I feel like I haven’t written here in ages. Don’t worry, I’m still alive. Lots of things have been going on recently, some of which I hope to write about in the near future.
However, that brings me to something I’ve been pondering for a while (like, months). What is the purpose of this blog? Why do I write here? Over the last ten years or so, this little space I’ve carved out has morphed significantly. It was first a place to share things I loved in a very static form: LEGO’s, Star Trek, James Bond, etc. I made some pages, and I tweaked them as I saw fit. It wasn’t very dynamic.
Around 2002, I started keeping a log of the changes I made to the site. And although it was mostly technical and administrative in nature, it could be considered the start of my web log. During my senior year of high school, I started to do what many people would consider blogging.
I think a lot of why I started blogging at that point was in preparation for going to college. At that point, I knew I would be going to school out of state (I hadn’t applied to any schools in Washington) and I wanted to remain connected to people back home in Seattle, primary family and friends. Still, it was mostly talking about school.
Blogging for me formally started when I switched to WordPress, I think this was in the fall of my Freshman year of college. I blogged about everything. One of my New Year resolutions in 2005 was to blog every day…and I did it.
At some point however, this has become less of a blog and more of a journal — a journal for me1 but which I share with the world. I don’t do this out of vanity, but because I believe in truth and honesty2.
Of course, journals come with all sorts of rawness. Life isn’t a perfect venture all the time, and journals usually reflect that. It helped that most of what I was focusing on in school was relatively low risk, and hence this blog was pretty easy to write; I just had to get through classes, which while hard, was something that was feasible.
Life after school is something entirely new, it’s a beast. And in many ways, something I wasn’t quite prepared for. I’ve written more private journal entries this year than I have in any other year, even though I’ve been posting less overall.
At points I’ve thought about taking this journal and making it entirely private, or completely passphrase protected. I even thought about shuttering site completely, for real.
But dating someone and then breaking up have made me realize some very important: This is not a me question. This is not a problem I’m facing because of something I did (or didn’t do). The feelings I have, the issues I’m dealing with, the questions I’m asking are things that I believe many people my age are asking — maybe not out loud, but they’re asking.
I believe that many people are wondering who they are, what they’re doing, and where they should go. I believe that many people are wondering why they haven’t found that one person, or that one vocation, or whatever they need in order to feel complete in life. This is not a problem unique to me because I am an engineer or because I am a Christian, although that certainly plays into it.
I also believe that one of the best ways to work on these issues is to talk about them. And for me, that conversation starts here, with my journal. It’s a conversation I have with myself, that I share — or not (not everything is fit for sharing with everyone…which is another thing I’m learning).
Consider this your fair warning: Blogs can be about many things, this one is going to be my journal of sorts3.
And that’s where I am.
For everyone at The Colorado School of Mines, class starts today. Despite the fact that I’m not in school, I still like to celebrate this day, taking note of its significance. For me, it’s almost like New Years day, being the start of the school year and all.
I’ve been thinking recently a lot about the desires and challenges of life and where they lie. I have fond memories of playing in my backyard with my brother and my neighbors when I was little. During the summer, I would design tree forts and think, “If only I had the money to build this.” I had a desire to have the means necessary to fund my adventure.
Back then, I got something around a $5 allowance/week. And I could earn some extra money by doing some extra chores. But the $250 in materials needed was freaking huge. I dreamt of ways to come up with money so I could build the ultimate tree fort; I mowed lawns through middle and high school and eventually started fixing computers for friends and family who would also pay me. It never seemed like enough and always got spent in other places, mostly LEGOs. But I desired for the day that I would be a grownup and making lots of money; and then I could do anything!
Of course, there’s a certain innocence in being a child. While I wasn’t making any money, I also didn’t have to worry about other adult things, like figuring out living situations, paying for rent and utilities, working a little bit, and being generally responsible.
I had a desire to go to college, learn about engineering and get a job. Maybe I would build airplanes. I knew it would be a challenge, but I was prepared.
I went off to college and learned a lot. I had to deal with finding food on my own. Mom and Dad were no longer there to cook meals and I was 1000 miles from home. I had to do laundry, get up on my own, plan ahead, and keep my grades up; all without anyone else being there. I had several internships where I traded in some more responsibility for some more pay. But it wasn’t enough. I felt restricted in what I could do as an intern and in the limited confines of a classroom. My desire was to be done with school and to grow up; to go out into the world and make a difference. I wanted to make my mark on society and I was going to do this by challenging myself to be the best damn engineer the world has ever known1.
