Introduction -or- Hedge Funds, the Pacific Ocean, and Forgetting My Name

in #life7 years ago (edited)

A lot can be said of the great content already available on Steemit, today I'm thrilled to join the community to both offer my insights and engage with those from other thoughtful minds.

You could say my path to Steemit is a bit unusual, though perhaps that's not the case. I'm interested to hear yours. As for me, I came to Steemit as a part of a multi-year, perhaps lifelong, journey of reflection...

On Hedge Funds

A little about myself and 'what I do.' I am a full stack developer, scrum master, sci-fi author, and AI enthusiast. I haven't yet found how to put that succinctly yet other than to say I am a human of many interests centered around how technology influences our perceptions and existence.

Whereas the traditional economy forces people to rigidly define themselves by a single means they use to sustain themselves and 'earn a living,' the future economy, whether by means of AI enabled basic income, or by some other removal of barriers between idea and implementation, will see a rise in multitalented creatives who blend industries and roles.

My interests today (and future economy expertise) include finance, web based languages, Agile, Scrum, mindfulness, creative writing, data analytics, deep learning, and AI.

I wasn't always this way though. In my earlier days after college I was much more exclusively focused on my career, and began working on the algorithmic trading desk for the world's largest hedge fund. I soon came to realize however that while I was monetarily satisfied, this satisfaction had come at the expense of other aspects of my life, meaning not only was I unhappy, I was the engineer of my own unhappiness.

I remember countless colleagues telling me how they "wished they could do what I was doing." I remember my confusion. They could already do exactly what I was doing. They could cross the same bridge is they so desired. There was nothing unique about my situation. Like them I had worked hard for years to earn this moment, but unlike them, only I was actually willing to move forward.

My colleagues were equally unhappy, but had become paralyzed by their fear, weighed down by everything they were clinging to in an attempt to hide the fact that their lives were fundamentally out of balance.

On the Pacific Ocean

After leaving finance I decided to change two big things: where I lived and what I did for a living.

  1. I decided to pursue my interest in anything and everything science fiction- from writing it to actually creating and working on technologies like AI.
  2. I decided to change where I lived, and spend the foreseeable future living abroad in Asia, traveling from country to country for multiple years. Oh, and while making this journey, I decided to get a full taste of the world and the trip, I would travel by any means but flying.

I spent the next month driving across the entire United States from my hometown of New York City to San Francisco. There, I took the BART (local train system) to Oakland, got off the train when I saw the cranes by the docks, walked in their direction, and boarded a cargo ship board for Hong Kong.

A month at sea can do funny things to your perspective. I spent most of the month alternating between cursing myself and rejoicing that for the first time in a long time- perhaps ever- I was living on my own terms. I spent most of my days reading and writing a science fiction novel I am still working on, in fact I was spending so much time in my own head and in the creative process my inner monologue began to narrate every action I performed as I took it.

"He stepped into the shower and turned the water to high..."

A 400 meter long by 40 meter wide metal tube became my world, the only thing separating me from sure death. We like to think we own this planet, but if you find yourself adrift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is nothing anyone can do to save you. For all intents and purposes, you might as well be stranded on Mars.

If the previous few years in finance taught me the value of pursuing what you love, my month on the Pacific Ocean taught me the terror of when your dreams begin to become reality, the introspective dread that achieving ones dreams alone can suddenly render those very dreams meaningless.

Chasing those dreams to the point of isolating myself on a ship for a month- writing, coding, traveling, living- I remembered that just as work alone is not enough, neither are dreams, not for their own purposes.

On Forgetting My Own Name

I remember heading into the turn on the bike, the car coming around the turn far too wide, hurtling downhill. I remember dragging myself to the side of the road after the accident. I remember the driver coming over to look at how bad the damage was, seeing it was pretty serious, and getting back into his vehicle and leaving. I remember little else until the next van found me, perhaps a few hours later.

At the time, I couldn't even remember my first name.

Flash forward an airlift (travel insurance is worth it), a few emergency blood transfusions, 6 surgeries, and one forever mangled leg, and the accident is behind me- for the most part.

Those two years were yet another challenge, a challenge of a kind I had never faced before. Staying motivated while in chronic pain is not easy, and certainly not something to marginalize. I (eventually) recovered. Though many never do. I learned two things from the experience.

