It’s just about time to take a turn on the road of life.
I’ve been traveling for almost eleven months. Taiwan is great so far after only 4 days of being in Taipei. Nothing new. The feeling I get from this place: the glaciers of Hong Kong, Macau and Japan have melted and re-frozen to become Taiwan. The sound infrastructure supporting the abundance of commercial businesses – 7 Eleven, Family Mart, Sukiya, Starbucks, McDonalds, Louis Vuitton* – housing the wage worker just trying to get by is both comforting and uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that I already know this kind of rigid life, comfortable because there’s nothing to worry about and I can focus on self-actualization. Is it time to go back home? “Get your @$$ back home” was my Mom’s response after sending her a copy of my passport following Trump Travel Ban mayhem. “Don’t lose your passport! – you aren’t white! They might not let you back in!” …. Moms.
(On the bus trip from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei: oh cool, a Porsche. …We’re on a highway in the sky…. What a disaster it would be if the bus went over the barrier crashing onto the road below? Why’s that guy’s AC blowing on me? I need to change seats.)
A girl told me last night that once new places no longer felt new to her she knew it was time to go home.
I remember a particular moment walking the halls of the animal facility at Temple’s Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC). Medical Educatioin Research Building (MERB)- 5th floor. Hand-me-down khakis to match a hand-me-down collared shirt and next-life shoes. Next-life shoes are shoes from a family member that has passed on, so technically, they’re not a hand-me-down. Some people may feel weird walking around in their dead Uncle’s shoes. Shoes are shoes. If there’s still use for something, why not use it? He’d be happy I was making use of his shoes.
A couple of mouse cages are under my arm while the sunlight streaks in through the giant windows, creating a gentle warm-your-bagel-in-the-conventional-oven feeling as the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) encompasses my body with a comforting warmth. As I walk down the hall to deposit the soiled cages in the cleaning room, I look out at the sun through my face mask and my surgeon hat.
‘Who would have known 3-4 years ago spending time in the chemistry lab would have earned me a spot on the Boss’s team. Had my parents had the foresight that I, a young boy who would only eat soy sauce and rice, would wind up undoing nature’s work and sewing it back together? What else was there in the world for me to see and experience? Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. Would it be a bad life if I spent every two years doing something totally new?’ The spectrum of life.
Recent Past Life (Present)
Like the flip of a coin I’m sitting on the patio at Digiquarters, my workaway.info gig for the month. Across from me the boss is buried in his laptop. To my right is his good friend; he’s here to have a meeting with me. He’s here to discuss his work of 10 years. And somehow I’m the link (they’re hoping) to help propel their cancer diagnosis device into new markets including the United States. I’m to play a critical role in the next stage of their growth.
‘How could this be?’ I think to myself as we trickle through a power point presentation displaying a comparison of images obtained by either histology or Ocular Coherence Topography (OCT). It was as if I was back at the CVRC looking over my boss’s shoulder, staring at his computer screen with nonplussed eyes. But this time, my brain remembered the time-consuming process to create the images.
‘How am I understanding what this guy is talking about?’ Yes, I had to ask some questions to clarify my memories and to learn new concepts but it was rather surprising to be where I was. Grasping the idea that his technology could change the landscape for Systemic Lymph Node (SLN) cancer diagnosis was both exciting and baffling. This was an opportunity to disrupt the market. This was an opportunity for me to understand that the market could be disrupted by his product; it was simply a matter of walking the right path in the maze, to take the right steps to get his product to market.
It’s ironic how my past life experiences in sciences were highly relevant to me at Digiquarters, a co-living and co-working space for entrepreneurs – in Taipei 7 years later.
We’ve all listened to the Steve jobs’ commencement speech.
Facing the Future
Luck comes to those who are ready. The diligent are ready.
*Are you the breadwinner? Be a breadwinner rather than a leatherwinner. Buy bread. “Honey, my job is to buy the bread…. not the leather and gold. Gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free OK for you?” Simple.