2016 is coming to an end and with it another year of balances and patterns found, goals achieved and other goals appearing in the horizon for the first time and some other things both unexpected and others expected but unwanted.
I'll do the review in reverse chronological order to make it easier to get the bad things out of the way and move on to the good, the awesome, the incredible.
THe holiday season has never been a really pleasant one. I don't like the idea of gifts and I have to contend with having lost my dad for one more year every holiday season. He passed away from complications of cirrhosis of the liver and that has always factored in what I do and how I do things. This year it hit me hard; I don't know if it was the dismal political season and the eye opening revelations about some of the people I considered my close friends but it has also made me wonder about something that popped in my mind as I started writing this (12/23) and it has to do with where my dad grew up and where he lived most of his life.
Antofagasta is a small city (compared to Santiago) and if you're popular (at least during dad's high school years) you were known everywhere and by everyone in your group. Moving to Santiago must have been a shock to his system where he had to start all over again without family support, being younger than most. Don't know the details but I do have to wonder how much of an impact, if any, this life had in him.
I posted it elsewhere but there were two instances where I lost faith in him. When he declined the PhD scholarship to Spain and when he decided to stay single by choice. As it happened with mom years later it would have benefited me, doing high school and maybe a year or two of University in Spain would have led to a very different path but that's another story better told elsewhere.
Q4 (October through December)
Since late November I've been goofing off and writing and researching technologies that I had put on hold when I realized that I couldn't do much of the work I wanted at the quality I wanted while working my ass off.
I got some travelling and conferences done this year too 🙂 I was in london for 2 weeks. Part to go to the Polymer summit, part to make up what I didn't make in September (more later) and part to travel, have fun and relax. I documented the trip and the adventures, the learning and the fun.
After I came back from London I spent a week recovering and working on the get back to the grove of things before jumping into conferences up the wazoo. I was absolutely exhausted but the payout for the three conferences I attended was huge.
An Event Apart and Books in browsers opened my eyes to possibilities and potential of how do we move forward and merge all these awesome technologies to create experiences that will have large impact on our ussers.
Chrome Dev Summit is a strange beast to me. On the one had it's a great place to learn about the way Google sees the future (at least the coming year) of the web and the technologies it embraces. On the other hand it's Google's vision and it's not necessaily shared with other vendors. Most of the time it's ok... Microsoft and Opera are mostly aligned to the same vision and Mozilla and Apple have proved it's not really worth it as developers to fully interact with them...
We'll have to see where things go in this area 🙂
Q3 (June [actually July] through September)
This quarter was my dream come true. I worked at Google developing curriculum for an ILT program for progressive web applications.
It wasn't expected and it wasn't something I anticipated. It was serendipitous and it was random. Udacity posted a job offering for Google... I applied thinking I wasn't going to get it and let it sit there for a few days... thinking it was going to turn into a rejection or not hearing anything from them at all as it happened many times before.
This was also shortly before memorial day so I knew it was going to be a while before I would get my rejection. Imagine my surprise when I get an email from my manager-to-be asking if I'm interested... long story short, I'm asked to submit samples of Github repos and followed up the next day saying I was hired.
I guess I should put this in some context beyond the "fuck yeah, I got the job". Ever since I moved to california Google had seemed like the unattainable goal... the one thing I wanted that I was never going to get. Over the years I realized that working for Google was a means to an end and not an end in and of itself (and it wasn't the only means to the end I had in mind.)
It was an awesome experience. I got to travel (first time in London) and I got to enjoy working with an awesome team and doing something I was really passionate about.
The most ironic aspect of this whole "work at Google" thing is that it happened when I had given up hope on ever working at Google... go figure
Q2 (April through June)
Even though I got the book in January I didn't start reading When Breath Becomes Air until I had calmed down from the "NTT Stress Nightmare". I actually tried to read it a couple times earlier in the year but stopped as I wasn't ready.
When breath becomes air and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande both make the case that how we die is just as important as how we live and in learning how to die well some of people learn to make choices to give them the best quality of life, however long that life may be.
For me this is both a reminder of my dad passing and how much I remember the quality of his remaining days went from acceptable, to bad, to worse, to he's dead and how long (or short as you may choose to use) it was between the different stages. It was about 3 months total.
Being Mortal in particular has also taught me to cherish the living here and now. There is no reason to save yourself and your life for later. The things you'll regret are not the things you did but the things you didn't do.
It is around this time that I started looking for work again. It didn't pan out until the end of the quarter but when it did it did so in very unexpected and rewarding ways.
Q1 (January through March)
By this time it had been 2 weeks since I had left NTT and the Juniper project. I hadn't realized how harmful that project was until I was already out of there. Just like when I left FireEye 2 years earlier I realized that I had no real reason to be there.
I did put the hours and I did put the work but it went unappreciated, I was criticized for things that were fully my right to do and had little to no support from my managers.
It was a very sobering thought that, when I first started considering if I should leave or not, I realized that I left too late to do me much good. I tried hard not to burn my boats but it was very tempting to ask "why am I still here if I'm performing so poorly" when I was criticized because I was not online... apparently when I was too busy trying to get shit done for the same project to pay attention to whinny bitches... it made me think a lot. It made me think and it made me question where my priorities really are.
What I've Learned and Moving Forward
These two quotes summarize better than I ever could what 2016 has been for me. One is new and talks about how short life is and how much we don't make full use of it.
“Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past.
The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.”
— Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
The other one is not so new but I've discovered a new dimension to it. Regret is a very powerful force and it will eat you if you let it... the only way to beat regret is to live life to its fullest and without regrets.
It’s not the things we do in life that we regret on our death bed, it is the things we do not.
— Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon Commencement Speech, 2008
You can't really be joyful if you can't be true to yourself, who you are and what you stand for. A lot of the time I fall back on principles and convictions as a way to avoid taking responsibility for our lives and actions. What story am I looking for in others that my own stories are not telling?
I'm finding that, more and more, the quality of presence that I seek to cultivate is being true to yourself and respectful of differences in opinion and character. I may not respect you as much as I once did but will listen to what you have to say and then move on with my decision.
2017 includes the possibility to go back to work with Sarah and the team at Google... don't know if it'll be the exact same team but the possibility sounds really intriguing as did the compliments I got when I asked about possible projects.
If Google falls through then what? The two ideals kinda fell through and I'm not going to get my hopes up that either of them will happen. Will follow up with both of them this week (week of 1/2) and see if anything develops from there
EBay fell through because I refuse to commit to anything for more than a year without re-evaluating where I'm at and if I'm still happy with what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. I need that ongoing feedback loop and I don't know how much of it I'd get if this was a long term project.