Reset Yourself

A couple of years ago I began to develop a funny feeling about life, a sense that something is not quite right here. I had no clue what I was feeling at the time, but as time passed that feeling only grew stronger and stronger.

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Morhpeus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

Any matrix fan would remember this scene from that iconic movie. It’s the quintessential moment in which the true nature of reality is revealed to our hero Neo. I had the same moment myself, but I didn’t have the luxury of having it explained to me nice and neatly from someone else. I had to discover this the hard way through experience.

In my mid twenties I was living the package dream. I had a great paying job as a computer programmer at a new startup, which provided an income to live comfortably in the heart of downtown Toronto. Not to mention a disposable income that allowed me to fill my life up with as much useless and empty junk possible. However I remember coming home one day and sitting on the couch and looking at my flat screen T.V and just staring at the reflection of myself on that black screen. Then I started asking myself, “is this it, is this what I’m working towards?”. A nasty void within you that ceases to close up. A hole that seems to never get filled even as you feed it with more and more things that it demands you to consume. Like a tapeworm that lives on the soul itself.

This time in my life, I really only had one true friend that I could really relate to at the time. Mike was someone I knew from High School, we had been friends since the 9th grade and were pretty much each others confidant. We were the only ones in our surroundings that actually cared about world issues, politics, and society. I remember when I used to be a staunch right winger and he swung to the left. This created a lot of fierce, but friendly debates between us. And our usual battle ground was at our favorite Korean BBQ restaurant in Scarborough a neighbourhood in Toronto where we lived. One of the last times that we were there, I recall that there was a different sentiment within me. It was a deep apathy towards everything in life. And I realized I shed all my political views and developed a certain disconnection between it all. The remainder of the meal went by with me just staring off into space as Mike ranted on about how idiotic our politicians are.

I just didn’t care anymore..

I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t even know what I was really feeling at the time, let alone finding a solution. A surprising answer came to me soon after and it was very simple in itself. And that answer was to move out of town. This I thought would be the clean break that I needed to numb that feeling within me. But Where?

I couldn’t sleep one night, due to my frequent insomnia and I out of sheer boredom decided to just find a new place to move to. So I went on my computer and started searching and finally I narrowed down my list to four places. The U.K, Japan, Sweden, and Vancouver. I know what you're thinking, it’s a pretty random list there. But I’m a random kind of guy as you will find out on this site. As I was mulling my choices, my phone rang at that moment. This was about 2 A.M in the morning or something like that and I never get calls that late from friends. But then again the person calling me wasn’t a typical acquaintance. This was my old friend James, who was calling from Vancouver. He was calling me coincidently to get me to move out of Toronto and move to Vancouver and start a company with him. And he also put up a very good argument, “Get your fucking ass out here!”. And I was sold in that moment. So in about a month I quit my job and told friends and family to their shock that I was checking out and moving to Vancouver.

Arriving at planet Vancouver was eye opening, it was fresh and exciting. The only other place I’ve ever been to in my life was New York for three days, but this experience wasn’t just me being a tourist taking generic pictures of random things. This is was my new home and suddenly life had freshness to it. But as soon as I got there it didn’t take too long for life to try and kick me in the balls.

It began with me and my friend James going our separate ways when we had a falling out on the company that we wanted to start. After that I had to find a job, and finding a job in Vancouver isn’t as easy as acquiring one in Toronto. But Eventually after a couple of interviews I was able to land a job as a programmer at this educational company. I was grateful for the job, but it did come with a drastic pay cut. And in hindsight I only took it out of sheer desperation. This was a company that made websites for diploma mills in and around the lower mainland. It was a pretty brainless position and it was the quintessential office job. The nine to five suit and tie affair. I did this for about two weeks until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew I had to get out of there when I walked passed my Boss in the hallway and yelled out, “Hey, whats up man!?”...He was about in his 60’s and straightlaced, and it was pretty awkward. So I get out of there the next day via an MSN instant messenger to my supervisor. I know it wasn’t the most classy way of ending things, but I didn’t even want to have that thing linger on for another two weeks. And off I went.

So now what do I do?

It’s quite funny at this point that I failed to see a distinct pattern emerge in life; which is me finding a desk job as a programmer and learning to hate it after a short while, then quitting and finding another programming job to learn to hate. So what do I do next?

Find another programming job…

Soon after a while I landed a series of job interviews with E.A. Canada. I was wide eyed for the job, a chance to work for one of the biggest video game companies in the world was enchanting. And not to mention the prestige attached to it would surely boost my social standing. But the process dragged on way too long, they kept bringing me in for different positions and testing me here and there for different and seemingly unrelated positions. The final interview for me was a total disaster. It was the same boring tech and personal questions, but this one had a twist. At the last part of the interview, they brung in the VP of technology, a very stone faced Russian man. He was like some bond villain that 007 would be tortured by. He was so intimidating to me that I began to descend into nervous self destruction. I was forgetting simple tech questions that I definitely knew and struggled to keep my head above water with all the questioning from him. I left that facility pretty broken, and I said to myself I was not going to do that again.

So now I need to find another programming job..

