11.27.11

36

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:21 pm by Administrator

we glory in our years;
but really, our fancies
just spoil. i understand now:
He chose not to strive with us.

given lives of nine hundred years,
we’d have less war, perhaps less sorrow.
instead, we embrace violence,
for what remains to be lost?
and we embrace humiliation,
for what remains to be loved?

the crown of my years
just speculation,
i will instead give myself
a history. to fate,
and its feel for fallenness,
my life will affix.

it is fate
to be thus humbled,
at thirty-six.

11.22.11

wins

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:34 pm by Administrator

it’s so much a part of my company’s culture (and corporate culture in general) to count “wins”. there are “quick wins”, there are big wins, there are victories of the personal and public kind; but they are all meant to be understood and counted.

for me, i’ve spent so much of my life ruminating over my failures that i find it difficult to count wins. in fact, i often look at my life and feel bad about how little i’ve accomplished. even the things that i was once encouraged to consider victories—a college entrance, an academic achievement, a step forward in a career path—have come to lose meaning with time. i sometimes fear, as i grow older, that the failures will become clearer and more significant to me, while the successes will grow more and more irrelevant to me.

when i consider this, i’m tempted to think that it’s the “Asian” side of me—the cultural predisposition to deflect attention and to minimize personal standing. but i do not believe this to be the operative construct in this situation. i actually have a difficult time counting wins because i don’t know what comprises a victory. i don’t feel the wins intuitively or emotionally; and so i do not recognize what they are when they happen. to me, this mindset is untenable, and specifically for a leader, this sort of paradigm is unhealthy.

and so i find myself considering and reconsidering the question of wins. what success can i claim? what things have i done that i am proud of? where have i been influential for good?

in my 20s, i tended to look at success as the achievement of inner potential. during that decade of my life, i was perhaps incapable of success, because i looked at success as my total self-realization. my thought life was active and generally optimistic, full of personal dreams and career ambitions. i gave to others because i found the service meaningful and even personally edifying. when i accomplished something, i tended to look at the thing i’d done as a stepping stone to something greater. thus, i was never successful; but i was never unhappy about that. my trajectory was inescapably forward, and i was content to be incomplete in what i felt would be a journey toward inevitable completion.

something changed when i turned 30. i began to tire of myself. i got tired of the same recurrent cycles of aspiration, half-hearted attempt, and self-disappointment. my self-expectations were unrealistic, and even beyond this, they were self-defeating. my own thoughts and reactions began to strike me as futile, and because of this i became dissatisfied with rumination. where i once enjoyed solitude, in my 30s i began to fear solitude and to seek out distraction from my own thoughts. i veritably loathed myself, not because i found myself morally despicable (though i did observe this) but rather because i was terrible company for myself. i’ve described hell as an eternity living as oneself, and i believe this because i feel i have experienced hell. hell is my isolated self-existence; my experience of depression has pointed to an idea of Heaven in which i cease to exist as an individuated entity. the idea of becoming incorporated into something transcendent is for me the essence of my spirituality.

i give nowadays because the giving, the act of “being poured out”, separates me from what i was, and it affords me identity based in the person or people to whom i am being given. my pastor has preached that those of faith give of themselves not primarily because of charity but rather because of the driving force of identity. i give out of desperation; i serve, whether in work, in church, or in my family, out of an insatiable need to be defined by the giving. in many respects, i have decided that i must interrupt the delineation of my form by bleeding through it and out of it; it is the only way for me to be free of the cruel self-idolatry that necessarily follows from self-construction.

in a sense, this change i have undergone is my win. every time that i see myself giving above and beyond what i might have considered giving in my youth, i am winning. increasingly, i am forcing myself to consider that every relationship in my life must be a win for me; and if any single relationship in my life is not echoing the joy of self-submission and rebirth, then it will invariably become a vessel for death. i am struck, then, that i have many wins. even now, i can see the faces of the people to whom i have submitted myself and the heart with which i gave myself to them. to go a step further, i can see the fruit that came out of some of these interactions. but i feel no need to delineate with exactness the character of these relationships or this fruit. i am restrained from it, and it is impossible for me to do it, because i can no longer see where i end and where others might begin. in a sense, the win lies in the fact that i cannot define my wins in precise terms. i cannot say for certain what significance or effect i have had, and in fact it doesn’t matter. and because it doesn’t matter, i know i have changed.

i still carry within me such scorn for the world i live in—an intellectual dissonance so to speak with the lexicon of personal worth and salvation that this society is so rooted within. its ideas of success and failure nearly destroyed me, and in fact the distinct sense of failure that these ideas helped to engender perhaps enabled me to experience spiritual rebirth of a kind. but while i once defined myself by my ability to resist conformity, now i so hunger to be absorbed in others. perhaps it is like Steven Covey suggests—that one must first be independent from others before he can discover utter interdependence with others. i had to discover myself, the fragile and defeated thing, before i could give myself away. i had to experience defeat, the most profound of all defeats, before i could enjoy a single victory. i had to eschew every semblance of achievement and significance before i could feel the simple dignity of having been created and purposed by God. life is an inside-out journey; you begin this path taking from the outside to mold what is inside, but you end this path by giving up everything within so as to become unified with what is without. the consummate other is God, and the thing that i was is just the road i step upon in His direction.

