aaron gayah

just a personal photo blog and journal.

Ten Weeks

She always found it curious how she could spend hours perfecting a document on screen only to find the printed version riddled with errors. In this instance, her agony was due to the carefully-chosen scarlet-colored theme being reproduced as an inelegant dull red on paper, rendering the embedded white modern Sans-Serif font illegible. She frowned. This could not pass. She began again.

At one point, the whole situation felt strange to her. Past aspirations had never amounted to anything because she was always too busy, preoccupied, or something else. So although she was fully captivated by those ideas once upon a time, they would inevitably fade into nothingness, victims of inaction. This time was different - in fact, she had started off with a burst of energy and inspiration she hadn’t felt in years. However, only a few weeks later, her doubts had managed to catch up to her when her momentum stymied. But slowing down didn’t mean stopping altogether. She had already charted the workflows and derived the organizational structure necessary to manage it all, with everything thus far supported by the requisite analyses and stated assumptions. But there were new challenges now.

Financial strategizing would have to go beyond fundraising - it had to also navigate the obstacles identified from the onset and those that would crop up along the way. As naive as she was, she was adamant that the figures and projections be realistic. There’s a world of difference between concept and reality, and her plans had to incorporate the essences of both for success. So she researched numerous online courses and decided to spend the bare minimum to gain the necessary insight. For eleven dollars she was able to register for a five-hour, four-star Udemy course on the ins and out of the subject which she completed in just over six days. The content wasn’t impressive by any measure, but it was succinctly packaged in a manner that helped her craft her way.

As the days passed by, the reality slowly sank in that she needed to take up iOS app development for herself. It wasn't only about cost management, no. Rather, it had become increasingly evident that she had to take ownership of her vision, and not relegate that responsibility to a dispassionate third party. She hadn’t actively coded in almost eighteen years, and the thought of learning something that technical from scratch was a bit daunting. But that wasn’t a valid excuse. She was smart, good with design, had experience with C++ and VBA, and was ever-so-structured in her approach to new undertakings. In this instance the Udemy course was 55 hours long. She sighed. And logged on.

Next, she leaned on her friends, now professionals in their respective fields, to form the team to help create and administer the solution. One of them didn’t seem particularly interested and though she was a bit soured by that, she realized it was because the idea wasn’t tangible as yet. But this was no time to be discouraged. Her target customers would have similar apprehensions and here was a chance to dissipate these in the early stages of development. If she could convince him, a frugal, methodological project manager that this made sense to pursue, then she was on the right track. Another friend was more supportive, offering guidance regarding the aesthetics and branding of the concept. There were less than five people she knew that were as asinine as she when it came to such matters, and she was thankful to have her on board. Then there was the engineer who relished the technical side of problem solving, a brilliant mind eager to start tinkering. She had known him to be like that since he was a teen - which was perhaps twenty years back. And finally, there was the believer who immediately saw the underlying purpose and the potential for scaling. He pledged to assist as and when needed, any which way he could.

She had been at it for about ten weeks in all, a short time in the grand scheme of things and there would be no escaping the long hours, frustrations, disappointments and doubts inherent in the undertaking. But now, at this point in her life, time and experience had already refined her thresholds of patience and tolerance. And while she would no longer tolerate shit, she would be gentle with herself and her failings because she understood that her life would unfold in the ways it was destined to. There was certain joy to be found in the mundane, fueled by this recently-acquired sense of purpose. And so she pressed on. Because it made sense on so many levels to do so.

The Calling

Time has this way of going by whether or not you’re paying attention to it. And now she’s lying in bed, wide awake into the wee hours of the morning, her soul restless, her passion spent, just thinking about that. But she couldn't pinpoint how or when her life descended into this - an existence medicore by her own standards. And that would not do because it couldn't. There's more to life than this, more to her life than this. And she needed to figure it out.

