It Is What It Is…

Hello everybody! It’s been a busy week for me at the U. It’s great to be back in what is a break from a seemingly endless cycle of analyzing research papers mixed in with the occasional stupor of staring into empty space and contemplating the meaning of it all, in what is an effective cocktail of scientific education that is my PhD so far. In fact, the busy-ness of it all has molded into a slightly routine affair over the last eight years of my life in academia, and that’s exactly what I’m here to talk about today. Isn’t that great?

At the ripe age of 26, I already feel like an old man running through the wheeling seasons of the years. With each year’s passing, I bear witness and welcome the arrival of a fresh batch (and ready for the picking) of students jumping out of the proverbial frying pan that is high school and unknowingly (but optimistic nonetheless) into the fire that is university. At the same time, I bid farewell and sink into a boat of nostalgia on those good friends who continue onward in their singular adventures beyond university, and wherever they deem life should take them.

University, in many ways, can be likened to a pit-stop. It is not a necessary one, and for the ones who are offered the chance for it and take that opportunity, it may be a short or long-term visit. Some could even consider it to be a rite of passage while for others it may be a trial through fire or as my good friend Zuko would put it, an Agni Kai!

tumblr_mbjhq0GkdI1rzgg82o2_250

But beyond everything else, university is an experience. With every end that comes to pass, there is the beginning of something new right around the corner, and amidst a plethora of mixed emotions: laughter, sadness, anger, relief, melancholy, love…there endure the countless memories rendered complete in an unforgettable experience.

I’ve had my fair share of adventures over the last eight years, going back to 2009 and all the way to where I’m now in 2017, comprising my time at university. I can relate various stories in what would be a compendium of tales to share since then. But that would be too long of a story to tell so in my own liking as your “griot”, I will share what I can of what was (and to a certain degree still is) my life as a student at university.

YEAR 1: In search of “One Piece,” the grand adventure begins.

Embarking on an adventure was really what it was. I left my family, and set foot in Canada in 2009, beginning the first year of my studies at the University of Alberta. It all started with me getting lost on my first day of classes, and running about the streets trying to find my way to the right building, before eventually settling into a class only to realize it may not be the right one. An adventure that began with a misleading compass, but eventually finding the right pinch of curiosity to spur me onward to an endless horizon that sprang forth ahead of me in the dreams that I wished to seek. That was pretty much my first year: coming to terms with the fact that the journey was real.

YEAR 2: Facing my first COLOSSAL obstacle.

An adventure without any obstacle is quite boring, and as the second year of courses came around, I would finally face the first of my many challenges, mostly revolving around balancing my studies while working part-time. I would learn that the world is bigger than what I had previously thought. I would meet others of great intellect in my field, and at many times feel dwarfed by my own inabilities. But most of all, I would learn to never give up. No matter how colossal the problems felt in the heat of the moment, I would strive to be strong for the sake of achieving my dreams.

YEAR 3: Sinking In Self-Doubt

tumblr_mpg6tqSrq81sqb4xeo1_500

With the progression of every year, university grew into an endless stream of assignments, and I struggled to stay afloat. Bearing the brunt of my own personal struggles in an identity crisis that followed in the wake of a lost friend, I began to view the world differently. Where there were dreams and a never give up attitude, I began feeling the fatigue of it all, sinking into the tediousness, unable to connect with the original purpose that had brought me to university.

YEAR 4: Getting Back On My Feet By Letting Go

You can always count on family to be there for you when in trouble. I had my father on that day when I just needed to let go of it all, and while there wasn’t much to be said, I realized that the doubt that seemed to plague me was nothing more than an elusive catalyst that motivated me to keep pushing, and understand that there is nothing wrong with redefining myself and my dreams. I would soon find myself sitting in a packed auditorium of students waiting to receive my undergraduate degree. I can’t say I was happy. Things hadn’t gone the way I had hoped in the years prior, but the spirit still remained in me to keep seeking an answer beyond the persistent questions. University, in that manner, was as much about asking questions in class, as well as about myself, my dreams, and what really made me happy. I found my answers by letting go and taking a break.

YEAR 5: Trying Something New

f457f6fad5691d1681469c65d248ec9d--beautiful-anime-art-beautiful-sky

Learning to let go was difficult, but I eventually got my way about doing it. Doing so, I redefined my road, trying something new in my life for a change. I found a partner to join in my adventure, meeting as we did in the crossroads. Moving forward to the future, I reassessed my dreams, thinking back to what I had lost and what I had gained through my experiences over the last four years, and finding new purpose in making my own path I decided to pursue graduate studies in a field and topic of my own interest.

YEAR 6 & 7: Reinvigorated Purpose

tumblr_inline_olp8dbFUrp1szd0uo_500.gif

The following two years would pass in bliss as I engaged my Masters degree (which was VERY different from doing an undergraduate degree). There was a measure of intellectual freedom and space that followed with my graduate studies which was quite unlike the hectic lifestyle of my undergraduate years. I made the most of it. Of course there were ups and downs but for some reason things just didn’t seem as difficult as before. In retrospect, I could attribute this to the fact that I believed that nothing could seem to phase me worse than my own self-doubt, something that I had learned to overcome and master. With that being said, the road only stretched ever forward, inviting me to reach for the stars.

YEAR 8: From Our Last Summer To A Little Bit Of Everything

d9e809af0125d222ab3768bc201ecd0ad834ab1b44fb5db4c95b4d1b9f7e918a

And so, I arrive at where I am now.  Finding a particular love in writing, I push forward to a bigger goal to be a science communicator, and toward a long-term goal in retiring as a writer and mangaka. I chose my PhD to be a platform for that dream, and in the grand scheme of things that is what motivates me. In this vein, university, FOR ME, has essentially been a proving ground of sorts to find my place.