11.14.11

my prime

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:03 pm by Administrator

i don’t write much nowadays. i don’t write much because i don’t feel the need to process much, at least in the meditative, personal sort of way. i’m not processing because i’m being realized; and in this way, i’ve finally made it. i’ve reached my prime.

it’s not to say that i don’t break down, or that i am not compelled to contend with myself. i break at the seams. at least once every couple of weeks, there is for me a moment when i am consumed with anger; i’ll deliver private monologues of pure profanity; i’ll throw things in my office, or i’ll work myself into a frenzy during a routine housecleaning. but i see those moments as a functional necessity; i move through them, and i see through to the thing that most disturbs me. i recommit myself to living, as one who must become his enemy through and through in order to conquer him. all the while, i recognize through this cycle of frustration and release that things are getting done—things of importance to the people who are depending on me.

i am being poured out. i still wish, in the perpetual and inestimable sense of wishing, to be whole and to be pleased. but what i am is just a form, and i am convinced that the thing within me is meant to outgrow this form, to break free from its constraints, and to transcend what i am. i will die; and even before that death, i am dying. there is no tragedy in this. to me, hell is to live forever as oneself. i have begun to recognize a miracle in the life consumed by fire; to live and breathe in the shadow of something greater than myself gives me courage to face myself, the burning form, the immolated man.

there is no burn-out for me, not as long as there is something of me left to feed the fire. i submit myself to you, oh God, this selfish mind, this self-absorbed soul, this lustful flesh, this ambition for glory. breathe in my ash, and stir up my settling dust. i am alive in your breathing and in your movements; like wind billowing through clouds, let your fingers shape me for your world

11.07.11

Pop news: 3 things boring, 3 things intriguing

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:10 pm by Administrator

highlighting my disconnection from mainstream life, i feel more and more baffled by the attention that internet news is devoting to 3 things nowadays.

1. Tim Tebow: He’s receiving attention disproportionate to his significance as a football player. much of the controversy surrounding Tebow seems to be about his image—as a demonstratively religious player. Tebow has his ardent fans and his vicious haters. at first, the contrast between the camps was intriguing; now it’s a very tired story. a professional football player in his early 20s can’t have accomplished enough one way or the other to be that big of a deal. i say, let the guy play; he’s a winner. as for his outward religion, who really cares? America has enough poster-children for Evangelical Christianity, and trying to figure out whether or not any particular guy is for real is a pointless venture.

2. Lindsay Lohan: is she in jail or not? is she getting into trouble or getting out of it? i don’t care! i don’t care at all! the one thing i’ll say is that i find her largely irrelevant outside of her legal troubles.

3. Michael Jackson’s doctor: there always has to be someone to blame. i hate big-time litigation, and i hate the culture it represents. this story is not only blown out of proportion but also reeks of sensationalism, and i think this sort of thing needs to be settled quietly without disturbing the public peace.

And yet, I find myself surprisingly intrigued by three other stories that won’t go away.

1. Ravens and Steelers: The rivalry between the Ravens and Steelers is starting to pick up steam in the news, and yesterday’s big win for the Ravens is a big story today. i like the hype over what this win means. the Steelers have had the Ravens’ number for so many years, and the recent history of gut-wrenching losses does seem to be history now that the Ravens have swept the season series. Flacco’s game-winning 4th quarter drive with a minute left was a defining moment for his career, and the game was punctuated by a hard hit by Ray Lewis on the game’s ugliest player Hines Ward. the game wasn’t just a win for the Ravens; it was a win for the good guys.

2. NBA Lockout: The story just gets more and more interesting, as the individual personalities reveal themselves. Jordan, for instance, is showing his teeth, as one of the hard-line owners who is unwilling to bargain with the players; Nick Young is now refusing to wear Jordans; Stern is setting a Wednesday deadline for a “last chance” deal; and poor Derek Fisher is looking victimized by just about everyone in the process. there are bad guys on both sides of this conflict, and as a drama it just looks so compelling.

3. Amanda Knox: The Amanda Knox story to me just gets more and more fascinating with time. To me, she started this journey as an immature, guilty-looking girl, and she has come through this experience still looking like an immature, guilty-looking girl. However, there have been points at which she has shown both vulnerability and assertiveness, and I wonder what, in the end, this perpetual celebrity and imminent multi-millionaire will take away with her from the whole ordeal.

11.04.11

audience

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:30 pm by Administrator

he feels the drama of it,
and he’s delivering the soliloquy
loudly and overwrought,

at least to me.
this last act should be subtle
and bespeak real solitude,

not like a stage show of amateurs
consumed with themselves, playing
to the people

as if words are to be performed
instead of simply surrendered
from within.

he’s dying to an audience,
and those in attendance must agree
that it’s ingracious

and though i’ve known him
my whole life, and though i can imagine
that i too will have this moment,

this terrible moment,
this pause beneath paralyzing lights,
still, he has lines.

play the part.
finish the act.
end the play.