When I graduated, I took on an entirely new set of responsibilities. I had a job — a real, full-time job — and practically all the responsibilities of being grown up2. I had to deal with insurance in all its wonderful forms, making doctors appointments, scheduling vacation, getting enough sleep, budgeting, etc. I was working on integrating myself into society as a contributing member of what makes this world work. I had the desire to grow up more though, to contribute even more to society. My new challenge was to meet a woman, date her, marry her, and start a perfect nuclear family3.
Several months ago, probably starting during my trip to Haiti, I took pause.
At every point in life, I was measuring my level of happiness not by what I had, but by what I desired. It was never enough to have accomplished what I set out to do, because there was always another bigger desire behind it. And each desire became increasingly complex and time consuming. What was I really chasing?
I wanted to be grown up. I think I saw not being grown up as a limitation on what I could accomplish and a limit on what my opportunities were.
I came across this bit from C.S. Lewis4:
Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
This was one of those “A ha!” moments for me. Before, being an adult meant being grown up. But now, I can start to see the difference between the two. And so I think about what my desires for life really are; what are the things that I truly could not bare to be without?
So far, I’ve come up with three things:
- A loving relationship with my creator.
- A loving relationship with the people I care about.
- Never to be left unchallenged.
The last one, while it is last for a reason, is also important. As Scott Adams has pointed out, “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.”
I love solving things. I love figuring things out. What makes me excited to wake up in the morning is knowing that I have still have so much to figure out. I know I can be a better Christian, a better boyfriend, a better friend, a better engineer, a better coworker, a better person. I know there are so many things left to explore, there are many questions left to ask, and there are many challenges left to solve. I know I won’t be able to accomplish everything, but I that’s not the point. Besides, if I were to accomplish it all, what would I do with myself?
And so I wake up saying, “Today, I will try to be better than I was yesterday.”
Perhaps this is the blessing5 and what makes me so excited: a God who loves me, friends that care about me, and things — such as dating Carly — that challenge me in all the good ways….and vice versa.
Here’s to another successful trip around the sun.
The last month (of travel last year) was an interesting collection of friends from half a world away. I was with Charlie by this point (beginning of July) in Italy where we met up with his friend Andy, who’s from Germany but Charlie actually meet in Ecuador.
While in Italy, we also met up with James, who know both Charlie and me from Seattle, and Mark — who James knows from his time at Occidental.
I left Charlie in Italy and continued on to Switzerland where I met up with Quinn, a best friend from Seattle, at L’Abri. We then continued north and to hang out with Remo and Gunther, who first stayed with my family over 13 years ago in Seattle when Remo was in school.
After traveling with Quinn a bit, Charlie met back up with us in Prague (just in time for the tour). We finished touring together in Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany: Three great friends half a world away.
This weekend is going to be ridiculously awesome! This evening, Carly and I are going Buzz Putting1 with a bunch of friends to celebrate Beth’s birthday. Then tomorrow we’re going to have breakfast and enjoy the Blue Angles — whom I haven’t been in town to see for the last two years — then a Polish wedding, a bachelor party2, all topped off with lunch with Jon and Kristen — who are getting married in less than a month — on Sunday!
Anyway, that wraps up the Photo Time Capsule series; hope you enjoyed the tour!
Once upon a time….
…. in a land far away….
…. there lived a boy….
…. who was waiting.
He loved his family, he loved his friends, and more than anything, he loved God.
Now, this prince had within his heart a desire a desire that one day, another would come who would glorify the Lord with him and walk this path of life.
So, he waited1 in the arms of his Father, knowing that all He does is perfect.
Then one day….
…. his Father said….
…. “it is time.”2
I would like you to know that I have a girlfriend. Her name is Carly and she’s awesome. We’ve been good friends for several months now (we also went to Haiti together) and after lots of back and forth-ing, some might even say arguing, I asked her out two weeks ago and then we decided to start dating.
To say it’s been a long road to this point would be an understatement. However, we both agree that the adventure is just beginning. Unfortunately, Le GF is going on a road trip tomorrow, followed by me taking a trip to Colorado, so I won’t see her for a week-and-a-half.
I’m reading Rework by Jason Fried and David Hansson of 37signals. It’s very much a book about business, management, and entrepreneurship. But I came across this section and couldn’t help but see how it was applicable to my life in dating:
Would you go into a relationship planning the breakup? Would you write the prenup on a first date? Would you meet with a divorce lawyer the morning of your wedding? That would be ridiculous, right?
You need a commitment strategy, not an exit strategy. You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship. If your whole strategy is based on leaving, chances are you won’t get far in the first place.
Don’t be that guy. If you do manage to get a good thing going, keep it going. Good things don’t come around that often. Don’t let your business be the one that got away.
I also love the illustrations!