February 13, 2006

Today is the first day of the rest of my life

So I've had a few half-started posts sitting here that I just never finished. They're gone now, having little motivation to talk about Opera versus Firefox 1.5 or GTK+ (who wants to hear about that?). This exposes rather well my problem with this whole blog thang. I set out with this hoping it would be a nice commentary on my life--more than personal blather that, in my opinion, belongs in a personal journal, but moreso what I'm thinking about, a public sounding board for my reflections and insights on technology, programming, and music. Of course it would be personal, because it's mine, but about things that would interest and benefit the Internet community, or "blogosphere" if you will. (I hate that word almost as much as "blog".)

But I'm no good at journaling. My past attempts have fizzled. I thought this would fare better than a journal because it would be online. However, the opposite has been true. I've simply let it go, not in the least because my life has been a bit too personal lately, so I have little energy left for writing on here.

My solution? A longish post about my life at present.

As you can see from my last post, I now have a son. Even though I'm not raising him, it's amazing to me how much that simple fact changes things for me. In large and small ways, things shift focus and emphasis in my life. Mostly, it makes me realize that there are plenty of things in my life in which I put too much value. It's been my lifelong goal to be a husband and father, but at the moment, I see that I'm not ordering my life as such, nor have I in the past few years. I've been far too selfish with my time and relationships. The consequences have been severe: I brought a boy into the world in the midst of a relationship that was not ready for him, said relationship has since crumpled under the pressure, and I'm left unable to handle dealing with moving on or getting over that.

I find it necessary, especially after posting pictures before, to post some pictures of Samuel Stuart Steven, the beautiful boy that he is. Here are two that are particularly dear to me. He looks so very much like Pearl and me!

I've been reading a great book about depression called Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. It's about the concept of learned helplessness and explanatory style. It's all about how you respond to adversity in life. There are three levels on which to evaluate things: whether the event is personal, whether it is permanent, and whether it is pervasive. He says that pessimism tends towards those three, and optimism tends away from them. It's amazing what a little awareness will do, and I've been catching myself explaining things very pessimistically, from something as small as burning some food that I'm cooking ("Blast! I am such a loser! I always do that!") to something as large as my relationship with Pearl ("I'm worthless and my love life is doomed"). Of course, total optimism wouldn't do in the latter case, because what happened is not Pearl's fault per se (I don't even like to think of it in terms of anyone's fault or blame), it's not immediately temporary (I'm not ready to love again), and it's not completely specific (e.g. what happened with our relationship is directly related to my spiritual struggles of late). Thinking optimistically would be short-sighted and immature. So while I can't be completely optimistic about everything, I'm finding that I'm far too pessimistic about most things. This is the deep work I need to do, and I'm very glad I'm in counseling to do it.

All in all, though this past year has been the toughest of my life, I'm beginning to see some good changes in myself and things are looking up, bit by bit. I'm not sure if all of these things will make sense in a general way, but there are a few things that I've noticed that mark significant changes in the way I operate:
  1. I don't want to spend hours on my computer fiddling around with crap and tweaking the hell out of my system. I do still like and use Linux, but I want it to work for me and not the other way around.
  2. My musical tastes are changing. I have found Bruckner to encapsulate almost all that I'm feeling, in such a way that his music has constantly and repeatedly been pointing me to God. His ninth Symphony in particular seems to hold together all the pain and grief I've felt and lift it up before God in release. The Adagio therefrom has brought me to tears.
    In general, I find myself lately favoring the Romantics and the slow movements of music, whereas I have always before tended towards the formalized Classical models. (I think it's that Bruckner holds both together so well that I've taken to him so much.)
  3. I've been much more accepting of people and their faults, particularly in my family. My family is the best example of love that I have on Earth, and the best opportunity for me to love. Accepting and loving them has been a hard thing for me over the years, but it's worth it.
  4. I've been spending a lot more time with my family, and I see the benefits most directly in my relationship with my little sister Kaitlyn. It's become important to us to spend time together, and I treasure that.
So, all told, this is ostensibly my last post. There's just too much life to be lived to worry about this blog thing. Perhaps I will pick this up again in the future, but I don't necessarily see that happening. Time will tell.

Bis dann and Adieu,


Anonymous said...

Hey, visited your site. Saw some sort of XFCE screenshot link. Wanted to know if there's a way to take the panel in XFCE and change it to look sort of like a Windows 95 panel? See, I finally got my wife on Linux, but GNOME desktop and panel are such a dog. If I switch her to XFCE, it might be a lot snappier.

P.S. The stuff mentioned on your site looks sort of like what I mention on my site.

Andrew said...

I would agree that switching to Xfce would be a Good Thing. And yes, you can make it look like Windows. You can add the panel menu plugin, the clock and system tray. 4.4 is better, but of course, it is still beta. But Thunar (the new file manager) is worth it alone. (You can get all of that on Ubuntu Dapper, which you should be using anyway. ;)

I'll check out your site; I'm warning that comments may appear. :P

Anonymous said...

hi andrew-
my name is rohini and i work for the philadelphia orchestra. we were wondering if you were posting our events up on the upcoming.org events. we ask this because we wanted to know if you were the same person who posts about us on dailycandy.com. anyway- my email is rchoudhury@philorch.org
do get back to me at your earliest convenience! and this was the only contact available from the upcoming events website.

amanda bee said...

I really like It's Easier Than You Think, by Sylvia Boorstein, and The Heart of Understanding (Thich Naht Hahn). The first my mother gave to my boyfriend, the second a friend gave to me with an inscription about learning to breathe at read lights. Both are good for picking up and putting back down and then picking up again in six months or a year, for thinking about your life and learning to be happy without just faking it.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, thank you for your post, I am using Linux to post to my blog, but it will drop the connection which is odd. The hardware and drivers all work, this machine never dropped the connection 2 weeks ago (when I was at school).

Adam and Julia Towell said...

You are such an inspiration... I am intrigued by your thoughts and your perspective on life...
I love you, cousin!