First, chronic pain or disabilities change your worldview and your personality. I lived with them nearly two years, long enough to get a glimpse of the differences, though of course have no misconceptions that two years is the same as a lifetime. Still, I took away the insight that if you remember that (unseen) pains can change a person, and give them the benefit of the doubt, often they can positively surprise you.

Second, while perhaps just an internal justification or survival mechanism, I realized this setback was in a way an unexpected opportunity to spend more time with friends and family before moving abroad.

In those 18+ months in a wheelchair and on crutches, I went to concerts, sporting events, movies, board gaming meetups and more, always feeling included even when it wasn't convenient or it meant the whole group had to forgo options we might have taken otherwise. And that's all I could have focused on, just getting better- physically and mentally. But because of this support, I was also able to finish writing two novels, publish multiple short stories, release an app to the iOS app store, and build the groundwork to move to Hong Kong, find full time employment, and found my own AI startup.

I don't say any of this to imply only I could have done it, but rather because I know that if I can do it, so can many, many others. I could only achieve this because I surrounded myself with the right environment to promote personal reflection and growth, fostered meaningful relationships with people I care about, was inspired and empowered by my surroundings to work on problems that I felt passionate about.

Your name doesn't matter. Your name will be forgotten. Even you will forget it.

But the environment you surround yourself will remember. What you do to make it grow faster and what it does for you to help you grow faster are what matter.

Surgery vs Medicine

Blogs everywhere, including Steemit, are full of specialized offerings.

Work productivity tips.

Life hacks.

Relationship and social life advice.

The truth is we subdivided ourselves to distract ourselves from fundamental imbalances. Like surgeons, we cut and dice because this is the only way we know how to treat our feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. But what if we can't find lasting fulfillment from any one area alone? What if trying to be happy in one sphere of our experience by sacrificing another just makes us more miserable?

Work success alone will paralyze you and weigh you down.

Life dreams alone will leave you isolated.

Social life alone will leave you aimless.

We subdivide ourselves to distract from our fundamental imbalances. Yet for all we try, it remains impossible to find lasting fulfillment in one area by sacrificing another.

So while I write about life insights and reflections, and these pertain to productivity, success, friendships, and more, what I really write about is something larger.

I write about the indivisible human experience. 

If you enjoyed reading, please remember to vote, comment, follow, and share!


Please say hi in the comments! What was your path to Steemit? 


Welcome to Steemit! You are going to love it here :)
I wish you the best! Hope you gonna have fun with our community and see you soon.


All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.

- Mahatma Gandhi

Very true. Truth and some formulation of the golden rule

Amazing write-up! I can relate to some of the experience. To answer your question, I came to Steemit at a time when I wanted to break out of my 9-5 and begin trying to be a free person pursuing my interests, whatever they may be, full-time and unrestricted. At that time I wanted to write and my local gov banned Medium, so I ended up here. Found a "family" too.

Welcome to Steemit!

Awesome story Kevin, thanks for vote and follow. I look forward to talking more, it sounds like we have similar motivations but no doubt very different paths.

Great introduction! Glad to have you here! :)

Thanks jr, appreciate the read (and follow haha)

Hello, welcome to the Steemit community, it's really great to have you here with us, i hope you have a great time here and achieve great success.
I would be looking forward to reading your post. Interesting introduction you got there and great pictures.
I'm @Janrotas, would be great If you could check out my page and follow back. I have some interesting write ups I'm sure you would or can relate to. Welcome again talk more later.

How are you? Mattroconnor, Let me welcome you to Steemit. Hope you gonna have fun with our community. Feel free to follow me @rightuppercorner Have a great time @rightuppercorner

Nice to meet you, @mattroconnor! Welcome to the Steemit Community, wish you good luck and a good start, ive send you a small tip and followed you, hope you have an amazing day! :)


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Welcome to Steemit! You have certainly had an amazing journey getting here! Thanks for sharing, especially about how your time of physical hardship after the accident changed your perspective on life and people. It's a great lesson to share. All the best to you in your continued journey. Following for more :)

Over 400,000 members on Steemit now, I hope they all see your great posts also.

This was a great introduction! I am looking forward to reading your posts! :)

Awesome! This seems like a brand new account so I'm gonna support you. Have one upvote on the house and keep on steeming!
When having a new account it can be hard to recieve big upvotes so my advice would be to give @MinnowPowerUp a go as you can earn up to 30% more steem power than just powering up! It's a subscription based daily upvote bot that draws its power from a delegation pool. I made this post to explain the system in more depth and show how I earn over $1 a day in upvotes.