Remain Present

Recently, I had to remind myself to not jump too far ahead. I need to remember to take things slowly, step by step or bird by bird as Anne Lamott says. A reminder to myself: everything is a process. Though, it is often hard to know where you are in the process.

This past quarter, I sought clarity on how exactly I will better society. I was stuck. I want to create systemic change that impacts millions. At the same time, I love the thrill that comes from just helping on a smaller scale. My mind has built a shrine to that day when I was so happy for myself – that day when the village community received me with eyes of immense gratitude and shimmering hope. It was in that selfless sacrifice and tireless commitment to give, that for the first time, I could feel pride well up within me. The moments after the project ended, I smiled knowing that with my two hands and a brain the size of a small melon, I had built a capacity and a real propensity to give and love others.

Perhaps that’s what the mystics meant by Love – that we discover ourselves in the act of loving.

Yet, I know I must be present in order to continue on this journey I have ahead. When meeting people for the first time, people are curious to what you can do or are doing now. I must not glorify the past in such self-definitive ways. The past and all that I have experienced are the things I carry. They have shaped my very essence and they will continue to for the many years to come.

Reminder: Remain present.

This year is about building up tangible design skills. I want to have the design skills to create products, services, and experiences for those not traditionally designed with.

My world is as small as the world dealt to me – I am influenced by those I meet and in the periphery. I am endlessly inspired by nurse practitioner and nursing professor at University of Washington, Josephine Ensign. She is able to impact homeless adolescents, families, and adults while coordinating higher systems level change as a professor. I find that deeply inspiring. My soul is stirred to do something of that nobility, a life of commitment towards others. My dream job is to design for communities at the ground level and create systems level change so that we can move towards a world and society that works for us. I never want to stop talking to the people I serve and I want to shift the dialogue at a larger scale so that the needle is moved when it comes to social and environmental issues. Dreaming is an incessant hobby of mine.

The design skills I am focusing on this year will help me become more competent at creating ventures of impact. I will focus on sketching in perspective to develop a visual language for communication, rapid sketching to convey ideas, rapid prototyping to realize ideas, developing CAD chops in SolidWorks to elevate my professionalism, and rendering in KeyShot to create polished demos. These skills will take time and lots of practice. I am incredibly lucky to be enrolled in design school, so that I can focus on developing this new skillset – a design eye and flow.

I do want to revisit designing with affordability as a dream of mine since many years ago. I majored in materials science engineering as an undergraduate because I wanted to make things as cheap as possible. I am curious to explore the unique overlaps of materials and design. Today, I remembered just how much I love atoms and how the phenomena of our natural world perpetually intrigues me. Wonder is one of my favorite past times.

The reminder is to remain present, because I need to remind myself that I only graduated less than two years ago. Then, I was studying crystal structures and incredibly complex emergent phenomena. I don’t have a world of design experience. My prior ten months in India focused on the soft skills of the design process – facilitating teams, navigating ambiguity, creating structure. I need to remind myself to be patient, that I’m just starting out on this design journey. The beginnings always require the most disciplined investments of time and hard work.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say the effects of lesser social interaction is affecting my outlook and motivation. Ever since COVID started, I have felt less motivation to take up activities towards the future. I often give up at the slightest friction. At the end of this year, I want to be able to say I’m proud of myself for growing and becoming more competent. I won’t let this be a wasted year.

I foresee this upcoming quarter to be largely of solitude. I will be writing more often here so that I can keep myself accountable and be present to my inner currents.

My last reminder to myself is that despite the tragedies, hatred, and crises, the world is emergent, the world is beautiful, life is beautiful.