To start, this marks as my 100th post since starting this new web site in January 2008. It has been a fun and useful vehicle to me to post, share, and learn. It’s a keeper.
I am going to stray off the beaten path of technology and rants a bit by sharing a recently emerged concept in my consciousness: driven by now. Ironically, this started by dissecting recent “social” events with my father that ended in often-too-typical disappointment. And as of late, my apathy towards loved ones has grown over the years, because the many “things” that come with family have become more and more out of my control. I have learned (slowly) to just ‘let it go’, and I have been mostly better for it. But with each release comes an unsettling urge to repeat past patterns of trying. After all, my discipline in information technology has conditioned me to hold to the logic that doing the same thing only results in the same — and “believing” it to result differently is naive, and worse, “expecting” different results is the basis for insanity.
I am reminded by a colleague that I am bothered by my concentrated effort to “stay away” comes from being a middle child. My upbringing squeezed after my two older brothers and before my younger brother and sister placed me in a diplomatic role: one who makes the peace and often works to appease both sides with reason, trickery, and on occasion, even bribes. Reviewing past events of how I handled conflicting events and crisis moments, I think a lot of that rings true with me.
But should my persona of “allow me to help you because I can” extend into every encounter with family, work, and the occasional opportunities life offers outside those primaries? The dilemma it poses me is weighing the consequences of my short-term actions against long-term results (which is getting shorter as I get older) and how it competes with my own priorities: health, wealth, and happiness. Why am I so driven by now?
Examining my past, I start with my father. Over the decades, I observed how he is personally motivated by the now and centered around the manner in which he operates to make for a self-gratification result. I do not mean that in a total bad sense, but plainly, if it has any benefit for him, then it must be ‘a good thing’ to do. And he will either graciously allow or charm you into participating the augmenting of or supplying him with that he pursues to feed his appetite. On some rare occasions long ago, I was led to believe there were moments my father was “putting out for the good of someone else”. But upon closer examination of those past events, and like many others touched by his life, there was an underlying cause that somehow rolled back to just him.
The result of his constant feeding off others is probably not all bad. I do owe my father my strong sense of self-worth, that I am someone special, endowed with gifts. I just choose to share them as selflessly as my modesty allows, because I am confident in my abilities to execute and I am personally gratified when I can enrich someone or improve upon a situation from what I have to offer. But is my approach really any better?
My mother was mostly opposite of my father, in that most of what she did was motivated for the welfare of her family. Throughout long years of selflessly doing what she believed was necessary, she also understood she could not help her family whenever her feeble condition got the better of her — but after all, self-preservation is not a sin, it is the basic of instincts. Her daily motivations were focused on present situations and needs, while she constantly and quietly worried about the future. She reminded us to take care of our provisions: clothing, food, education and to be mindful of each other. They were our tools to grow and were mostly short in supply. There was no such thing as a free lunch and everyone had to pull their own weight to avoid placing that expense onto others. I can see how those realities only fueled more animosity over the years towards a father that held himself exempt of such duty and loyalty.
My mother’s lessons formed the basis for which I have attached what love means to me; and something I have appreciated many long years with my wife, Lois. That understanding and conviction in those beliefs allows an abundance of joy to fill my days without any want. It tempers my drive to take on the now. And I am better for it.