1995 was one of the best years of my life: I got engaged, I published my first scientific paper, and I published my first short story. All that gave me a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment, but that happiness was short lived: that engagement ultimately disintegrated, my PhD dragged on, and I didn’t publish another short story for years.
Now, there were great sparks in there – successive internships at CMU in Pittsburgh in 1996, SRI in the Bay Area in 1997 and Yamaha in Japan in 1998 – but I didn’t really start feeling great until 1999, when my thesis advisor started an internet startup with me and one of his graduate students – Enkia, my first taste of the inside of a healthy startup.
But the dotcom crash happened and everything got acrimonious (as things do when external factors turn sour, since people are no longer glossing over problems that didn’t bother them before) and my father grew gravely ill and we all agreed it was better to part ways, so that happy time evaporated too. I don’t even really have good pictures of this time, not digital ones.
The pattern repeats – ups and downs, good times and bad, a few really so-so jobs with really nice people, meeting my wonderful fiancee and having a terrible-post wedding experience with my mother, and so on, and so on. It’s really easy to focus on the bad, sometimes, to think of all the things that have gone wrong.
This year was no different: loss of the family matriarch, extreme disruption at work (I lost 2 SVPs, 2 directors, 2 bosses and 2 teams in the last year to other-than-normal churn) and the delay of my latest novel, the CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE. But at the same time, I had a great novel published – LIQUID FIRE – found a wonderful new team, and had a great time with friends and family.
You know what? Crap happens. But wonderful things happen to. And the way that we choose to take things affects what we get out of them. If you focus on all the bad stuff, you may end up feeling like your life is in the shitter. But if you take the time out to appreciate the good things as they happen, to share them with friends and family, and to remember them …
… you might find everything really did turn out all right.