Eden Chen

Reflections on 2015

Eden Chen January 17, 2016

Reflections on 2015

1000% business growth, heroism in South Central, crazy escapades in Europe, and the realization that it’ll never be enough

As silly as it sounds, every year since 2012, I’ve noted a general theme that has marked each year before the year began. I’ve noticed that years can have their own personalities and mini stories, much like a chapter in a book. 2012 was a year of failure, 2013 was a year of rest, 2014 was a year of new beginnings, and this year was a year of growth. There are very few things in life that are linear though, and over simplifying entire years by calling them one theme can be misleading.

This year our business really took off. We grew around 1000% and completely blew all of our projections out of the water. I’d love to say “I told you so” to all the doubters but the biggest doubter was and has always been myself. Quick tangent. When you grow up as a Wizards fan, it is impossible for you not to be a pessimist. Almost every close game ended in heartbreak. Every hopeful beginning ended in disappointment. That’s how I thought my businesses would go. I still think that’s how it will go. I suppose that’s why I have to keep working so hard. The Wizards… Anyways — I am so blessed to work with such an amazing team of people and I’m really excited to see what we can do together in 2016.

This year was our first in South Central. Carolyn and I moved here from the comforts of our Culver City condo because I’ve always envisioned myself as the heroic man that would radically move into a lower income neighborhood. Lives would be changed, neighborhood transformed. Reality is much slower. Relationships take time, ministry usually happens over the course of years not months. We love where we live and I have no intention of leaving despite the assumption and expectation from others that when we have kids we will move. I love every one of the kids here. I love that we can text and call each other. I love our neighbors and the stories and perspectives behind their faces. I love the stares from people when they see an Asian in the neighborhood. I love the same question I get from all my business counter parts and colleagues: is South Central gentrifying?

This year was my first time visiting Europe. We took a cruise through the mediterranean to Barcelona, Istanbul, Ephesus, Rome, Florence, Mykonos, Athens, Naples, and Venice. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Amazing… or was it? I realized that I don’t have a huge case of wanderlust. I like being able to say “I’ve been there” and a bit of travel here and there is cool but the truth is I like staying home and reading and listening to podcasts in my car. I’m not the most interesting person in the world and I can live with that. Maybe the best part of getting away is that it stops me from working.

Like every year, even a year themed “growth” was one of innumerable personal failures. I still can’t get myself to do the disciplines that I know are good for my long term growth. I always do the easy thing, which for me is to get immediate tasks done, tasks that are unending. I always tell myself just one more and then 10 hours later I still haven’t done what I really set out to do. I know that I need to be praying and reading first thing in the morning. I know that I need to spend time reflecting at least weekly.

When I look back on Facebook pictures to remind myself of what actually happened this year all the years seem to hold the same patterns. Same Christmas party at the end of the year. Same pictures at Jabez’s house during Christmas. Same new year’s party to start off the new year. Carolyn’s birthday party soon after. This post. Nothing lasts. As the famed preacher said in Ecclesiastes,

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 1:9

My response is to tell the preacher, things do change brotha. Creative art, inspiring music, and innovative technology! Oh, you won’t believe how technology has changed in the few thousand years since you’ve been alive! But I get the feeling the preacher was talking about something much deeper than this.

So despite the growth and the change this year the growth will never be enough. Trying to be a good person will never be enough. The travel will never be enough. I am deeply flawed and I, like all of us, need the grace and relationship of Jesus Christ.

I close with a quote from my man CS Lewis:

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”

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