AMS – Day 7 – Meaning and Resolutions

I found a post I wrote almost 10 years ago about a set of workshops I attended at Stanford continuing education and, perhaps not surprisingly, has aspects that still resonate all this time later.

I've been debating internally what's next. I just can't see NTT as a long term career. I like some of the people but the information is so compartmentalized that is almost impossible to have a good preparation strategy and people tend to freak out a lot easier than they should. Not my kind of place.

But even if it was, this trip has taught me that there's never enough time to do everything you want so why should you stick with those things you don't? The experience of being a beginner (and being a stupid beginner at that) was so liberating that I can't wait to do it again... and soon.

Would I take the risk of climbing Kilimanjaro like Scott did? Where am I placing my comfort level this time around? How about next time?

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

You're doing this for yourself. Not your parents. Not your lover. Not your friends or the people around your world. I've always said I'm doing things for myself but it wasn't until a month ago when I decided I was going to Amsterdam that it actually became true.

It's been a liberating experience. When I told my mom I was coming to Amsterdam I fully expected a shitstorm and a half. I didn't get it and that worried me and it freed me to do things that I would not have considered earlier. Barcelona and Ibiza are real now, not just shit you put in the bucket list to maybe, possibly, get done in an unspecified future.

From this perspective this is, again, scary as shit and exhilarating as hell 🙂

"The process of learning through life is by no means continuous and by no means universal. If it were, age and wisdom would be perfectly correlated, and there would be no such thing as an old fool -- a proposition at odds with common experience."

John Gardner -- Speech at Oberlin College, Ohio,1958

There are times when what we want is literally under our noses and we don't realize it. The poem below puts it in striking detai and it makes me want to hit my head against a wall for being so stupid!

Missing the Boat
By Naomi Shihab Nye

(Different Ways to Pray - Breitenbush Publications, 1980)

It is not so much that the boat passed
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window,
the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.

The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.

But you had this idea you were going by train.
You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.

And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.

The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy--
at which point you probably realized
you had always loved the sea.

Looking outside my hotel's window early in the morning or late at night give me a sense of stillness, a desire just to look out and see how much the world exists and is without me. That stillness has always bothered me, has always been something to fight... be busy, be in the world.

I've learned that you can be in the world without the busyness of the world. I used to laugh at meditation and found myself very quiet (although surrounded by people) in a bench near a bridge in Amsterdam, in complete silence and in complete peace.

Sunset in Amsterdam my last night there

Sunset in Amsterdam my last night there

Keeping Quiet
Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about...

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with

Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Running Shoes as a metaphor for starting over. From

Running Shoes as a metaphor for starting over. From

The running shoes are my metaphor for today and for what I want to do with the rest of my life going forward. Obstacles are learning opportunities in disguise. Think about the marathon runners; they overcome obstacles that very few people in their sane minds would willingly face…. How many times we see marathon runners in pain that, just from looking at them, would keel us over? Yet they press on, there is nothing more important than the race itself.

This time I've had the advantage of reading comments as they happened rather than having to wait to read everything when I got back home. SOme of them are positive and some of them make me go back years, places and people. At first when I read them I got angry and said to hell with the person in question but then stopped to think that if I had started traveling earlier I might have done it with her.... it didn't happen but it would have been an interesting experience.

AMS – Day 6 – Reflections on life and death

I hate to turn dark in my reflections but this week it's been hard not to. Diferent channels started filtering the news that Scott Dinsmore passed away in a very freaky accident while climbing Kilimanjaro... as someone put it, the mountain claimed another warrior this week.

I can't claim he and I were friends but he's one of the reasons why I'm writing this in Amsterdam rather than being sullen at home wondering if I would have enjoyed the event. Reading Live Your Legend and the Good Life Project, along with Tess Vigeland (whom I've spoken about at length elsewhere) that set me in this path of adventure and discovery.

Death and I have this strange relationship. I don't mind if she takes me... I've come to terms with the fact that it's just a matter of time before she comes get me, but what hurts the most is that she comes for the people who least deserve it in the most unexpected places... and she leaves those around the people she takes unscathed to pick up the pieces.

Make sure you life is worth living.

Make sure you life is worth living.

