Ah, the eternal question. I'm am a contradiction. I'm an eclectic celebration of a dance! I do Fossey, Fossey, Fossey. I do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham, or Twyla, Twyla, Twyla, or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna, but I keep it all inside...
A friend of mine recently wrote a blog boiling himself down to a rather appropriate synopsis of his various roles. I figure this is a good way to start.
The basics: 33, male, blond hair, blue eyes, 230 lbs. (working on that…sometimes), living in a suburb of Detroit, and currently employed at a music store as a shipping manager and instrument repair technician (among other titles) and at a Blockbuster Video as “Entertainment Specialist” (read: glorified register jockey who’s not afraid to talk to customers at length and/or make a fool of himself publicly).
First and foremost, I am a husband and father. I have been married to my lovely and extremely intelligent wife, Sonya, for 11 years. We have 2 beautiful children, Liam-7 and Courtney-4, who are more beautiful and brilliant than my genetic makeup has any right taking credit for.
Second, I am a 10th level geek. I say that with the utmost pride these days. The things that bring me the greatest joy and relaxation are the things I would have gotten beaten up by jocks for in high school (and sometimes, almost did). Barbershop harmony, Star Trek, old and off-color comedy movies and comedians, sci-fi, comic books, and a knowledge of pop culture well beyond my 33 years. I sing in a barbershop quartet, a barbershop chorus, play the ukulele and trombone (among other instruments I dabble on), own and watch dated and obscure TV shows, collect comics and odd relics of pop culture from my youth (California Raisins figurines, Garbage Pail Kids, odd toys and kitsch from the 80's), and listen to music that is generally averaging somewhere between 20 & 80 years old.
Professionally, I plan to be a high school band and/or choir director. Currently, that plan is stalled while I try and get old tuition bills paid off so I can finish my few remaining classes. Priority-wise, my being an educator weighs equally with my being a musician. I have a good amount of talent, knowledge, and experience when it comes to music, but it's spread rather thin. "Jack of all trades, master of none" comes to mind. I have a good ear and am fairly proficient on the instruments and genres of my choosing, but I have no illusions of ever making a living as a performing musician (by that, I mean having a lucrative career - "jobs" and occasional gigs don't count). I have always enjoyed inspiring others and helping folks become better at what they choose to do, so education is my chosen field. And, of course, I tend to adhere to the old adage, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach". I've always prided myself on being able to explain how to improve at something, rather than demonstrate it. Plus, I’m perfectly happy riding the coattails of someone else’s success and taking pride in my role in it.
All of the aforementioned, however, covers more “what” I am, rather than “WHO” I am. What I am is identified by what I portray and make visible to the outside world. Most of you who know me already knew everything I just relayed. WHO I am has more to do with my thought processes, beliefs, and values. These, I tend to keep close to the vest, as do most, to prevent conflict, observe social decorum – or more often – to avoid rejection in any given situation.
I’m a mainstream, moderate liberal, politically. I believe that the government’s role is to do all it can to provide for its citizenry every opportunity to maintain the highest level of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’m a bit more of an isolationist than I realized, as in today’s political climate, NOT to be an isolationist seems to mean being a party to this administration’s “nation building” efforts. Being the geek I am, I’m a full believer in the “Prime Directive” in that I do not believe we should ever impose our will or belief structure on foreign entities unless invited or requested. Any less implies a conquering empire.
I believe in taking responsibility for one’s own actions; owning up to your mistakes, recognizing your own shortcomings, making amends, and hopefully learning from the experience. People are faulted and make mistakes. To expect any more from them is unfair and unrealistic. Acknowledge one’s own shortcomings and attempting to rectify one’s misdeeds is a sign of true character and intelligence. Case in point: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s response to his mistakes vs. former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer’s to similar allegations.
That being said, I believe, moreover, that one should take responsibility and ownership of one’s own station in life. I often bemoan the status I find myself in. I don’t earn enough, I haven’t finished my degree yet, I wish I had a bigger house, nice car, etc., but the fact is that my own decisions (or lack thereof) have led me to where I am. Yes, unforeseen circumstances can lead one to horrible places and situations, but in the end, how you got there and how you deal with those situations are governed by your own decisions. You have the choice of sitting on your ass and saying, “poor me,” or standing up and doing all you can to change it and better yourself, your posterity, and your situation. That’s not to say I believe in “every man for himself” or Machiavellian means to your own ends. I believe it is every human’s responsibility, should they choose to be a part of the increasingly global society we live in, to try and help and support their fellow humans to the best of their ability, offering doors of opportunity to those in need that those in need must decide to enter themselves.
I believe in God. I question my faith on occasion, not out of despair or frustration – on the contrary, that is often when my faith tends to strengthen – but in moments of overwhelming logical contemplation. I think man needs God. As long as humanity can ask the question “Why?” and not have a definitive answer, humanity will need God.
I think churches – more specifically religious doctrine and organizations – can be extremely detrimental to society and the individual. Just one more group of people in power telling the masses what to think, generally to either maintain their own power and wealth or out of fear of other ways of thinking that they don’t understand. I believe religion to truly be the opiate of the masses. I do not think the concept of divinity is a bad thing. FAITH, however, is different. People without faith are easy led by fear. Fear is a human reaction to the unknown. At the risk of entering into my UberGeek persona again, I quote Yoda: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate…leads to suffering.” Faith eases the fear of the unknown with belief. Faith in people is dangerous, as people are imperfect. Faith in God is safe, as God is perceived to be perfect.
I believe there is an ultimate plan and design for the universe. I believe this to be somewhat separate from religion. My questioning of my faith rarely comes from a lack thereof, but a question of its origin. Does the ultimate plan and subsequent conclusion of the universe derive from a scientific and logical outcome or divine plan? This is my occasional quandary. Being human, I tend toward the idea that God is the architect of the master plan, as the possible combination of variables creating the path toward the end of time is more than science could ever predict. I would rather think a kind, loving, and just God decides my fate and that of the universe, rather than cold, calculated empirical data and formulae. Then there is the concept of cosmic energy and perpetuation of the consciousness via this energy beyond the corporeal being. This becomes an intriguing gray area between God and science. But this rambling diatribe has gone on long enough for now.
Suffice it to say, I don’t know what’s true. That’s part of the human condition. Existentialism is too depressing for my fragile psyche to handle right now, so until I know everything, I’ll stick with my faith in God. He never lets me down. It may sound a trite reason to adhere to a belief structure, but God is love, and love never lets you down. Logical? Perhaps not, but faith isn’t always about logic.
It’s like antihistamine for the brain that clears my mental snot buildup.