My journey here is yet to end, with three more years ahead during which I hope to finish my PhD degree. I look forward to it. I say that not because the story will end soon but rather with the realization that as long as I keep pursuing my dreams, wherever they may take me, the journey is itself the destination. With that thought, I find my own resolve to put my all into what I love, reminiscing every once in a while happily on the memories of our last summer, and enjoying a little bit of everything that life has to offer.

Advertisements

Passage Of Time…

Gazing out the window, I observe the tempestuous motion of clouds in the sky. The chill of a wet breeze strikes my skin as I swing along with the rhythmic motion of the trees in my neighborhood, dancing to the progressive wind. Relaxing in the comforting solitude of my humble abode, my reflections render a view across time, allowing me to travel back, and revisit the nostalgic memories of the past that led me to my current life.

A journey that began in a small corner of the world, I awakened my dreams at the sight of the luminous lamps of fire that lit up the night sky of my hometown. Contemplating on the questions that beset my curiosity, I stumbled forward, on and on, desperate to seek answers. Soaring upon the wings of my ambitions, I ventured forward into the unknown, finding strength in the arms of three beings without whom I would not be the man I am today (Mom, Dad, Sis, I love you).

Bidding farewell to our last summer, I would pave my own path in life, meeting various personalities along the way, experiences with frequent beginnings, and ends. Reinventing myself over, and over, I eventually discovered my grounds in who I wished to be in the place of another’s heart, completing a journey that brought me full circle to the little bits of everything I found in her, and appreciated in life (Thank you, Leina).

Time waits for no one…and so I wish to fall briefly into the wrenching melancholic, and bittersweet nostalgia of all that has come to be in my life so far. To the friends, and family I have met, and who have supported me along the way I give you my deep-felt thanks. Though we may be distances apart, seeking our own ends in life, our memories together will forever remain in my heart.

Now, as the tides of time push me forward, I find my resolve in the joy of our times together, and remembering those happy days we shared. Embracing the present that is built upon those memories, I find my reason to smile, thankful for all that I have been given in life. Alighting on my 26th birthday, I look toward a new, and grand horizon of adventures to follow. Thus, I’m led forward by the me of tomorrow, who holds my hand, and filled with dreams of the future, but supported all the way, by the me of yesterday, who holds all of our memories together, and follows right along…in what has been my life, or rather a passage of time…

tumblr_static_antqz5eyf0o4og88wckkkw0gg
Cherish the memories of the past, Embrace the present, and happily Anticipate the future…Time may progress inevitably, but it is our choice to make this life, a moment that transcends eternity…

Turning 25…

I am now officially 25 years old. I’d celebrated the annual turn of my biological clock (yesterday) which culminated in the usual exclamation (courtesy of a close “friend” of mine):

joey-30th-birthday-3.gif

I have a habit, on the eve of my birthday, to recollect, and contemplate upon the memories of the year prior. This year’s celebration came with a twist, as I found myself looking ahead instead to the goals I’ve committed to, and hope to realize by my 26th.

The shortlist would include:

(1) The completion of a new book (as well as the start of a bunch of writing projects spanning various genres such as manga, science fiction, and politics).

(2) The completion of my Masters degree (and the subsequent pursuit for a PhD, in Robotics).

(3) A family reunion in the near future, along with various opportunities for short trips around the world to exotic locations (time-permitting).

It’s an ambitious endeavor, but I’m more than ready to see it through to the end. Having saved up some money to gift myself on this occasion with a portable keyboard (a Yamaha PSRE-W400, to be specific), I’m hoping to play out the melodies of my life of the next year as a beautiful composition,

200_s.gif

that I could one day look back to, and just go,

Jokes aside, I’m very happy. I can’t thank my family, and my girlfriend Leina, enough. You have both supported me at every turn. You are the best! So how did I celebrate?

To be frank, it was quite simple.  I had a great time with Leina, during our Shakespearean date, to a live staging of Romeo, and Juliet by the FreeWillPlayers at William Hawrelak Park (a show I highly recommend to anyone who is in Edmonton.)

IMAG2490
The stage was set for the beautiful Shakespearean tragedy at William Hawrelak Park.

The play was a wonderful reminder of the literature study I had done on the same, almost seven years ago in high school. The project’s requirement was a critical analysis of the play’s major themes, in a report of maybe a few pages. I took things to the extreme, submitting instead, a 50 page act-by-act analysis, along with a personal statement, to my distraught professor.

2509492_1331687326180.42res_370_314
I “really” appreciate your enthusiasm, but really..?

Having thoroughly enjoyed the show, it wasn’t long until I took a leaf out of Romeo’s quips,

“If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”
KWKQEmYNMwkeEscjKhdb53fn
That’s what I’m talking about!
to woo my partner. Rightfully so,  I was bequeathed my gift, all thanks to your eloquent words, William!

kissing_chibi_base_by_catsoupbases-d599xxt.png

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the date. Walking back home from the park, against the backdrop of night, Leina, and I had an open view of the sky, bereft of urban structures, and the flickering dance of stars that grace the heavens during the summer season. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
The stars provide a sense of eternity, in their constant appearance.  I can’t say the same about my life, always in motion, and inviting change at every window of opportunity. Learning to accept this was a difficult process, and played a significant role in my struggle to come to terms with my identity. But, in the end, I’m well aware that without such a struggle, I would not be the man I am today, nor would I be surrounded by the people who have supported me every step of the way.
25?  It is an interesting number. I highly anticipate the adventures that lie ahead.
I’d like to thank my family, my friends, and my partner, Leina, for all their love. You all made my day.
original.gif
ARIGATO MINNA!!