She’s not ungrateful, no, not by a long shot because she’s been fortunate all the while and she knew that. A good family life, a comfy home, a well-respected job, an education, a few friends, a car, and the peace of mind and space to think. And conditions like that tend to nurture ideas, yearnings, and dreams, and that’s what happened. She learned a lot through her years actively spent introspecting, researching, observing, and yet she only just realized that she outgrew who she was. But she was still a long way off from becoming the person she needed to be.

She pondered carefully, for a while, because for her, her calling simply wasn't something distinct or clear. Sometimes it felt like she was listening to a dead silence and that could be tiring, boring, and even unnerving. Other times it felt like she was trying to listen to the exact song she needed to hear at that instant, but it was playing ever-so softly, the lyrics and melody being drowned out by the noise of her unsettled mind. And now this sense of urgency to change was becoming increasingly unbearable with her being conscious of the precious seconds slipping past.

Suddenly, she couldn't wait anymore - not for inspiration, not for herself to snap out of it. She gave herself three weeks to create something, anything meaningful and that would be the catalyst she needed to redirect her life. She threw herself into the project, going at it day and night, and into the wee hours of the morning. It didn't matter that no one else understood - this was not for them. It didn't matter that she hadn't done anything like this before - that was exactly the point. And it didn't matter that she had no experience - she was smart enough to figure it out for the most part. At the end of it all she had a draft - a rough draft, something pretty to look at and interesting to read, one that presented the idea clearly. But she wasn't proud of it. It had holes. It was incomplete and she knew that, but it mattered not. These three weeks were just the beginning of something big she decided, and she would deliberately embrace this new routine, for this would be her passion, her calling, at least for now. And it was up to her and her alone, to answer it.

Enough

People always say how you should be yourself…like…yourself is this definite thing…like a toaster…or something…like you can know what it is even. but every so often I’ll have like…a moment…when just being myself in my life…right where I am...is like…enough.
— Angela Chase (My So-Called Life)

Changes

“Can we speak for a few minutes?”

She immediately walked off towards the nearest conference room after getting the nod. She followed, not quite sure what this was about.

“I need your advice” she said, sitting down. I don’t have long here again and there’s some pressure to apply for another position within the company that I don’t care for.”

“Do you want to?”

“No, not really.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to work in that role. It’s just not something I’ve ever aspired to.” She was adamant in her response.

“That may mean that you’ll be home for a bit then...and you’re okay with that?”

“I think I am.”

“But would you regret not applying for it? Now? Five, ten, twenty years down the road looking back at this moment?”

“No.”

“Well, what do you wanna do, like, long-term?

“I want to serve God.”

Her mind was already made up and she just needed to hear someone else agree with the decision. It wasn’t hard to.

“You can’t do what’s right for the world if you’re not doing what’s right for you.” She nodded and that was the end of the talk.

She would replay that conversation several times afterward. There’s something admirable in someone knowing her life’s purpose and she never got how people could be so definite about their’s. This child was in her early twenties, and knew exactly what she wanted. By contrast, she was double that and still clueless for the most part. And she reflected on her own situation for the umpteenth time and decided that she knew what she didn’t want, and maybe she could start with that. She didn’t want to be stagnant, closed in, or dictated by the whims of lesser minds. Routines would have to add value. And inefficiencies - oh how she hated to expend time and effort on tasks that should be painless for even the junior staff. But she had tried several times before and failed to enact meaningful change. Maybe she needed to attempt a different change of sorts.

It took a few hours for the minor updates and soon after, all was ready. She paused for a bit, mulling it over one last time. “Do what’s right for you” - her mind was echoing her own words back at her. And finally she’s on the last page, the one that displays that single sentence asking for final confirmation. She paused, but only for a second - it should be harder to click the button she thought. Maybe that’s the sign she was waiting for, the first step from what was to towards all that could be. She confirmed. And it was about time that she did.

From Within

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
— Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Moving Day

It felt unreal, packing up all her things like this. She came across so many trinkets, cards, photographs, and little notes scribbled with text from her time back at the university. Some of those memories took her back to when her life was simpler but felt as difficult then as it did now. She had come a long way from who she was. And yet she hadn't.