So I go back on craigslist and start sending out my resume to anything I could find, after a week of sending out resumes, I just temporarily gave up. I pretty much drifted for a couple of weeks in a state of limbo and self defeat. Then one day I got a response from one of the ads that I replied to. It was a pair of individuals that wanted to meet with me at a coffee shop to discuss a project they were developing. So I meet them the next day and it was a pair of university students that were in charge of this project for the local rail transit system here in Vancouver called the SkyTrain. It was a project that allowed people with a little donation to upload their photos to a website which would eventually appear on the side of the train. However the problem they were having was that they hired a programmer previously and they gave him a month to the do the project. Well, he took on the task and realized how massive it was and he simply went AWOL. So now they only have two weeks to complete this project and they need someone with experience ASAP. So I interviewed well and got the job, but just to be safe, they also hired another programmer to help me with the task. And also to make sure that we didn’t disappear at any point they wanted us to work from their office on campus. Also this allowed them to keep track of our progress as we worked away. We eventually settled in to the office and started plugging away. We had to start from scratch when we got there because the last guy barely produced anything. But no short timeline is complete without a couple of hurdles. One major one was the other programmer I was working with. Let’s just say his communications skills were less than spectacular and his coding was even more lackluster. I by no means am I professing to be the world’s greatest programmer, but he was doing things in a way that just made life for me much more difficult. So I found myself redoing a lot of things he’s done or pointing out problems in his code. This project came down to the wire and we were working right until the morning of the launch day. Coincidentally, near the end of the project I got a call from a sub contractor wondering how I was able to contact him as he didn’t post anything about a job position anywhere. We soon found out that there was this recruiter that was trying to act on his behalf and recruiting programmers. He was none too happy about this and would call me back after he is done investigating.

After the SkyTrain project was complete I was in that state of limbo again, a very familiar place for me at this point. But it didn’t last long as I got a call from that sub contractor, but this time he was actually offering me a job interview. So I interviewed the following day and I get the job. What was different about this job was that I didn’t have to go to any office or work on some nine to five schedule.

The job was pretty convenient, it allowed me to stay at home and do my thing, without the annoyance of the rate race schedule and the petty office politics that come attached with it. The only major complaint was that fact that I would spend hours a day cooked up in my apartment typing code all day. It makes you long for human interaction, in a very bad way. So I would frequently work out of coffee shops just so that I can be in the vicinity of other bipedal primates. I would make a lot of friends and even a few dates from this routine. Things were fine for a while, but that feeling slowly creeped up again. That same old feeling of emptiness.

Near the end of the first year I was handed a huge project, the biggest at the time for me, and it was estimated to just take about two months. I met with the client and we discussed all the kinks and details of this project, and we went into it with our heads high and confident on what lays ahead. But little did I know what was waiting for me during this grand project. Over the next few weeks, it slowly started to sink in that we were in over our heads. We had a couple of variables outlined in our scope of work, but never realizing how many components were needed within those variables. And every time there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that light would burn out and reappear sometime down the line. The project was slated for about 3 months, but by the time the third month came around, the thing was only about a fourth complete. Panic set in for me. I’ve never been in this kind of situation before and it felt like the walls were closing in. It only felt like things were getting worse, I just really didn’t know what I was doing and it was showing. I felt at any moment my sub contractor would pull the plug on me and get someone else. There were a couple of heated phone conversations that would reinforce that feeling for me. Then my compensation for the project was held back, so after a certain period, I wasn’t making any money and I quickly started running out of it too. Bills began to be paid late, and it was even hard to buy food and other items that I needed. At a certain point I had to borrow money from friends just to cover my bases for a month. I turned into a wreck and I finally reached my breaking point.

Looking back at this moment, I suppose a lot of people would've just self destructed, it was certainly a tempting prospect at the time. Another option would of been for me to blame everyone and everything around me for all my problems. A well placed deflection would do the trick here, certainly this wasn’t my fault! But something different came about in me. It was at this moment that It became crystal clear to me how I got here, and I had no one else to blame but myself.

My decisions and choices in life had lead me to this point and I’ve made my bed and now I have to lay in it. Rather than following my intuition and instincts, I chose a path that society forced upon me, a path fueled by fear and conformity. Living in safety rather than taking risks and going after what you really wanted. I felt a break in my psyche, not in a psychotic way, but like an opening. A grand awakening you might call it. It was like I was ripped open and ready for new input.

The progressive nature of the Vancouver’s east side provided a new source of input for me. It was a far cry from the traditional life outlook at that you would find in eastern Canada. A far cry from the dominating influence of conservative Christianity, Islam and Judaism that dominated my surroundings in Toronto. Vancouver always had a different energy to it, a more free and open vibe that was fostered by eastern philosophy and new age thinking. I wanted answers and I didn’t know how exactly to find them, but through a series of events I found the answers that I needed.

These answers came quickly and very overwhelming as I realized them. And they were simple notions.

You are a programmed machine and you’ve been living your life on autopilot. This came about very quickly when I started watching videos and lectures from spiritual philosophers like Osho and Allan Watts. And then I realized I’ve been living in my head after reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now”. Life isn’t happening in your mind, it’s happening right now in the present moment. Not in the past memories, nor is it in the future projections that your mind generates. If I’m dwelling in the past, then I would set myself up for depression and regret. If I’m lost in the uncertainty of the future, then what awaits me is nothing but anxiety. That constant living in my head and coupled with societies conditioning had created an illusion of what reality actually was. An illusion that creates a self defeating and self limiting mental operating system that produces mindless consumers and highly neurotic individuals. An operating system that forces you to think in predetermined patterns so that you never know the true nature of yourself and the intelligent power that lies within you.

From that moment I realized that I had to decondition myself and figure out life not based on mental abstraction, but one based on direct experience. This is my initiative; to discover what life really is about based on my direct experience and observation. To free my mind from the bondage that it has been put in and to express myself and leave a dent in this world.

Life isn’t a spectator sport, and if you're not playing then you’re not going to win.