Compared to my early years in college, this semester is particularly boring. Four years ago, Eric and I started a long-form writing community within the college. It spent me tons of time and it was a great experience maintaining and developing it. It was a war against the unstoppable trend of mobilization and content distribution.3 We lost the war. Three years ago, Eric, Amie and I co-founded the Stay Mag. We were hoping to revive print magazine and promote unique perspectives from the eyes of our peers. It was enviably part of the war, too. We lost, again.
But the last days were unique to me in some ways. It was a great comfort to slow down and really think about things when you have several Ph.D. offers on hand and you know you didn’t screw up your college life. And I started to think more about myself.
Prof. Andy Wong4 was one of my favorite mentors. After he delivered the last lecture of life advise, just before we were heading to the graduation gala, he posted:
I loved this quote to death. The uncertainties and the possibilities that I faced as the first batch of the student in this college were the most valuable assets. There is nothing that can come close to building things together from the ground up.
We were shaped to build things. New things. This characteristic of us lasted to the last moment: we started a graduation exhibition. Amie and Eric were the curator and designer, along with some close friends of us.6 I was technically on the board, but I didn’t have the time to devote much. The only thing that I contributed was a 3D digital art, which demonstrates the movement patterns using the anonymized wireless connection data. In addition to that, I photo- and video-graphed some documentaries that reflects our living environment.
Me working on the documentaries.
As we continued to work on the exhibition projects and deal with some miscellaneous paperwork for grad schools, the final day came quietly. The first signal from it was the graduation photo shoot. I was utterly unsatisfied with the photographer that the school hired, so I took it myself with Lucas. It turned out to be one of the best photos of myself.
Me and Lucas.
The second signal was the signs on campus about the graduation event. They appeared suddenly and I was unprepared to realize the fact that I will be leaving very soon.
The final signal was the graduation gala. We were almost certain about our life trajectories: Eric (left) will go to CMU, and probably work in Bay Area for a year or two, propose to his girlfriend, live a good life. Amie will go to Shanghai, be successful in her career as she always were in the college. And I, will move to some place called Minneapolis and live there for 5 years.
But who knows?
During my trip to Japan in late May, things happened unexpectedly: for the first time, I was in a relationship.
In July, my grandpa suddenly fell down and was in critical condition for two weeks. My mom and I, with all the relatives, were all in the hospital taking turns to look after him. He passed away (peacefully, I hope). My uncle told me that he last saw there were tears in grandpa’s eyes before grandpa lost consciousness in his arms in the ambulance. I cannot imagine how complex his emotion might be at that moment. But we knew that he was proud of all of us. Three months later, my brother had his first child, and my grandpa’s grand-grandchild.
I am often shocked by how my life wave function was collapsed to the status quo. It is largely random and shockingly fragile. A single change of mind might have led to a totally different story.
So what’s next? The stakes are high, but I don’t really care.
Interestingly enough, the instructor was a professor from CityU, who is also the advisor of someone I knew on Twitter. ↩︎
The only thing I remembered from this course is “Triple Bottom Line”. ↩︎
Obviously I am talking about WeChat taking over everything if you are familiar with the internet industry in China. ↩︎
From whom I knew Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawerence. ↩︎
I eventually gave up translating it to English. ↩︎
To name a few, Layla, WiQky, and Vince. ↩︎