People can often point to a number of stages of their lives. Childhood, high school, college, marriage, middle age.
My life has been defined by these stages in my mind and they are marked by extraordinary (at least to me) changes
1-4 years : I was raised by a nanny in rural China because communist China believe that the family is not important and split up my parents by sending them to work in different parts of the country. Apparently I was not treated well, but I don’t remember any of this.
4-9 years : I was living with my mom and my sister and I still remember that to the best part of my life. We lived under the Communist ‘love’. We lived on food rations, but life was good, people were decent and I flourished as a leader in my class.
9-10 years : I moved to Hong Kong waiting to immigrate to the US. I think I was adjusting to the Cantonese language and shell shocked at the cultural change. Also our family lived in a 10×10 room, with a big column in the middle of the room. And we had shared bath areas.
10-14 : I moved to the US and this part of my life was perhaps the ‘worst’. We lived in Chinatown for the first 2 years. My parents were constantly working to make ends meet. I didn’t speak a word of English and was harrassed by kids. I was involved in fights. I shopped lifted. Didn’t learn English well. My grades were just average
14-18: Highschool was when I excelled at school but was still a loner. I had little pieces of papers in my back pocket tracking the end of each school year becaus I wanted the school year to end. I did some horrible things to my body to numb the pain of feeling so alone. This was the time when I went wild on exercising. I was perhaps the best guy in school doing situps, finger pullups.
18-22: College life at UC Berkeley was a liberating start for me, I did well in school whenever I wanted to. I found CS to fit me really well and fell in love and got married.
23-29: Got an internship at SGI and flourished there for 6 years, but I was a workaholic.
29-now: Got a job in Yahoo! and flourished here. But was a workaholic as well. Finally accepting that working with computers is my talent.
31: Kate was borned. She gave me a focus for my life.
34 : I got divorced, my life had a wake up call and my perspective changed drastically and I began to focus on self introspection.
34-36: I’m learning to take good care of myself. Telling my parents how much they have meant to me in my life. Rebuild my relationship with my sister. Surround myself with a few close friends and truely help them realize their dreams. Learning to fall in love with myself. Open myself to strangers, co-workers.
Now: This weekend I was shopping in Chinatown and I felt very at home. Like when I was 11 years old again. Living in Chinatown, shopping, yelling to the store owners for fresh fish. I feel like I’m given a chance again to live my life and start from the beginning like I was 11 years ago. Would I repeat the same pattern? I feel happy and alive and perhaps that is enough.
Someone told me that perhaps I’m getting back to who Tony really is, I’m getting back myself when I was 4-9 years old. When I felt a sense of belonging, when I flourished under the communist ‘love’
This has been a very liberating post. It was mainly for myself. I’ve been meaning to write this down and it has calmed me.