August 20, 2020

On change

In a short couple of days I will be starting graduate school in the Netherlands and as with every big move I have done in my life, there are always uncertainties, anxieties but also expectations.

I decided to trade a well compensated position in technology for university life and even though I have spent time evaluating, thinking and preparing for this, ultimately one can never know how something will turn out for the best, all we can do is try our hardest.

I love thinking about sailing and life. Anyone who has sailed will recognize the skipper nor the crew have full control of the ship. All they can do is adjust the rudder, tighten the sails point in the desired direction, after that, it is impossible to tell which way the wind will blow. All a sailor can do is be in tune to the changes in the weather and adjust the vessel accordingly. Life, I believe, is much like sailing, one chooses a worthy goal, and then works with the winds of life to take you there, hopefully enjoying the detours along the way.

I started thinking about a change in my life a number of years ago while I noticed a certain level of dissatisfaction in different jobs I held. Though most of the time it was due to the typical characteristics of a corporate job, many times my responsibilities at work never aligned with what I perceive are the needs of our current society. That bothered me the most because I believe my skills and my time are my main contributions to society. Ultimately, society compensates human beings based on demand and not on what is actually net good for society. Expecting to have a job that completely aligns with my values and is also profitable is a bit of an illusion, nor am I wealthy enough to completely disregard the need for a job that provides for me and my family. I am, however, curious enough to keep exploring alternatives that will balance these forces in my life.

Lately I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering and reading about the field of quantum computing, and more importantly I have been inspired to be a participant in the field because I believe there is an opportunity to improve human society. I believe in this space I can have a greater probability for meaningful impact to society (of course there is a real chance the field stalls or even fails, but exploring dead ends still brings value to society). Moreover, if the field is going to see progress, it needs to build on the lessons of scaling classical computing and attract people from diverse backgrounds and experiences; people willing to learn about this field but that can also leverage their experience to move it forward.

My personality, I have come to learn, draws a lot of satisfaction from learning. Probably why moving and living in different parts of the world has been part of my life, and is currently one of the big motivators in pursuing this opportunity outside of my current community. I find living in a different culture very rewarding as it gives me the chance to witness how other people solve problems, how other societies organize themselves (for the benefit or detriment of its members), how other communities enjoy and celebrate life. These are the experiences that have enriched my life in the past, that have inspired me to be a better human being.

Everything in life has trade offs and pursuing this goal comes with a fair share of them. The biggest trade off being the separation from my community. I often think that the roots are to a tree what a community is to a person. The roots keep a tree nourished and grounded. And find that losing contact with one’s community (if only temporarily) is painful.

Another difficult part of this change has been the delay of other goals my wife and I have been planning and working towards. Indeed this change is different from the others I have done in the past because now I have someone to share this new season with, but also there is another life making sacrifices and going through the ups and downs of being a foreigner. I count myself lucky to have someone by my side who shares my values and is willing to step into the unknown with me.

And isn’t this one of the ways we are called to live life? To point our boat towards a new port and enjoy as much as one can of the journey there.

© Esteban Ginez 2020