Six months.

It’s been six months since my last major piece of writing, and we’re almost halfway through 2017. I’m writing this in the hopes of getting back on track.

Over the past six months, I’ve spent considerable time thinking and deliberating. Rather than dive deep into another personal project or book or podcast, I’ve had a bit of a sobering reminder. The reminder is that everything in life has a defined opportunity cost. In other words, if I’m doing X, it’s time spent not doing Y or Z.

In 2016, I spent considerable time reading books and writing a book of my own. But in the process, I neglected certain things from my life. Things like spending quality attentive time with people I care about, staying in shape, and putting the right financial plans in place. Or being more focused on my work and giving it the proper amount of mental energy. Meanwhile, I’m doing my best not to seek validation and compare myself to other people too much – the dreaded “I’m X years old and I haven’t done Y yet” syndrome.

In the six months, several things have happened:

  • I got married.
  • I turned 35.
  • I got into the habit of doing more exercise in the morning, and eating slightly better.
  • I passed two years at Microsoft.
  • I started brainstorming ideas for tech side projects to launch in my spare time.
  • I pondered the meaning of life, the basis of my faith, and how spiritually disconnected I am.
  • I went through periods of anxiety, doubt, unhappiness, and entitlement.

I say happened instead of accomplished, because events in life are just events. I don’t weigh any great significance to each one, other than the fact that I did whatever that thing is. Chemicals in my brain have conspired to give me a wide range of feelings. If there is one mantra I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it would be: don’t get too high or too low. Life has its unique ebb and flow, and the struggle defines us. Easier said than done, especially when it comes to the wide range of emotions that we experience as human beings.

You may be wondering – how can marriage NOT be of great significance? I believe it is significant, but it was a natural progression between the two of us. It felt right – and that’s why it felt just like a checklist item in our lifelong journey together. The ceremony was fantastic, and despite all the anxiety and stress leading up to the big event, the big event happened with nary a hitch. People have asked me what it is like to be married – and for me, the answer is it feels the same. I consider that a good thing, because chasing emotional highs and lows is not the way I operate.

Maybe a little bit too much was going on, leading up to the wedding. We traveled back to Beijing immediately following the ceremony and reception. For the first time in my life, I felt absolutely exhausted for an entire week, and wished to do absolutely nothing. For a whole month afterwards, I felt under-utilized and frustrated at myself for not trying to do more. I experienced inner conflict. There’s a balance between being deliberate about starting things (a.k.a. opportunity cost), and not doing anything at all. In the process, I’ve spent way too much time in my head – and that’s where the emotional swings and what’s the meaning of life have popped into focus.

In some ways, I think I’m at my happiest when engaged in a project. But I’m not sure if I should get back to that, and which project. And is happiness the goal?

So many open questions. I suppose I’m writing this for myself, more than anything else. If you’ve read this far, however, let me know if there’s anything from the above you’d like me to elaborate on. It would at least give me some more opportunities to write!

Oh, and lest you get the wrong idea – I’m still filled with optimism for the days ahead, and gratitude for the learnings that I’ve accrued. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that writing helps me work through a bunch of things. We tend to project the best of ourselves on the Internet, and I’ve never been shy about sharing anything that’s going on. Life isn’t always great – I know that – and this is just my little journey that I need to work through. I’m no different from anyone else, and I have confidence that I will learn more about myself in due time.

Peace,

James

 

 

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