There was lots of chatter from the other rooms. Her sister's friends were helping with the packing and the distraction made it easier to focus on the task at hand, to not get lost in her head, but, at the same time, she felt like she should have had the space to reflect. This was a significant event, after all.

And finally, they were done. Her room was empty, her home was empty, and the boxes were all shipped off. The echoes were there, once more, the only thing that filled the void. She remembered hearing them the first time she moved in - when she was only four years old and it was only fitting that they bid her goodbye, she supposed. Now the lights were off, the locks were on and things would no longer be like they were and that was okay. All things in this life are there to serve a purpose and her home had done that. And so, with a thankful heart she made her peace with it and bid her farewell. They drove off, into the night knowing that tomorrow would be the start of something new. It was time to look forward to the next chapter up ahead.

Reflections

it didn't occur to her to update her resume before now. it was a random request for guidance that prompted her to look at her own, and she found it to be ever-so-dated. she took such pride in that once upon a time, and now it was merely a by-the-way document to update on the rare occasion she remembered. and she reviewed it and it's all correct and all, a list of accomplishments, projects, and notable points. and that's it. her life was a simple routine incurring incremental improvements every few months.

just yesterday she shared her thoughts with a friend, that this life should be spent making a worthwhile contribution, and that experiences past and present should be leveraged to do that. but that was yesterday and today she thinks...the same...but different. maybe destiny isn't a static concept, but one that is redefined along the way, one that becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy. cause and effect it's called and suddenly you're the higher power that you once believed existed outside of yourself, with successes and failures randomly dictated by the ongoing chaos everywhere. deliberate action is necessary but few realize that same is shaped by the once-conscious-now-subconscious musings underlying one's very being.

so what now? decisions big and small, none insignificant. the time was yesterday, yestermonth, yesteryear and now it's now. with a heavy heart, eyes closed, sinking feelings, confused thoughts, and a weary soul, she’s barely holding it all together. but this time will pass, these things will change, and so should she. and so she did.

Perspectives

(Sudden downpour)

“Breathtaking, isn’t it? Come. Come come.”

(Sheltering the rain)

“Like sparks falling from a giant furnace. Some countries they hold parties when it starts to rain, but here we just scurry around and run for cover. The most important currency in the world and yet in our green and pleasant land where we take so much...for granted we see it only as a means of ruining expensive...hairdos and making taxi drivers rich.”

“You’re odd.”

“Said she.”

- conversation between Bella and Alfie (This Beautiful Fantastic)

Lost

"i'm really sorry about your daughter."

"did you know her?"

"no...but i know what it's like to lose people you love. i lost my ma when i was little and my pa...he did the best he could considering...and that's really all henry was doing...is helping me...and i'm gonna help him. see, i'm leaving tomorrow on my journey and i was thinking i would take penny with me. i think she might like that.

(introspective pause) "...yea...yea she would."

"look, we ain't lost our minds, m'am. just lost our way a little bit. ain't ya ever felt that way?"

 

- conversation between Millie and Julia (The Book of Love)

For All Time

"jumping is all that matters. if i didn't jump, i would drink and have sex all the time."

(awkward pause) "hey! congratulations on your medal."

"i win gold but i didn't do my best. see if i'd done my best, i could come last and be happier."

(proudly) "like me."

"you do not do good."

(pondering, disappointment) "no, i suppose not."

(matter-of-factly) "you've done better."

(sarcastic) "yea..."

(reassuring) "you think i'm being patronizing? no no no. you and i, you and i are like one o' clock and eleven o' clock you see we are closer to each other than to others. winning and losing, all that stuff is for the little people. men like us, we jump to free our souls. we are the only two jumpers with a chance to make history today. if we do less than our best with the whole world watching...it would kill us inside...for all time.

- conversation between Eddie and Matti (Eddie the Eagle)