Sunday, August 30, 2009

Aim for the Stars

In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

-HDT

One year is up. That’s right. It has been one year since I set out on my journey to study, work and travel in Asia. One year ago, it didn’t seem overly ambitious—I had traveled, studied, and worked before—what could go wrong? Ha!

Anyone remember the letter I wrote and sent to friends and family before leaving for Asia (if not you can read it on my blog: kevinjamesburns.blogspot.com. It is only post in August of 2008)? The letter describes my big plans for life in Asia over the next year. I clearly stated my plans to study, get an internship, and experience the rich cultures of the Asian Pacific. I wrote and sent the letter to friends and family because I was convinced (and still am) that sharing our adventures in life, exalting and humbling alike, is the best way for us to grow, propelling all of us to explore ourselves and the world around us. How else are we to start off on our own journeys unless that spark is lit for us?

However, it also did something else, something I know others, as well as myself, are scared of. Writing the letter took loosely defined goals, ones that I could mold and change as the world changed, as I changed, and set them in stone. I have always been a big fan of goals, but prior to this letter I had never put myself out on such a limb, so exposed to failure. Up until a couple days ago I thought this was all bad. But after a little contemplation, I realized the good that came out of it. I had given myself a target, something to aim for. Not only did this push me to go further than I would have otherwise, but it also gave me a point of reference, which has allowed me to compare what actually happened with what I had planned.

If I strictly compare my plan to what actually happened, I am a big, giant failure. After studying at HKBU I returned home instead of taking an internship. I also was never able to travel around Asia, and probably won’t be able to because of my current finances. But if I take into account all the crazy things that happened and everything I couldn't have planned for, I think I did pretty well.

After returning home to San Diego after four months of studying in Hong Kong at HKBU, I spent the a couple months fighting with Kaiser Doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with my chest. At the same time, my internship, which I was supposed to start again in February, was postponed, and then postponed again, because of work visa issues. I finally made it back to Hong Kong at the end of May and started my internship shortly after.

Everything has gone very well at my internship. In fact, so well that they offered me a contract position until the end of the year, which I accepted. If everything goes well, it could turn into a full time position. Regardless, I will gain much needed experience and have a chance to network a bit longer in Hong Kong.

Point is, though almost nothing went according to plan, I am still here. I am still throwing mud at the doorstep of China, trying to make something stick. Did I need to write that letter? Did I need to make those big plans? There is really no way of telling. But I do know this: we can’t hit what we don’t aim at. After writing that letter, I took aim at Asia and never looked back. Setback after setback and still I persisted.

So on the 1-year anniversary of my big trip, I wanted to thank all the people who I sent my letter to, all the people who have been following me on my Blog, my family and my friends. In more ways than one, you guys are the contributors and benefactors of my adventures. I look forward to sharing more adventures with you, and hearing more of your adventures, as time goes on. Thanks you for being a part of this epic time in my life.

1 comment:

  1. Kevin,
    I think it's safe to say that you have no idea yet how what you have experienced and are experiencing will affect your life in 5, 10, 15 and more years from now, but we all know that it will have a positive effect in your life and the lives of others (including future family if that's in the cards). Some want to do the kind of thing you have done but won't. Their lives will take a different path--not better or worse, but different. I cannot imagine my life, though, without my foreign experiences. What would I have been doing during those same times? I can't imagine I would have been doing anything that would have brought more value to my life. It has challenged me, made me question my life and my culture, and enriched my understanding of myself, my culture and others'. I am thrilled that you are having experiences that have done and will continue to do the same for you. And you are absolutely right--part of your obligation to others is to share what you have learned. There must be an equilibrium between the "taking" and the "giving" in life.
    Gary

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