of my apartment.
I finished off my last two classes at UCLA, a GE that I incorrectly thought I had fulfilled, and Chem 30AL (organic chemistry). After my 5th year I kinda got over school and just decided to work for a while, with the intention of recharging and eventually finishing. It is definitely not easy working fulltime and driving through traffic to campus multiple times a day, so props to people who work their way through college.
I left America – I’ve been traveling since the end of July. Kat and I spent a month in Bali, a month in Thailand, and almost two months now in India. There is no combination of media that could ever capture everything I’ve experienced, but some highlights:
- Being bombarded and scared by all the taxi drivers at the airport
- Staying and meditating on an ashram, meeting amazing people
- Going scuba diving for Kat’s birthday
- Eating bread, shrimp chips, and ramen for a few days because our ATM card wasn’t working.
- Trekking up a fucking mountain at 3AM to see a breathtaking sunrise.
- Drinking with Tommy on the beach in Phuket and losing my glasses
- Getting open water diving certified in Koh Tao, being fucking amazed by schools of fish and a whale shark
- FOOD IN CHIANG MAI. Getting a combination of all you can eat Korean BBQ and Shabu Shabu for $4 in Chiang Mai. Fried street food. Drinking ‘buckets’ and wishing we could be cool as the hipster Thai college students next to us.
- Talking during a “silent” one day meditation retreat with a Buddhist monk.
- Our frustrations with the Indian Consulate and finally getting visas for India the day before our flight.
- Arriving in Kolkata at 3AM, driving through empty streets past homelessness and herds of goats.
- Walking along the Ganga in Varanasi and seeing all the ceremonies, cremations, families traveling from all over to bathe in the river. Walking through alleyways, playing local games, being offered opium and to buy my camera off me. Volunteering at a slum school with some of the most enthusiastically inquisitive kids I’ve ever met.
- Getting certified to teach yoga in Rishikesh. Sitting and taking in a relaxing view of the Ganga. Building a website for our yoga school.
- At least for us, India has shown us the most hospitality by far. We met the most incredibly kind people on our way from place to place. A passenger in our taxi to the Kolkata train station paid for our fare, and led us through the crowded and confusing station to our train. One of our friends at our guest house in Varanasi showed us around everywhere. We met a man on our train to Rishikesh, who, at 5AM, let us ride along in his car for 40 minutes from the train station to our destination.
I started dancing again. I always felt a little sad when people asked me if I was still dancing. I figured I have all the time in the world to freestyle in my room for a few minutes, and that there’s no better distraction-free time to start that habit than now.
I created 100 invention ideas, submitted them to Quirky, and mailed them a book. A week after my birthday, I found out that one of my ideas was chosen for development. This deserves its own post (among other items in this blog) because it’s so huge for me, so I will stop here.
In general, I am just really excited for life and what will be another great year.
- A major goal is to have 500 users by Memorial Day 2014 on my web/mobile app that is yet to be brainstormed and built. I have been gearing up for entrepreneurship for years now, and now is finally the time to make it happen.
- In a few days, I’ll be doing a 10 day silent meditation (no music, electronics, writing, talking, exercise, contact with the opposite sex, etc.)
- Kat and I still have a few months left of traveling left, tentatively Nepal next, Hong Kong for NYE with Jon, and maybe more of Southeast Asia (OR BRAZIL OR MOROCCO?)
- Quirky will hopefully have my product on shelves before I turn 27, and I will finally have turned a creative thought into a tangible reality that other people can use.
- I get to move home and get a lot closer to my family.
Life is awesome! A little late, but thanks for all the love on my birthday and this past year. I am grateful and humbled to look back on an accomplished year, and excited to live out another one.