50 Shades of Green…

Or – A Tale of 3 Cities.

Melvin Yuan
Nov 18, 2016 · 3 min read

My family and I live in 3 cities. By the end of this year, I would have spent 4 months in the San Francisco Bay Area; 3 in Singapore and 5 in Melbourne, Australia.

I don’t go for work. I go to live. I get there, get settled, live my life, do my work, and get packing again for the next city in a couple of months. And each time I leave, I know I’m coming back.

My family and I have trimmed all our worldly possessions down dramatically – so that we can pack up in a day, and get settled into another city in half.

Each time I’m in one, I think about life in another… And I yearn for it.

When I’m in Singapore, I’m caught up in a familiar busyness of a country with family, friends and culture I’ve grown up with. At a moment’s notice, I have the pleasure of being able to meet up with an old friend, or make a new shared connection. But in Singapore, I yearn for a quiet life in Melbourne, Australia where – hidden away from the world, I get to spend the early hours every morning in solitude, working, reading, breathing. I eat well, and sleep very well.

When I’m in the Bay Area – I feel my whole being come alive, because exciting things are built here; exciting discussions take place here. I don’t sleep much here. And I forget what I eat. The world is shaped out of the Valley (disruptive technology and exponential thinking). But my family is shaped in Singapore (where we have an extended family and friends who’ve loved us all our lives); and families have time and space to be built in Australia – where people have time for people, and few are rushing off to build the next big thing, or survive.

When I’m in Melbourne, Australia – I feel like a seed hidden in the soil. Late nights are rare here, people seem to care less about a disrupted future, and ambition seems duller here than in Silicon Valley. And in this city, my days are spent lavishly with my wife and children. One morning this winter (in Australia), I woke up from a vivid dream in which I had just died. And I was completely at peace. I knew – at that moment in my life – that I was truly close to what mattered most to me (my family) and that I had not squandered my time on anything that didn’t matter.

50 Shades of Green…

The grass is greener in the other side… And we often caution against comparing a current situation against another. But I compare; and I’m absolutely content… Because there is a richness in experiencing two (or three) different ideals (culture and lifestyle) – and fully immersing in the tension between them.

I sit across a world-changing, ambitious technology CEO in Silicon Valley, and I’m gripped by his tireless work and vision. While I want for myself, every part of it, I am thankful that another life can exist leisurely, and completely wrapped around family in un-distracting Melbourne. There (in Melbourne), I am rooted at home and look forward to the next season in the Valley where I get to stretch beyond the current thinking and ambition in my life and surroundings. I eat and sleep incredibly well. And Singapore is the safe place, the land of my birth, and a familiar home. It’s also an incredibly efficient city, and things ‘just work’ here.

3 Cities… one is the epitome of intellectualism and ambition; another – to me, the epitome of relationships; and the third – of health and ‘quality of life’.

There is a madness to living in multiple cities, and uprooting and replanting a whole family (with 2 kids) every other season. But there is a method.

More importantly, there is a richness experienced – in the shades of diversity.

(Written while in the San Francisco Bay Area)

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