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The Commitment to Fulfillment

“But your fulfillment in life will not come from how well you explore your freedom and keep your options open… Your fulfillment in life will come from how well you end your freedom.”

– David Brooks, NYT

It has been quite the roller coaster ride, these last 15 months. An obscene amount of travel, reunions with friends old and new, and all the soul searching one could wish for (and yet not want at the same time). I’ve journeyed through valleys and stared up at a sky blanketed with a self-made fog of hopelessness. Elation has rushed through me as I realize near strangers are willing to take a chance on me out of the goodness of their hearts and the immediate connection we forged. And still – as of this publication – I am unemployed.

One could say I gave up the world of fame and recognition to be in this place of uncertainty. ‘You stepped down from being an anchor in air-conditioning… to being a reporter in the elements?!’ ‘You walked away from a glamorous career where free haircuts and holidays at work are the norm?!’

It’s not the one-way ticket most people envision booking.

 

Yet David Brooks’ recent commencement address at Dartmouth reminded me of words my own father shared with me in one of his epic birthday card messages.

Freedom is not always being free from something, but being free to do something. And as Brooks so wisely detailed, true fulfillment comes from understanding that limitations such as commitment can provide you with what you really want.

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And so:

I am committed to seeking my next path in the Bay Area.

I am committed to being invested in my community (though which specific one is still to be determined).

I am committed to loving my family, friends, and those who I shouldn’t have any reason to love.

I am committed to giving God glory because “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” [1 Corinthians 15:10]

 

Once again, the estimable David Brooks.

“You have to give to receive. You have to surrender something outside yourself to gain something within yourself. You have to conquer your desire to get what you crave.”

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My chains are (not) gone. I’ve been set free.

The Heels Have Clicked

Back in another airport. Are you sick of reading those words yet?

As I wait to board a plane to the coast where I spent the last dozen years, it is no triumphant return.

For better or for worse, I have made a vow to California. This visit East is to say farewell – at least, for now. There is reluctance, trust me. I am fearful of what it means to make a decision to stay in a place with no definitive reason to do so. There is no job offer enticing me to stay in the Golden State. I still find myself impatient with some of the slower-paced San Franciscans. When fall hits, I am going to be longing for the rock-your-world foliage of the Adirondacks and wishing deeply for the plentiful apple cider of upstate New York.

Yet thanks to some pretty fabulous weather, a grandmother who brings me bananas after I fall asleep (ask me about it) and a church community that has given me roots and growth at the same time, I can’t deny the longing to stay here. Blame it on the drudgery of wanderlust, or the allure of start-ups and playground-like offices. It’s not quite ‘home’ yet, but the potential. Oh, the potential.

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Sonoma

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San Francisco

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

 

And if I were holding Toto and wearing shiny ruby slippers, I have a feeling I would open my eyes after three heel clicks and find myself facing the Pacific.

#nolongerinnaefarawayplace

Two Decades

I’m frantically writing a blog post as I reflect on the last few days of wedding preparation.

 

Don’t be alarmed, there’s no ring on my finger.

 

It’s that of a friend whom I have known for more than 20 years. A friend who has been by my side through thick and thin (she being the thin and I was the former). A friend at whom I shook my head for years because there were times where she was just beyond me. And then a friend who received the same head-shaking in recent years because of my delight at who she’s become.

~1995

[around 1994]

Now, after two decades, I get to see her walk down the aisle and marry a man who cherishes her deeply. We’ve seen our share of hurt, of mistreatment, betrayal and even abuse. Now her story will be marked by a new beginning – where another friend will be by her side for hopefully more than twenty and beyond years.

[before 2002]

[before 2002]

 

 

Don’t worry, Yong Hee. Janet and I will always be around.

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#whatinnaeworld?! Bay Area Edition

I thought NYC was exclusive.

 

However, I was awakened to the rarity of certain dim sum options in the Bay Area thanks to two cousins who went to a restaurant and then returned the next day because this dish wasn’t available the first time.

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You’re looking at (what’s left of) 1 of 6 crispy pork belly portions that are served each day at Hong Kong Flower Lounge in Millbrae, Calif.

ONE of SIX.

We made sure to come before noon AND tell the primary server we were here to get this particular plate. It was hand-delivered (versus cart-delivered) as a result.

Was it worth two days of dim sum in a row? Go try it.*

Happy eating!

 

 

*Okay, fine, it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Go.

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#whatinnaeworld?! San Francisco Edition

Strange to think that it’s been more than a month since I was in the Bay Area, but the good news is… I’m returning! I’ll be in the Bay Area as I revisit friends and family and prepare for the wedding of one of my oldest friends.

 

However. This photo needs to be shared. I was folding a friend’s laundry when I found THIS:

This is in one's laundry in the middle of July.

Mind you, this was taken in the middle of July. JULY.

 

Gotta love NorCal weather and its sharp temperature changes. At least Karl the Fog has a sense of humor.