“What if loving something means you should mostly feel frustrated and thwarted? And then a little ruined, too, by the pursuit? But you keep coming back for more?”
―Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea
Hello, beautiful people —
This is going to be the last piece of my college series, a collection of long-form letters reflecting on what I've learned in the past four (perhaps twenty-two) years of education.
The first one was on misunderstanding leadership, the second on the sorrows and joy of searching for answers in life, the third one on finding love. Then it comes to this last one, and I see someone start getting restless, shuffling notes and doodles into their backpack, legs fidgeting.
We're almost out of time; what's something important enough to share?
I'd feel great if someone came across my writing and believed they'd learned something new. But it may even be better that someone start creating more after reading my writing, that they find comfort in knowing that a person can know so little, yet still baking, sharing, trying, making collages of a reality that's a bit more hopeful, actionable, and nutritious.
My long-time heroine Joan Didion is known to create narratives rich of slightly incongruous yet essential details. What she creates are not "symbols" for groups of people or types of events, but "emblems" that reverberate with a larger world of meaning beyond the confines of the particular story. A fireman in her story is not an individual or a fireman representing all firemen, but an emblem of the pain that's shared of all humans — the condition of existence. The emblem does not illustrate or represent — it evokes.
I hope what my writing evokes is a bond shared between all of us through our chasing, reaching, and drowning in the ocean of the unknown. I wish such bond to transcend our social, geological, and even temporal bondage.
At this moment, I don't know whether what I'm writing would be of interest to you, and you don't know it's 5AM in LA, and I'm pouring my heart out in a dimly lit room. What I do know is that you are trying to get through the day feeling you've done your best, and you probably know that I'm trying too. What I do know is that regardless of how wild you dream and how far you've climbed, you'd still be haunted by a sense of loss and a yearning for meaning, and you probably know that I'm trying too.
How hard is it to admit that you don't know to someone you want to impress? How tempting is it to pretend that you know? How endless the chase feels when no one seems to be running near you? How scary it is that our biggest challenge may never be overcome, as it's precisely those limits that define who we are? How rootless we feel when the Why are our predicaments, pitfalls, and mistakes only displayed by paintings guides in museums, or encrypted in a forgotten story covered in dust in libraries (or a hidden corner of the internet)?
Why are emotions and sentiments exclusive to poetry and the arts, and why are impact and scale exclusive to technology and commerce? Why are enterprises with bold narratives composed of empty promises? Why are the heart-wrenching verses crying for console only heard by a few? Why is it that soft voices have to be softened? Why becoming a hero means killing a part of ourselves? Why do we think we have the power deciding what needs to die, only to realize that choices are often times overthrown by the louder, more assertive voices of others?
These are just a handful of questions that my education left me asking. You could be reading and think I should be giving more tangible advice about learning, designing, writing, working with founders, making products, self-help hacks and blah blah blah, but you end up seeing and asking more questions, and you may feel at a loss, but what matters to me the most is that you do know that you are not alone. That is the most important thing I want to share: the bond that's shared between you and me at this exact moment.
We may not have exchanged names or smiles, but through this piece of writing, we've made a tacit agreement that we will together make the best out of the flaws, uncertainties, and unknowns of the world.
I love you,
For the past week, I've been preparing for some major upgrades for this newsletter becoming a community to discover and connect creators and thinkers who are navigating and making the future.
Lots of brainstorming sessions after, this will soon take up a more concrete form.
Reply & let me know if you or anyone you know want to be a part of this. I’ll reach out for a short interview.
I love you. 💙
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