Capturing Life’s Moments


Several days ago I came across this commercial by HTC. It featured a photography student trying to capture someone freefalling during skydiving using the new HTC 1. As an owner of an HTC phone myself, I loved this ad. Earlier this week, I then stumbled upon this article by HBR on capturing life’s moments. The article argues we’re obsessed with capturing, rather than savoring, moments. Social media has encouraged this behavior even more.

Social media has certainly influenced my desire to capture more of life’s moments. I’ve always had a desire to travel to new places, experience new cultures, and interact with local people. I think this urge stems in large part from growing up in one of the world’s most isolated places: Hawaii. I love the fact that I was born and raised in what many call a land of paradise, but my aptitude for geography at a very young age made me yearn to leave and visit the places that I’d read about for so long.

Over the past decade, I’ve visited many places that I would’ve never dreamt of experiencing as a kid. In the eighth grade, I placed in a competition that enabled me to go to Washington DC. For most people from Hawaii, traveling to the East Coast is often a once in a lifetime experience. At the time, it was certainly the case for me. (I never thought that a decade later, I’d be living in this city.) I don’t remember taking many pictures during the trip, but I vividly recall the experiences I had at the time:

  • Riding the metro, my first subway experience, ever.
  • Seeing so much green everywhere while flying into BWI. I’d never seen so many trees in my life!
  • Touring around The Mall. It was definitely an eye-opening experience to visit monuments that I had only read about or seen on TV.

I had a similar mindset when I won a scholarship to spend a summer in Japan. I remember:

  • Visiting the Eternal Flame Memorial at the Nagasaki Peace Park
  • Bathing at an onsen (hot springs) in Hakone
  • Jogging along the Yokohama waterfront around Yamashita Park.

The list of memories goes on.  The point is though, at the time, I never really bothered capturing these moments on film. I just wanted to soak it all in.

As I reflect on my more recent experiences, I can’t help but to think that while I tried my best to savor every new experience, I also had a strong urge to capture every moment: the aspects of daily life, the surrounding landscape, the people, the nightlife, etc. I wasn’t the only one though. Whether abroad or in the States, wherever I went, it seemed like everywhere, everyone was taking a picture of everything; e.g., what they saw, what they ate, what they did, etc. My actions during the new year countdown at Taipei 101 most demonstrably captures the shift in my attitude towards capturing versus experiencing life’s moments.

When the countdown began, I remember seeing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of arms being raised, cameras grasped, in order to capture the fireworks show. The show must’ve lasted for only five minutes. Even though the event took place only five months ago, experiencing the awesomeness of the whole event isn’t the first thing that I most vividly recall. What comes to mind is what I just described – the masses intent on capturing the moment, hoping to get a great shot.

In retrospect, I’m glad I captured the event. It’s quite likely I’ll never experience it ever again. Even with my earlier memories of DC and Japan, I wish I had photos available that accompanied my memory of those events. It’d be nice to have a collection of photos to revisit those experiences. I’ve realized though that there’s a tipping point that exists in capturing life’s moments. Capture too few and your left with nothing but the memory of the moment. Capture too many and the memory may be tainted by the desire to capture, not savor, the moment.

I believe that life’s moments should be savored, not captured. Learning how to balance the two, especially in this world of always-on social media, is an ongoing challenge that I’m working to find. Everything in moderation, including capturing moments, I suppose.

The Concept of Home


“Where are you from?”

I’ve gotten asked this question countless times. Even though I was born and grew up in Hawaii, I have a hard time answering this question. Over the past decade, I’ve lived in:

–       4 years in Philadelphia
–       1.5 years in Washington DC
–       Countless weeks in Los Angeles
–       3 months each in Tokyo, Boston, Shanghai, and Taipei

Initially, I considered where I was raised to be my hometown. Under that definition, it’d be Hawaii. But over the past decade, I’ve come to realize that home means so much more than where you were born.

For me, living away from Hawaii has changed what I consider to be home:

–       Extremely familiar with the area
–       Have friends/family in the area that I am close with.
–       See myself living in the area (in the near-term or long-term).

Under these criteria, I now consider two places home: Washington DC and Los Angeles. Washington DC is a fantastic city. There’s so much to do, it’s where I need to be professionally, and I’ve got some great friends there. More importantly, my friends are still located in the Northeast. With Los Angeles, even though I’ve never officially lived there, I actually held a CA drivers license for a couple years during college. I’m incredibly familiar with the area. I’ve gone there more times since graduating high school than going to Hawaii, I have a lot of family there, and above all, the weather is fantastic–it’s a great place to call “home!”

2011 in Review


The past year was definitely one to remember.

Hope. For the past five years I’ve spent the holiday season back in Los Angeles. When I left for LA in December, I was disappointed that I wasn’t staying indefinitely. Even though I had been in Washington for already 6 months, I still had a tough time adjusting to life there. When I returned to Washington in January, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from living a better life – no fears, no regrets, no doubts, no haters.

