May 19, 2010


I recently received this email from a really good friend. One I have known for twenty years.

random question: something ive been journaling on lately is How do i derive my sense of of personal worth? i'm having a hard time answering this. i would have hit this answer out of the park at 25, but now i realize those answers would have been blustery and thin and platitudinous--and proffered in the hopes of masking the frightening idea that, at bottom, i really didnt know. How do you derive personal worth?

I have been thinking about this question for a few days and have also had a difficult time answering it, much less knowing where to start and what direction to take, so I will simply jump in and hope that when we reach the end there will be at least a nugget of wisdom or meaning.

The first thing I felt when faced with the question of my personal worth, was an overpowering sense of worthlessness and insignificance. Rather than face my inconsequentiality with dread, I gained a subtle sense of freedom from knowing that no matter how I feel, I don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But if I had to pin my worth down more accurately it would look something like this:

I see my personal worth as a set of ever changing self-righteous platitudes I try to maintain. Sometimes I succeed, but more often a fail. I do my best to stay true to these shifting values and self-imposed expectations. However, I am one of the biggest hypocrites I know. I say love mankind, yet I drive around in this desert seething with an uncontrollable rage. I speak about protecting the earth and animals, yet I produce enough garbage to build my own landfill mountain, and I ignore the cat I have had for seven years.

What I am trying to say is that I try to lead an ethical life, but often find myself mired in guilt and shame, because I fall short. I guess my self worth is derived in the times when the person I am most closely resembles the person I want to be. This is difficult since both versions are constantly in flux. So in no particular order the following are the ways I try to find value in my self, my family and the lives that happen to fall into my orbit:

I want to be the best father I can be. This is my most important job. I want to love, guide, inspire, and ignite a fire in the hearts and minds of my girls. I want to expose them to everything the world has to offer. I want to make them to feel free to take risks and fail.
Truth be told, I want to be the best father I can be to everyone I meet. You can call me by different names: teacher, husband, friend, son, network node, or stranger, but all I want to do is connect and inspire people to take their lives less seriously and enjoy the simple things: a bean plant anchored in a pot of soil, a great song, a camera angle in a film, a passage from a book.

Not sure if this answered your question, but it is as close as I can get at this time. I derive my personal worth by how I see myself in the people around me and how I let them enter me. Guess it could look something like this:

No comments:

Post a Comment