Visual Dispatch #6

A photograph of two bits of paper. The first has "How do you want to feel?" written across the top with a list of adjectives below. They include connected, fulfilled, stable, lauded, validated, helpful, effective, accomplished, calm, grounded, proud, challenged. Below that are phrases like "Survival without worry" and "Creating empathy in others". The page on the right lists five categories "Financial, Emotional, Internal, External, and Visible".

I was emptying out my backpack this morning and a bunch of bits of paper fell out of a hidden sleeve. There were postcards from my trip to Hawai‘i in 2017, thumbnails from the comic about Federated Learning I made for Google in 2019, and a couple scraps of paper containing (I’m fairly sure) notes for this talk on success—also from 2019.

I wish I could remember where the lines in quotation marks came from. Maybe they were responses from the participants at that workshop? Maybe they came up before I even gave the talk? Either way, it reminded me how much I’d poured into those two presentations (the other was about money, surprising no one), and how glad I am to have recorded them.

I’m stuffed up with a head cold this week and feeling very sorry for myself, so this video window into a me who was, well, with it feels really validating. So much has changed and twisted and refined in the past two years. I feel smaller in some ways—like the circles of influence I previously occupied have shrunk considerably—but also deeper. In the five spheres of success above, I feel as if I’ve traded Visible, External, Financial, and possibly even Internal success for something deeply Emotional. And I’m still trying to let the dust settle on that decision and learn how to make peace with it.

The lesson remains: these questions are never truly answered. Not really. Not if I’m doing it right.