Focused. Of the three aspects of my life that I set out to improve (spiritual, professional, and social), I recall particularly focusing on my life at work. Armed with what I had learnt the previous month, I was making strides for the first time, at least I felt, towards building up a positive name for myself at the firm. Additionally, I got involved with a pro-bono project relating to social entrepreneurship through my firm. My involvement with Ashoka fueled my curiosity to learn more about the field.

Determined. I remember messing up a lot on the job during this month. Regardless, I was determined to work through these mistakes and prove that I was indeed not only a competent, but also core asset to my team. My family came to visit the east coast as well during this month. Our weekend trip up to NYC, the first time in over a year that I had gone up to the city, was a much-welcomed mini-vacation.

Perseverance. Four months into the year and I was already loosing steam in achieving my goals for a happier life in Washington. I knew that patience was a virtue, but I found it harder to keep trying to improve my personal and professional lives without seeing any tangible outcomes. In an effort to remind me to stay focused on my goals, I created this blog, to hold myself accountable. I also took a class at the Alliance Francaise; however, I stopped because it was moving way too slowly. After studying Chinese, I realized that despite its reputation as one of the more difficult of the Romance languages, a class was unnecessary to learn French.

A turning point. I remember this month being very fun, from a social perspective. For the first time, in a long while, I was actually doing things outside of work on a regular basis. Meeting new people, going to new places, hanging out. I almost imagined that this was what life should’ve been like back in college, before I let my insecurities get the better of me. I also did my first volunteer shift for the Freer Sackler through their summer-drinks series entitled, “Asia After Dark.” I also attended my first (and only) “Team in Training” event to prepare for the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of the year.

Appreciation. I made a year living in Washington this month. Professional life was going well and social life was finally developing. For the first time in a long while, I really just couldn’t believe how far my circumstances had changed over the past year. This sensation and feeling of appreciation was undoubtedly the best birthday present I could’ve asked for.

Enjoyment. Professional life had not changed much. Outside of work I continued to fuel my renewed interests in international relations. I volunteered at the triennial Society of International Development’s World Congress, where I had the chance to meet some great people with similar interests, and learned the affect of China’s continued economic rise has had on reshaping the international development community. This month was also a month of firsts

Ambivalence. From a professional perspective, I felt like I was in a state of suspension. Despite being at the company for over a year, and already two months since the last big project ended, I wasn’t getting staffed on any formal, long-term project; primarily ad-hoc stuff. I wasn’t growing. However, outside of work, life continued to unfold for the better. After snagging a $550 roundtrip ticket from the East Coast to Hawaii, I finally went home (the original-home) for the first time in over two years, spending 10 days in Hawaii.

Contemplation. I continued my Hawaii vacation into September by doing a double-back flight from Hawaii ? Dallas ? Reagan National; Dulles ? Los Angeles, all in one day, for my trip to Los Angeles. I usually tend to go back at least 3-5 times a year, so my trip back to LA, the first of the year, felt refreshing. Back in DC, as I considered my future career goals, I vowed to once again improve the situation before considering alternatives.

Afraid. Even if I was going abroad to fulfill a goal of mine, I still found the notion of unemployment, particularly given the current economic climate, completely unfeasible and utterly senseless. Although I was prepared financially to make the jump, I was afraid of the unknown. Would I be able to get a job after my time in Asia? What would employers think about my decision? Would travel/study abroad live up to my expectations? Even after I was given the option to return to my employer in Singapore post-sabbatical, I still couldn’t believe I had made such a big decision.

Frenetic. Despite no longer working, November was an incredibly busy month. No time to think about my decision. It was time to execute. The two weeks leading up to Taiwan were crazy. I studied for, and took the GREs. Packed for Taiwan and shipped the rest back to LA. Worked on Generation Enterprise stuff, a non-profit that I began volunteering for remotely back in October. Said many, many goodbyes. Went hiking two weekends in a row around the DC area. Even after arriving in Taiwan, the scramble continued to find suitable housing.

Anew. I was worried that coming during the holiday season was going to be a little depressing, but this past month has been far from it. It did take some time getting used to being a student again, and I contemplated (and am still contemplating) on whether to sign on for another term beginning in March, but I am relishing in the fact that I am living abroad once again. Meeting new people, experiencing new things, going to new places, it’s been a fantastic experience!

One Foot On Sand – The Journey Begins!


Me, blogging? Again!? I know, I know, some of you may be thinking why blog, and why now?

Well, to express myself – obviously. In addition though, I’m blogging as a way to improve my writing, to discuss my thoughts and opinions, and also to get your feedback! Sounds like a typical blogger. Perhaps? But here’s why you should follow my blog…

For as long as I can remember, I often found myself sounding either too formal, too convoluted, or simply at a loss of words. I’m hoping that by reading this blog, you’ll be able to get a different perspective of who I really am, my interests and passions, and what I’m really thinking about.

So what do I plan on writing about? A number of things. But first, I should probably talk about what I won’t be writing about – namely, my day job. Although it’s great, this blog will be used as a sounding board of my thoughts and ideas outside of work.

So now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I hope to use this blog as a journal of sorts as I continue my journey in developing my mind, body, and soul as a twenty-something. Hope you stick around and find out! Thanks for reading!