An autobiography can be the story of an entire life, or it can shine a light on one aspect of a life. The Way I See It takes a combined approach: It spans author Joseph K. Chan’s entire life, but focuses intently on several specifics along the way.
Chan opens the book by briefly recounting a family tree that spans 140 generations and 4,000 years. Then he discusses his own family’s travels, moving from China to the U.S., then to Hong Kong, then back to the U.S. It’s also a story of overcoming disability: Chan has had impaired vision and a muscle spasm disorder since birth, and adapting to these conditions has presented endless challenges. Other subjects that figure into the story are: meeting the love of his life and losing her to a terminal illness, the various jobs he held on the way to finding a career in accounting, musings on faith and philosophy, and reflections on life as an active volunteer in retirement.
If that list sounds a bit overstuffed, well, it is. Chan’s writing is personable and unpretentious, but he repeats himself often. The descriptions of jobs he held are just that: not personal stories but fairly dry recitations (although there’s an interesting tale of his work leading a team tasked with bringing an accounting department into “Y2K” compliance, a process fraught with error and doomed by a faulty air conditioner). The push to fit so much into one volume makes this feel like seven very short books, rather than a unified reading experience.
Taking that into account, The Way I See It will be appreciated by anyone with either retinitis pigmentosa or paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia and may offer inspiration to readers with other challenges as well. Chan’s friends and family will no doubt also appreciate this reflection on finding and fulfilling his life’s purpose.
Also available as an ebook.