Sunday, February 6, 2011


I had a homework assignment for a book study group. The task for me was to ask people what the believe I want in life. I received a number of answers. Some I didn’t like; I disliked them enough to ponder on them and take a break from updates. But now I’m back. I wanted to share some of them but I know people will say it’s a bit unfair to only share negative ones. So I’ll share some positive ones. Here are a few.

I think you really want to be an artist (actor/singer) and activist. Like an activist who helps kids---those in true need.
I think what you want in life is to learn, to love, and to express your thoughts about both of the previous. Actually, those 3 are sort of wrapped up in each other, you do one to do the others. On the most basic and obvious level, the learning is done through reading and such. The loving is done through helping people and being a friend to others. And the expression is done through the arts such as singing and writing. But that is just the obvious level. In reality, those three things are intertwined, and you do all three when you do any one (usually. I suppose there are times when only 1 or 2 happen at a time for you as well). That’s all I have to say about that.
What do I think that you want? I think you want recognition. Not in the sense of prideful fame, but in the sense of the establishment encouraging and accepting all of the contributions that your talents can produce.
Hi Victor....a stream of comments on my impressions of who you are. The paths available are many and the path you choose will lead to another path...and on and on... each will build on another - even those that were not your favorites.

Your heart lies in the global humanitarian fields.....true humanitarian work....not a vacation humanitarian who counts hours of service.

You are a Christian.....not the kind that follows systems and rules but the true kind that walks in the steps of Christ following the principles that he taught...not a weekend Christian. The true humanitarians quietly broke the rules....made Christ did. Doing what is right is not always popular. Padre Pio, Joan of Arc, Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, Mark and Louise Zwick (Casa Juan Diego), the 12 apostles and the list goes on. Interestingly the 12 He chose as His support were not what you would have thought of as stellar Christian examples.

You have a true missionary spirit.....not the kind that prosthelitizes.(sp) ..but teaching by living the example.

Learned a new term yesterday Human Geographer - seems to fit you.
Regarding your homework assignment, I think of you living your life as a quest for knowledge and understanding, and for making a positive impact via your loving, generous spirit.
I think you want to do it all.
What do you want in life? Hmmm...I find this hard to answer for you. I
see you as someone who has all the answers. I see you as someone who
if selfless. If there is anything you want, most of it will be
something for others. But enough rambling like a want
Love in your life. I don't need to know if that is what you want. I
have no need to be right. But I want you to have Love in your life...
I think you want the following out of life:
to make an impact on the world around you
to be loved

You know, basic stuff. But I think whoever assigned this assignment was kind of presumptuous. I mean who the heck knows what anyone else wants in life? Anyway, miss you much! Hugs to you!
I think you want very little. I think you enjoy what you have and what life brings you. I also think you like responding to life rather than designing a life. Your heart seems to be in music and performing. I think you like living and acting what is written. You understand roles very well. I don't think you enjoy writing them as much. Your writing is not in story telling style. It is not audience oriented. It is more like listing facts and observations. I think you want to take in everything to the fullest and some day build something with it to share with others.

There seems to be invisible forces in your life that keeps you thorn between engineering and art. Perhaps that conflict is a motivator, I can't tell. Looks like you are caught between right and wrong. Something, someone or some experience has convinced you that the right thing to do is want what you studied instead of following your heart. You may be thinking the only reasonable way to follow your heart is if it is for serving God which could make it acceptable to forgo doing the right thing that your mind pesters you about.

My guess is that you may be exploring what you want in life not because you don't know it, but to discover a way to "allow" yourself to want what you want. We are all going through similar questioning in various phases. My thought is that what we want is not as relevant as how much we want something. It is the degree of wanting that puts us in motion. When we are equally divided in are wants we are stalled.

Oh, I just realized you asked the question because of a book! Oh well...


You have non-Christian friends, but I think there are like points (or trophies)to your Christian friends. Don’t worry, though; all Christians do this.

I think you want to help people but more than that, you really want to please other people. You want everyone to be happy with you, but you need to stop because you’re ruining your life. You need to be able to shut some people completely out of your life like I have done.

Also I have been an atheist for 13 years and it’s the happiest I’ve been in my life.

PS Please don’t try to pray to God to convert me. I’m fine.

A lot of people said I want to help others or I want very little. Some said I want impact lives. A number of people said I want knowledge and want to learn. Some people said I want either to love or to be loved.

A few took a while to process. I had to process the recognition comment because I would have thought (about myself) that I want impact, not recognition. In other words I would take impact without recognition but am not interested in recognition without impact. But my friend said he didn’t mean recognition like I normally meant it.

Another (the penultimate) said I was feeling tugged between engineering and the arts. There is truth there or, let me say, I know why she said it. I do feel currently in my life I do feel passionate about international development and using engineering skills to passionately help people help themselves in developing their communities and pulling themselves out of poverty. That friend misunderstood and wrote it from the misconception that I was struggling with what I want; she didn’t realize I was doing it for a homework assignment. I don’t know if she would have written something different.

