Monday, July 10, 2006

I am sitting outside in the cool evening air, reading Dorothy Day's biography. It is easy (and instructive) to while away the time reading the great books. But what I was hoping for from today was some insights, some profound discoveries about my life's direction. A few came up, but nothing earth-shattering.

One was a refinement of part of my mission statement--from "Engineering beautiful software" to "Engineering beautiful software that people find useful", which carries more meaning for me.

Another was the realization that I need to incorporate into my worldview the importance of reliance on God. I rely on my own strength whenever I embark on any project, and this is as it should be. But to pray for success, to cry out in prayer in the face of large obstacles, and to have "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change"--these practices would result in a lot less stress. Then again, perhaps a little stress is inevitable, perhaps even necessary, in any creative endeavour. Just to know then that I am not facing my trials alone--this is a great comfort.

I don't know...I am searching for something, some take-home insight for the day (well, evening by now), and writing out my thoughts in the hope of unearthing it.

The TV blares downstairs--I need to find a quieter spot, but outside the mosquitoes are buzzing. I retreat to the interior of the parked car.

My threefold mission statement is activity-based rather than results-based. It's more of a heuristic for living rather than a vision for the future. Hmm. I wonder what a more goal-based mission statement would look like...

What is my point B (in three years, say)? What do I want from life?

I suppose the threefold mission statement holds up well to these questions: To know that I engineered some beautifully designed software that at least a few people found useful. To know that I cherished my family often--that "wasteful" quality time of a phone call or a shared meal. And to have experienced many moments of playing the benefactor in some random act of kindness. A life full of these specific joyful experiences--that would be for me a life well lived.

So that for now is how I am going to live this life. For me it will not be a long process of achieving a specific future goal, but aiming for three specific types of experiences that are achievable on a daily basis. It's more like the Japanese concept of kaizen (continuous improvement) than Big Up-Front Design.

Phew. That was a useful exercise. Now back to Dorothy Day...


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