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Entries in identity (11)

Monday
Nov212011

How Many Questions Did You Ask?

Despite the fact that I'm some sort of savant when it comes to eliminating discrepancy, I've realized it's impossible to do so in normal, daily living. So, instead of viewing discrepancies between behavior and values as problems, I view them as opportunities for growth.

This is a much healthier approach, by the way, than the one I utilized in my 20s that went something like, "I AM A HORRIBLE PERSON, WHY ISN'T ANYTHING I DO EVER, EVER GOOD ENOUGH?!"

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post called "Edit Your Life and Keep Your Shoes" inspired by a TED talk by Graham Hill called, "Less Stuff, More Hapiness." Arguing that the greatest skill in the 21st century is the ability to edit one's life, Hill suggests that we focus on trying to minimize the amount of things we have in order to better live our values.

That's why we downsized our living space (and consequently personal possessions) by about 70% when we moved to Memphis. A few weeks ago, I realized that there's only one other family in this building besides us, and I assume this is because people believe that a family needs lots of space. I can understand that, but I think that actually depends more on the the people in charge of that family than the number of people in it.

I realized this year that too much space and too many things in this family ultimately creates situations that are in direct contradiction with our family mission statement. Our family mission statement?  Why, I'm glad you asked:

We are compassionate, positive social contributors who value cooperation, coexistence and conscientious living.

It is possible for a family to be all that and live in large home full of things.

It is simply not possible for Tariq and I to sustain a family like that in a large home full of things. Yet.  If there were live in maids and handymen, it would be a completely different story.

I am horrible at multitasking and a total neat freak.

Tariq is mentally incapable of sitting down unless eating or going to the bathroom or downloading a movie on his iPad.

Mathematically speaking...

Big House + Lots of Stuff + (My perfectionism * Tariq's Hyperactivity) =

(WEEKEND OF A MILLION ERRANDS * PICKING THINGS UP OFF THE FLOOR)^INFINITY AND BEYOND.

Every family's values and limitations are different.  Those are ours.

I do often wonder, though, how many people in the world question the major life decisions they make that are seemingly the result of a predetermined natural progression?

In other words, how many people even bother to challenge the whole "grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, buy house, send kids to college, cry sweet tears of joy while singing, 'Free at last, free at last,' retire in Bora Bora, get too senile to care for yourself and move into your son's spare bedroom" thing?

Relaaax, I don't prefer my son or anything, it's just that I can already tell which one of these kids is going to have a sense of humor about our impending senility.

Taking that a step forward, I also wonder how much of our politics, faith and identity are a result of conscientious choices?

For me, somewhere in my late teens, I started emptying out all of the political, social, religious and cultural identities that had been placed in my head.  (Read: fought with my parents and partied A LOT). In subsequent years, I formulated an idea of who I would like to be and slowly reintroduced objective and reconfigured versions of these identities (and whole new ones) back into my life based upon values I'd conscientiously identified.

I can honestly say that who I am today is a reflection of that process.

Okay, like ninety-five percent of the time, I just can't quit you, Jersey Shore, disposable diapers, Diet Coke and David Tutero.

It occurred to me this morning, that I may be taking for granted that everyone does that.

Do they?
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