The last one is interesting. It made me stop and ask why I could get some messages that seemed partly contradictory to other comments. I realized that I had to consider what everyone said (I am never in a position where I immediately dismiss criticism). What I realized is that different people knew me different amounts, some people judged me from updates (as opposed to a relationship outside of group email), some didn’t know me as well as others, and people are different places in their own lives dealing with different problems of which I may not know. Or I could actually be quite contradictory or perhaps showing different parts of myself to different people or having multiple personalities. So I must factor that all in.

But these comments (and others; I couldn’t include them all) made me think about myself. I’m a flawed person. Some think I’m crazy; I had two people call me autistic a few weeks ago (I don’t get it). I’m a simple guy, somewhat of a loner but always working on community as I learn to live relationally with people in all I do (with my money, food, etc.). I’m not prone to pornography or stealing (though I can be tempted by anything if presented in the right time and place), but I am given to pride and work on my pride indirectly (not by trying not to be prideful but by realization of who am I, my place in the world and universe, the impact of so many people in my life, etc..). I’m also given to lying; this might confuse people who know me to be very big on the truth and being true to my word. But I only say lying because that’s what it is; I don’t care so much about people understanding any particular truth or fact about me and will many times remain silent instead of correcting people when they have a misconception about me. I may sometimes make statements that can be taken multiple ways but I don’t worry about clarifying it. Especially when I’m in situations when I feel too many people know me, I like to guard my anonymity or mystery (people say).

As much as I try to continue on a path of elevation and enlightenment, as much as I continue to get offended less and embarrassed less, it still happens. I was meeting the head of my agency/department a week ago and we went around the circle to introduce ourselves and my heart was beating before I spoke. This bothered me. I was able to control it better when we had the same meeting with an Undersecretary/Assistant Administrator type. Ha ha!

So that’s me. But I should continue. In the last excerpt from a good friend, my friend said non-Christians were points for me. That’s actually not true if I know myself. There are people in my family who love being in and out of Christian communities. I’ve always been quite comfortable and happy with people different from myself. In fact, this point in my life is the period in my life in which I’ve known the fewest Christians and the most non-Christians. I know more non-Christians than Christians in my life today in DC. And I’ve always enjoyed having with my people outside the church. So I don’t think that was true.

Continuing with my faults, many of you know that in the past I was engaged. That ended, and I take full blame and responsibility for that. I believe that is what the person was referring to in the response about being disappointed in me and needing to cut people out of my life. You see, our relationship was a bit different in that we not only informally counseled people but people looked at our relationship as an example. It wasn’t that the she was an amazing woman (she is) and it wasn’t that people liked me, but it was specifically something extra and beyond that, something about our actual union that blessed people. We both had many girl friends (and a few male friends) who had never known what it is like to be loved by a man, really, truly loved. So they will take men who don’t love them, or they will take what they can get. So people looked at us and saw that true loving relationships were possible. Some people looked at us and thought “Oh, this is what it’s supposed to look like.” So people were disappointed.

It makes me laugh to think about it: in counseling we’re not supposed to cry more than the client who is going through the crisis or trauma. But when people would find out that the relationship was over, I’ve had people cry while in conversation with me, cry more than me. Or I’ve had people very, very angry at me. I’ve had some people very disappointed in me. Most people blame me either explicitly or implicitly. I believe that’s why this response is critical. So I don’t wish to talk about it, but I’ll address it.

Most people haven’t spoken to me about it, so I actually believe that what many people believe happened may not be true. I could be misguided but I believe I did everything in my power to salvage the relationship and to keep it going. I did. And I take full responsibility for the relationship ending (but not why many people believe). I’ve heard when you’re with someone you’re supposed to make that person feel like the most important person in the world. I didn’t do that; I failed. And for that, I deal with the consequences every day. My good friend Maeve tells me not to self-reject.. I hope I’m not; I think I’m just giving facts. :-)

One thing for which I’m grateful is the ability to comfort others who are going through something similar. There’s a woman in my program whose engagement was called off. Another guy in the program was engaged before. Two friends are getting a divorce, and my boss is in a custody battle with her husband for her children. Her situation really kills me; her two children are simply beautiful and she treats me so well; my heart goes out to her because sometimes you can catch her at a wrong moment when perhaps the situation is affecting her. A really good friend (bountifully full of beauty and life) just had her international relationship of 1 year end abruptly and suddenly as she was preparing to move to Africa to be with him. She is still shocked to this day. I just saw Christmas Carol on Sunday (Sunday before Thanksgiving) and poor Ebenezer Scrooge had actually been engaged when he was younger; I had forgotten but the Ghost of Christmas Past helped me remember, and I knew what he went through though he’s a figment of Dickens’ imagination. But the actor had to feel it right? Ha! The ability to understand, come alongside, and just be there to understand is a flower from a toilet.

In all the responses I received, some were different enough that it was important to use judgment and ask others for input on the differences. There were various reasons. I didn’t think my friend (with the last response) knew me that well because I had no urgent unction to get on my knees and start praying for her because she called herself atheist. Partly it just didn’t occur to me, but it’s partly due to the fact that atheism and the Judeo-Christian tradition are closer than we realize, sometimes.

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