Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The journey of the prodigal son, Day 1

The journey of the prodigal son... you may wonder, "What the heck is that"?  Isn't prodigal mean someone who was lost?  Isaac, what's wrong with you...

To make the long story short, I wrote this as I just returned from Montreal, a town both I consider my home but also a place I struggle to come back to.  Why?  I guess I left many things undone and regrets there. Most important among them: I went to Montreal to complete a Master degree in Computer Science.  Although the journey did help me to find a job and earn my many friends, I was also distracted, so I never completed my thesis when I left for work in August.  I completed the bulk part, but once I arrived at Seattle, I lost faith in myself, and I lost the heart in completing it.

Although I told both my parents and my supervisor that I will complete, I was avoiding it subconsciously... though many weekends I hid in the library to write it, the progress eventually slowed... to the point that I was deceiving myself, and those who cared for me, while I never intended to complete it anymore.

Then came the bombshell: as I was struggling how to face this failure, I discovered I wasn't considered one of my supervisor's students anymore.  I was devastated (but at the same time, expected it), so I renewed the contact with him after 6 months of disappearance.  From that point onward, I knew that at the present stage I just couldn't complete it, so I asked for his forgiveness, and at the same time, planned what I was going to do next.

I was intending to go to UW to attend the 2 yrs Master's program for professionals.  Surely it would cost more but I just didn't want to give it up once again...  As I discovered, I need to paid a lot more and not definitely possible for my current circumstance.  I knew that I tripped myself but I didn't want to fail and give up once more.

So as I was prepared to go back to Montreal for Caryn's (a dear friend and a person I was deeply in debt to in many things) wedding, I emailed him, and asked if I could meet him 1-on-1 for his advices and also his forgiveness, given his investment in me was wasted.

So meeting him was the second thing I did when I arrived on Friday morning.  The first thing, however, was a reunion with pastor Terry Young (Yeung Mok), whom was my spiritual mentor during my years in Montreal.  For me, it was tough to face both, because both of them are the ones I consider mentored me, and at the end I was a disappointment to them.

Anyway, I returned back to Martin's office at 3 pm and talked with him for half around an hour, until I knew that I needed to leave... 

No, my old mentor didn't reject me... just that I was given a second chance to complete the essay, and he was willing to help me to complete the degree if I finish the thesis.  When I offered to have a drink with him at the Grad Pub, he said, "let's celebrate when you finish your thesis".  I guess I didn't need to say more but plan how I need to complete it.

McGill was also "nicer" than I initially expected.  After I talked with Martin, I went to see Diti... the secretary/advisor for grad students who would know/control if i remain a McGill student.  It ends up that I forgot/didn't to pay the Winter tuition, but as long as I pay it back and register the course, I remain a McGill student until I submit the first draft of the thesis.  So, I still have two months to complete the draft (until Aug 29, 2008).

At the end, I left McGill campus that day a happier and more confident man than I was the last few months.  I guess my feeling is not better described as the prodigal son who intended to be the servant of his father's house, yet received the forgiveness and a second chance

I guess, redemption should be the most sought thing in life... throughout life we committed mistakes after mistakes that we just wished we could redeem and prove that we are redeemable.  We think so undeserving of ourselves that we are willing to aim for something lower to earn a bit of the redemption.  Yet, grace, at the most unexpected place, is given... it all depends if we are willing to seek for repentance and redemption.

Now I have two months to complete, which is more than enough and at the same time, not enough at all.  I already have plans to weed out distraction (minimize the chances that I can lose focus and time to other things) and the first thing is to blog about my progress daily, so I can remain accountable.  For those who by any chance read this, I hope you keep me accountable.  And if you happen to be my brothers or sisters, please keep me in your prayers.  I was by grace given a chance, I just don't want to blow this once again.

Anyway, almost immediately after I made the resolutions, distractions arise.  My car's battery died; I was expected to devote my time in an unrelated project at work for the next few days; my 3-yrs old laptop was unusable to the point that I reformatted it; and my old habits still come back to haunt me...  But I made a few things in the "bucket list" that I need to finish:

  • Despite being a "frugal" person, it is time to buy a new computer... I need a reasonable tool to rerun the program if necessary, and 1/2 GB RAM in my laptop is just not enough.  I need to break through my tardiness and my frugalness to invest this money for long term.
  • Completed the remittal letter to Diti saying that I have repented and wanted to continue to stay in McGill.
  • Prepare the new laptop (installing miktex, a very tedious task, and also the ide and the tools for efficient navigation.  so I can write my paper on it nonetheless.
  • Get rid of some very bad habits, like waking up late, browsing the web and multitasking at work.

I guess, I have a very ambitious goal.  But if it is time to see if I have learned to make sacrifices to achieve my goals...

Shall continue my reporting in Day 2, the 25th.

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