This fall I was lucky to be one of the 30 residents in the inaugural year of Palomar5. It was by far the most intense experience of my life, triggering a lot of personal and project growth. A lot has changed since, but the dots still make sense looking backward. The last few years I’ve continually tried to tackle the biggest problem I thought I could, but two or three times I stopped, saying to myself, “this isn’t where I want to be and I don’t like where this is headed”. So I’d regroup, look at my new opportunities and resources and attempt to tackle something a little bit bigger. It was a bit scary at times not having many external demarkations of progress, but I trusted my instincts I was headed in the right direction.
I was so focused on making sure I continued to push my project forward that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to Palomar5. I worried leaving the Bay Area for 6 weeks would cause me to lose all my momentum. I asked friends for advice and reflected. I knew it was a big decision. Fortunately I made the right one. I wrote two comprehensive blog posts about the camp here and here.
The weekend before the final summit of the camp we went to a incredible spa called the Liquidrom. I was floating in a large salted pool heated to body temperature. I rested my feet on a noodle and put my head back into the water, listening to the music drifing out of the underwater speakers. I sank into deep reflection, feeling the present warmth and everything that had happened the last few months. Fifteen minutes later, head still submerged, body still relaxed, I had a stroke of insight: for the first time in my life I’m exactly where I want to be. I’m not at a check point, I can’t stop and take vacation, I need to keep doing what I’m doing, but I’m finally at the place I want to be. For the last two years I’d been pushing myself to carve out a new path, continually fighting resistance, getting knocked down and getting back up with more resolve. My life was now on a trajectory I was completely satisfied with: personally, professionally, communally….It was appreciation not complacency. There’s a lot I still I wished I had my in life but I knew it was because I made a choice to place more importance on some things than others. And the things I didn’t have yet I knew I just needed to attack with the same tenacity I used to get here. Or I just needed to let time run its course. After I left the liquidrom hours later I could still feel a faint glow emanating from my body. In the last month or two when I’ve felt out of balance I just remind myself of that moment and how far I’ve come.
Three weeks later another one of my biggest goals was achieved. I was admitted to Stanford. But if you know me, you know I have radical views on education and getting into Stanford has not changed that. More later on my quest for an unconventional educational path.
Other gap year highlights include my first Burning Man, which will surely not be the last and a 5 day trip in the magical and fantastical city Prague, before returning back to America.
Aside from working on my primary projects, things upcoming that I’m excited about are: Attending the EG conference in Monterey, (founded by Richard Saul Wurman who founded TED —which I also have dreamt about attending one day), taking part in Jerry Michalski’s 4 day retreat with many fascinating people who have been involved in Silicon Valley since the early days, spending a few weeks in New York and Boston to visit friends, attend the Starting Bloc Institute, visit my sister at college with an intermediary trip to Austin for my first South by South West, and begin integrating with the Stanford community.
And that’s only the next 3 months I know about.
I tell people now, I’m not on a year off, I’m on a year on.
I’ve completely overhauled my about page on my site to reflect the changes of the past few months and I will be releasing a number of reflective posts revealing my path and some of my theories that have guided.