Life

January 2, 2014

Reflections

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On George’s last night he asked, what is the meaning of life? Everyone thinks about this question at some point in their life, but no one ever has a good answer.

On my last trip, I had a brief experience with what seemed like amnesia. You never quite understand what it means to forget until you experience it, and it’s scary. Amnesia to the point where I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to be sitting on the floor or sitting on a chair, if I was supposed to be awake or asleep at 6pm, if I was supposed to talk to people or listen to them, or even what I was supposed to say to them. I forgot who I was, what I was doing, and what was important to me.

Without a memory, your mind thinks differently in judging what is important. It’s no longer influenced by what society has taught us. I wish I had a chance to share with George, what I discovered was really important in life.

The first thing I thought of was money. Money’s important right? It’s always something I’ve tried to get more of in my life. But somehow, it didn’t feel like it was that important, it didn’t feel like it would help me remember who I am. After a certain point, money buys you nothing you want, and certainly nothing you need. George was never one to worry about money, and he loved treating his friends and was so thoughtful with the gifts he gave to others. They say one of the ways you can tell someone is happy is that they are generous, that they derive pleasure not from buying things for themselves, but from buying things for others, and this was George through and through.

What about work? I spend so much time at work, it must be important to me. I remembered the names of my co-founders, and that was it. I couldn’t remember what they did, what they looked like, or even how I knew them. All I could remember from work was the routine … a routine that took up most of my time. But George was different. He was one of the few founders I knew, that was able to strike a balance between work and life. When you start a company, you become obsessed that every moment you’re not working, you’re failing. In reality, work is simply an experience that you should enjoy: the people that you are working with and the things that you are doing. And of course, it’s important to spend time away from work; it gives you a new perspective and new appreciation for what real problems are. As a founder, George made sure he made time for friends, both new and old, to learn from everyone.

I thought about friends. Friends are important, this I was certain; but I couldn’t remember how close I was with the friends in the room with me … I wasn’t even sure of their names. I wanted to ask the simple question of who am I, but I didn’t want to worry them, and I wasn’t sure how they would react. Friends, the people you always surround yourself with, should be the people who you can always be open with, those you can tell anything to, and never have to hide anything from. George was one of the few people that even after a year, I felt I could tell anything to. He was open and honest with everyone, and that made you want to be open and honest with him. He treated everyone like his best friend, even after just meeting them. It’s not the time you spend with someone that makes them close with you; it’s the amount you can share that brings you closer to them.

I thought about love; but I don’t have a love in my life. And really, had I even found love before, what does it mean when you love someone? Love isn’t simply about compatibility, if you’re attracted to someone or if you enjoy spending time talking with them. It’s deeper, it’s an indescribable connection. It’s something where you can simply run your fingers along her arm and feel something, where you hold her hand and it just fits. George and Li had this special connection where they could hold each other and it felt safe, it felt right, it was simply perfect. When you feel that, you’re willing to do anything for each other. I never understood the concept of wanting to make sacrifices for love until seeing them together.

George asked what is the meaning of life. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer this question, but I think understanding what’s important in life gives us the first step. I think George had already figured out what’s important in life without knowing it, and was teaching the rest of us by simply showing it.

With money, stop worrying about the nickels and dimes. Spend it on your friends and family and create new experiences with it. That’s what it’s meant for.

With work, do what you love and love what you do, but don’t let it consume your life. Work is a journey that’s meant to be enjoyed; don’t focus simply on getting to the end and forgetting what it took to get there.

With friends, be open and honest. Treat everyone like they’re your best friend, because you never know who your close friends will be.

With love, make sacrifices. You know you’ve found love when you’re willing to sacrifice what you thought was important. She should be someone that you want to change your life for, not because she asks, but because you’ll do anything to spend more time with her, because time is precious.

 

In honor of George.

July 27, 1989 – January 2, 2014.

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