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To know who I am, where I come from, what experiences shaped me, and what lessons those experiences have taught me.
David Hartley

I started thinking about writing a memoir of my life in my teens. Whenever I met someone new, I told them my life story (living in Santa Cruz, meeting the Hartleys, coming to America, growing up in Greenwich, and being adopted by the Hartleys. All this happened when I was young (14); they would say what an incredible story it was. They also mentioned how lucky I was to be adopted and grow up in one of the best areas of the United States. 

All those people don’t know that I am even luckier than they think. I’m not kidding. If I look at my life, there has been a series of pivotal times when I made a choice that affected the rest of my life. My story is extraordinary; it all happened because of one chance encounter. 

Pivotal, in the sense that my choice determined what came next. For example, I met the Hartleys outside one particular morning. I was there because I was on my way to work. They were there because they were filming their latest documentary. Furthermore, their visit to the Galapagos was an afterthought as their primary focus was Peru, the Incas, and Machu Pichu. Ecuador and the Galapagos were a way to spend more time in South America that summer. Yet, this encounter, how I reacted to it, and what followed would not have happened any other day or in any other way. The stars were aligned for me that morning. They are so ingrained in my mind that all I have to do is close my eyes, and I can picture that encounter as if I’m watching the scene in a movie. 

I could list all those encounters for you, but that does not do justice to them. Instead, I am writing this memoir to bring out all those memories, examine them as I write them, and relive them for the reader so that they can see them as I see them. They say that Monday morning quarterbacking is so easy. They are right; you have all the elements, you can see what happened, and you can see how things could go based on the choices made or not. 

I believe our entire lives are like that. We are born, grow up, live, and die. Every day, our choices determine the path we take through life. How we react to them makes the journey great or not. I learned that lesson early on in life, and it has guided me through it. I have learned to pick my battles and to know what is essential and what is not. I have taught this to my children so they can teach their children when the time comes. 

In a sense, I am writing this book with that in mind. To know who I am, where I come from, and what experiences shaped me. And what lessons have those experiences taught me? That is my wish for you.