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About Justin

To tell you a bit about myself, I'm going to need the help of Sonic the Hedgehog. That's right. Sonic the Hedgehog.

The Cosmic Joke

First, let's go back to just a few years ago. The first time I touched a handpan was on April 1, 2021. And although this is no joke, it sure feels like a big cosmic joke. Why?

Because it sounds like a joke that I would quit my full-time job as a senior software engineer, earning a six-figure salary at a nice cushy healthcare tech company to pursue... a metal... drum...? 🤔🤨

It also sounds like a joke that it would take me 10 years to realize that what makes me happy has nothing to do with climbing the corporate ladder or getting a salary increase. And it sounds like a joke that it would take me almost 20 years to fully understand why I was so drawn to tech in the first place.

Sonic the Hedgehog

See, my older brother and I used to create these online forums where we would host and moderate discussions about the things we really loved. My favourite (yes I spell 'favourite' with a 'u' because I am indeed Canadian 🇨🇦) was a forum all about Sonic the Hedgehog. I was 10 years old at the time, and the reason I know that is because I'll never forget my username, "TheSpeedyOne2001".

Our forums were so cool, man. We took the time to customize the colours, the font, and we even made all of the icons themed around Sonic the Hedgehog. We decked the place out with little icons of Knuckles, Tails, Doctor Robotnic, and even Metal Sonic. Bare in mind, this is in 2001 when customizing your fonts and themes for an online forum was super cool and edgy! 😂

But that's why kids from all over the world joined our message boards, and why we had a thriving community of avid Sonic fans discussing everything from the shows to the video games to the Sonic comic books, just everything that had to do with Sonic the Hedgehog. We paid attention to detail and we made it a cool place for kids to go after school. Except... online.

Connecting People

My point is, I love bringing people together, I really do. And I have a knack for using technology to do it. When I was in the software engineering world, I played the role of Scrum Master for my team. This role is responsible for keeping the teams that are involved in the project on the same page and focused on achieving the tasks that we planned to achieve. Like a coach. I also coached youth basketball development for 2 years. It was a weekend program where parents would bring their kids to a community centre in Mississauga , Ontario and coaches like me would train them to help them improve their skills.

Coaching and connecting people is just part of who I am. But when I discovered the handpan, I wasn't thinking about any of that.

I had been going through a bit of a rough time, having just experienced my first significant heartbreak. I felt like I didn't really know who I was anymore. Granted, a very minor problem in the grand scheme of things, I know. But it felt like a big deal. 

Mindfulness & Curiosity

Picking up the pieces of my identity felt exhausting and the self-doubt running through my mind felt like a heavy weight on my shoulders. But instead of dwelling in the pain for too long, I became curious about suffering. About what exactly causes suffering, and if there's any way to minimize it from the source.

That's when I discovered meditation. For me, meditation and handpan are like my Batman & Robin. In that order. I actually discovered the handpan while I was listening to meditation music on YouTube. From the moment I heard the instrument for the first time, I was... well... hooked.

I have been playing handpan for just under 3 years now. But I have completely dedicated myself to this instrument. I practice for many hours a day. I am traveling the world and connecting with handpan players and learning about their journey with this beautiful instrument.

And I would be honoured to be part of your journey and growth with the handpan, too.

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