A decade ago, an event happened that changed my life. Some of you old friends and readershave followed the progressreports. But, honestly, it would take a full ten years for me to understand the impact and outcome of that one event. Life in many ways is like a paint by numbers book, where you can color, one tiny bit at a time but within invisible lines. The whole picture emerges much later. Perhaps Steve Jobs said it best:“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
A decade ago, today, if you had asked me today if my life would turn out the way it did — I wouldn’t have been able to answer that question. Who I was ten years ago and who I am, a decade later are essentially the same person on the outside, except for a better understanding of my ambition, my idea of achievement, and finding my level of greed.
Confronting mortality makes you ask some fundamental questions of yourself and your relationships. It makes you a lot more honest with yourself. It forces you to say no more often, for you know the fleeting nature of life, the minuscule time we have on the planet and what matters is how we choose to spend it.
My friend, Chris Michel, once remarked that we are all put on the planet for a purpose. If anything, last decade has allowed me to find my essence. The idea of happiness has become more concrete. What matters to me — people, places, ideas, pen and now the camera. These five things together have made last decade most magical. It opened the doors to a new life as an investor, who works with people he loves and gets involved with ideas that matter — which then grow up into enterprises and companies that better. It is a magical feeling — though a bit more stressful than writing a blog post.
But it is not all strawberries and champagne. Living with medicines to manage my various ills means strict regimens, and side effects often include fighting negativity, weight swings and endless bouts of cold and flu.I still fight the same demons — consumerism, excessive attachment to material things, sloth and wasting time on things like social media. I have struggled to find a closer, deeper bond with those I love, but have not been able to articulate my feelings to them as well.
It has been ten years today since I last smoked a cigarette, but I still break into a cold sweat when I smell the smoke. I have become 80 percent vegetarian, but I still fall for an occasional lamb chop. I can’t help myself from having that occasional cannoli or a biscotti, even though I shouldn’t. Ironically, the significant changes have been relatively easy to institute, but it is often the small changes that have proven to be the hardest.
So looking back at my decade, when I wonder what are the most significant lessons and what I could have done better — I keep coming back to the same conclusion.
Ask more questions. Get better information. Make considered decisions.
Looking back, I think most of my what seem to be more impactful decisions were made with more information. Those, where I didn’t explore deeper didn’t pan out as well. What does that mean? Nothing really, except better the information, more likely you are to make decisions at any given point, giving yourself higher odds of making a better call.
Ten years later, if there is one thing which has been a surprise to me is my fondness for photography, which has somehow given me a voice to share my emotions a bit more openly. For someone who had never snapped a photo till a week before Instagram launched, I know it is something I want to be part of rest of my life. The greatest gift of past ten years has been the (bonus) time spent with my family especially with my amazing nephew, lovely nieces and now a goddaughter.
Like Steve said,
You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
December 28, 2017, San Francisco
Photo by Chris Michel