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."