Shan Pin Koh's Blog Travel, Photography, Food, Randomness


Reflections in February

On the plane back from Shanghai to Detroit, from Detroit to La Guardia and La Guardia to MSP, I read several chapters of the Steve Jobs book. It's an inspiring book to learn about the life of Steve Jobs and the story of Apple. One of the lessons to take out from it is the need to reinvent ourselves (or company) every few years.

Looking back at my life, I had some life changing events through the years. I would remember having a 'dark period' where there wasn't much advancement in my life, similar to Apple when Steve was not at Apple. Those are the times that you learn about what's important. Then you go through a phase of change because you realize it's needed. In 2006, I started my MS in Software Engineering. The next 2 years would help change the way I think and approach problems. There were times when I stopped and asked myself if this stressed time was worth it. Well, without it, I would say that I won't be where I am today. It's a catalyst for starting the re-inventing process.

There would be times when I wonder if my life would have turned out differently had I stuck around and not force the change in job. I remembered asking myself if I was able to learn something brand new and make a difference again. The answer is yes. It was a difficult and scary time to learn a new culture but it's do-able. I remembered one of the crucial decisions during this time was recognizing that while it is good to be a programmer and good at your job, this was something that I didn't want to be stuck with again. I made a conscious decision to avoid it unless absolutely necessary. I think it worked out well.

Now I'm feeling that I'm once in a crossroads again. It's a familiar feeling. I had this feeling back in 2004 when I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue to live in the US or move home. I stayed. Again, it's hard to imagine how my life would be if I chose to move. Would I have pursued MS degree? The answer is most likely yes but it wouldn't have been the same.

However, this time around I'm thinking to myself, is family what I want now? Did I just meet my match? The person that truly challenged me as a person and someone that I can be happy with? Someone that I feel that is my equal? It's a different feeling to think about my life as someone different - someone to love and loves me back.

The question is not whether to pursue it or not but rather how. I want to make it work but life throws it challenges at you - different country, different family, job, career, etc. How would it work in the end? Will it last? So many questions and so many unknowns. I don't think there's a perfect and straighforward answer to them. Everything depends and some are interlinked.

Strange as it is but I was in a similar crossroad about a year ago. I took a walk by myself around West Lake in Hangzhou and thought about something similar but back then it was about my career and what I want to do...

If there was an easy answer to life, then it wouldn't be so difficult. It wouldn't be interesting at all. Time will provide the answers. Let's sit back and let things unfold...

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