Thursday, August 31, 2006


Over dinner at Google tonight, Vanessa and I caught up on the current state of our old friends from Caltech.

W opened up a bar in a rural town in China.
X works at a bookstore in Seattle.
Y is living in Los Angeles and relaxing (i.e. not working).
Z is living in South America and relaxing (i.e. not working).

It is surprising how many of our classmates turned their back on the fields they studied at Caltech. Imagine it: you work passionately throughout your teen years, culminating in four years of rigorous study at Caltech. You put in long hours to get a degree from one of the highest ranked science and engineering universities.

Then you turn your back on it, to pursue a life that takes no advantage of those talents.

As far as I can tell, all these people are very happy.

Three years ago, after Wesley left his software startup, I invited him to consider working for Google. He decided no, and instead moved to China and turned an old building into a bar.

When we exchanged email last year, he said something to the effect of, "Occasionally I have 1% regret over the financial impact of that decision. But I wouldn't trade my current feeling of freedom for any amount of money."


It reminds me of a conversation with Cliff a couple years ago, about the dynamics in relationships.

I said, "The person who cares less has more power."

Cliff said, "No, the person who needs less has more power."


Anonymous said...

I love this post. It rings very true.

Anonymous said...

This instant and eternity are struggling within us. And this is the cause of all of our contradictions, our obstinacy, our narrow-mindedness, our faith and our grief.

- Arvo Pärt

Anonymous said...

finally, niniane is in a old Chinese mood :D

Anonymous said...

Good post,so where is Wesley's Bar? Maybe I have the chance to that rural town. :) seriously.

bene said...

I disagree with Cliff - I can need more and care less when my partner cares more than I do, and she's apt to fulfill my needs while requiring less of me.

But then, it may be that I see a partner as a "want" and not as a "need", and that therefore everything is based on whether I care or not.

adam said...

Related to what Bene was saying, I don't think the people pursuing these alternate career paths have "lesser" needs, rather just different ones.

I think it's difficult to place value on a given career choice without evaluating what the person truly wants out of life.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous @2:14am: great quote. I was just listening to Passio last night.