Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Big Hard Sun

One of the first movies that I saw in New York City was "Into the Wild". The movie was pretty, and I loved the soundtrack. I went with a friend I met online because I had yet to make any friends outside of work at any events, galleries, or coffee shops I ended up frequenting.

For the movie's soundtrack, Eddie Vedder remade "A Big Hard Sun" (original, remake). I've developed an association between this song and my first few months in New York -- a period of insecurity, confusion, exploration, and yes, research.

I bring this up today because as I am now into my last few weeks in Toronto, I keep wondering about who to see, what to do next, and what I'll miss most. Vanessa recently arrived in Afghanistan, Ray I haven't seen in months now, I don't attend social network meetings at IBM, and there's a few people I met back in October or November who I have never seen again. The perfect example is having American Thanksgiving with four Asian girls studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in downtown Manhattan.

"I study merchandising, what about you?"

"Oh, I'm a mathematician. I do social network analysis, looking at marketing trends."

"... I see..."

Needless to say, I never saw those four again.

And yet with all the people I miss, I have reconnected with old friends like Marcin, Alie, and Rawi... I'm with my parents every day, and I visit my sister's grave. I even started a new software project, programming it at the Starbucks on Yonge and Bloor -- a coffee shop that has now seen me develop three major software projects over the last three years.

I've been very reflective these last few weeks. One of my high school buddies recently asked me, "What makes someone successful?"

I'm thinking about what this question even means. One thing I've learned over the years is that "success", however you define it, often entails a lot of sacrifice. When I was in high school, I would have defined "success" as "traveling the world for work"... Now that I think about my current situation, where I started by living in Toronto, then Nairobi, then New York, and now moving to Oxford, I can see that even though I've managed to reach my goal of residing in a lot of neat places, I've had to say goodbye to a great many friends, join -- and leave -- social circles, and then spend my Sundays reflecting on my life while listening to MGMT.

Do I have any regrets? Definitely not, but I sure would like to bring everyone with me when I move. We can turn that Yonge-Bloor Starbucks into a big ship and live on it while travelling the world. At least the bathrooms will be nice.


vanessa said...

Dude, it's not like Afghanistan is on the other side of the world. Oh, wait...

I still maintain that a few more Tim Horton's will convince the Taliban and warlords to lay down arms. Who's with me? Then it will be safe enough for everyone I love to move here with me.

Anonymous said...

Good time. Malcolm Gladwell next book is called Outliers, and it is about super successful people.

Wojciech said...


Books like that tend to make me uncomfortable, but I will definitely check this out. I remember reading "The Dip" at the airport and it made me extremely upset because I felt I didn't learn a single thing.

Have you read "Founders at Work"? Great book -- and after reading it, I try to just "do" things rather than read about them. I will definitely suggest the Gladwell book to my friend, though.

And Vanessa,

Tim Horton's can convince pretty much anyone that Canada is awesome, eh? :)

vanessa said...

I like how Ray's comments are intelligent and mine are usually...not.