Yet Scott was never the one to shy away from doing what he wanted and making others reach for the stars.

AMS – Day 5 – Walking around town in search of sunrise

So we just hold on fast
Acknowledge the past 
as lessons exquisitely crafted
painstakingly drafted
to carve as instruments that play the music of life

for we don't realize
our faith in the prize
unless it's been somehow elusive 
How simply we choose it
the sacred simplicity 
of you at my side

vienna teng -- Eric's song

my legs are sore, twisted my ankle and scrapped my knee. But it was one of the best days in a long time 🙂

It was a day of exploration and a day of discovery. I made it to the Apple Store and then walked around different places. I didn't have a plan so the walk was unconstrained by time and expectations. I went from almost breaking my neck to museums to homeless world soccer cup.

I've seen this before. Never thought I'd see it here

I've seen this before. Never thought I'd see it here

The more I walked the more I wanted to stay. The more I walked and saw the builldings around me the more I wanted to stay and explore further. I may still do it... my body is back in the US but my mind and my spirit are still wishing they could have stayed.

The reflections and meditations will continue for a few more weeks. It's impossible not to.  But even if it was, the perspective I've gained from my week in Amsterdam is priceless and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Did you know that when rowers stop rowing they put the paddles on their laps? I didn't

Did you know that when rowers stop rowing they put the paddles on their laps? I didn't

Everywhere I looked was new. Everywhere I went it was the first time (even in places I visited more than once.) Everyone I met was a stranger I met for the first time...

Love the architecture. Wouldn't mind living here :-)

Love the architecture. Wouldn't mind living here 🙂

AMS Day 3 – Here We Go

make your life a worthy one

Not having a laptop has forced me to slow down and actually enjoy the day as it unfolded. It still sucked not to have a laptop for the code labs but you know what, it was awesome on its own way.

I didn't get the answers to my Polymer coding questions but was able to work in a group and get someone else started in Polymer and get them started on their own adventure.



i walked to the venue which was an adventure in and of itself. i wasn't afraid as I thought I'd be. but i was exhilarating. everything was a new experience and everything was new again. I felt like an explorer and, for once, i was ok with it. it may have helped that the walk wasn't a long one but it was a fruitful one

AMS – Day 2 – Busted laptop.

Wonderful, coming to a tech conference and the laptop gets busted on the first day here. It has its good side... I got a good long walk this morning and was able to find the apple store without major issues, the opened and I was able to get an appointment for the same day.

The news about the laptop wasn't so good. Apparently the logic board fried. They have a quality program for them but it'll take 3 to 5 days. Le big sigh, now I only have to hope I'll get it back before I have to leave.

On the way back I walked past the street of my hotel and got to see a lot more of this part of Amsterdam than I would have otherwise. Again the idea of being a beginner and how much it changes your perception of things, people and yourself

SFO to AMS — Day 1 (B – 13)

I'm writing this on an airplane (a KLM 747) on my way to Amsterdam, one of the first spur of the moment trips I've taken as an adult, and it's just dawning on me... There is no reason why I can't enjoy more of this and do it on my terms.

I was watching Armin Only's Intense roadmovies (recorded while Armin was on his year long tour. The ones that caught my attention, and that I hadn't seen before, were the Brussels and the closing Amsterdam shows. They made me realize something: Why not?

Why not explore the world? It's out there and you're not getting any younger... it's never to late to start but it may be too late not to.

Why not do it on my terms? I like NTT but it's not what I see myself ding for the next 3 to 5 years.... I want to be able to work from wherever I want. I want to have the flexibility to travel and be in places and be able to do.

I've mentioned before that my work at NTT was not the start of a new stage but a continuation of the exploration I started when I left FireEye. Who are you? What do you want to do?

I'm far from home yet I feel alive, I feel in control of... me.


One of the advantages of flying in a Dutch airline is that they assume their DJs and even the national airline has DJ music and Armin Only videos... One of the songs in the Armada Deep Night music selection was this little gem. It has made me think and it has made me reflect.

Schipol Airport

All I can say is wow! It's a city in and of itself...

Pictures can't really do justice to the vibe I got from Schipol

Pictures can't really do justice to the vibe I got from Schipol

It certainly gives you perspective, doesn't it?