A moment of reflection on my life trajectory

Today I watched Engadget’s mini-documentary Citizen Mars, which provides a glimpse into the character of five different Mars One candidates who have made it to the Final 100. Since I’ve finished it, I’ve been thinking about my priorities, my ambitions, and my goals. I’ve been focused on graduate school and my goal of becoming a math and physics teacher for the last few months. My attention has been on the day-to-day because I’ve had so many short-term commitments. I haven’t really thought about the overall direction of my life for a while.

When Mars One first put out the call for candidates to go on a one-way trip to Mars, I applied. Getting to Mars was my ultimate goal. It still is. As I watched the Citizen Mars videos, I realized that I feel just as passionately as those candidates.

Can teaching get me to Mars? Maybe. A true colony will eventually have children, and children need to be educated. What will education look like within a Martian colony?

I still have Ph.D. ambitions. I need to find a critical need of a colony mission and pursue solutions to that need as my graduate work. I need to make myself an obvious and necessary addition to such a mission.

In pursuing teaching now and Mars overall, I’ve chosen to leave behind other ambitions. Robotics and artificial intelligence are now merely hobby interests. My interest in user experience remains that. Even my further study of physics or mathematics has been halted. Yet, I cannot give up my drive towards Mars. I am not yet ready to cede this ambition to something more realistic or pragmatic.

Criteria for a Facebook Response

Someone I respect commented on an article I posted on Facebook. I disagreed with some of his points. He also offered a point of clarification. The conversation I wanted to have was then derailed by my own defensiveness. I let my disagreement with a couple of his points overflow onto his whole post. Reflecting on the conversation, I really wish I had engaged with his points. I could have learned much more and the conversation could have been worth following.

I don’t really know why I responded the way I did. I’ve since apologized to him, after he called me out in the course of the comment thread. It made me realize, though, that I’m not living up to my ideals when it comes to discourse. Many of the conversations that I want to have are happening via Facebook now. And I’ve let myself slip into the same entrenchment that I claim to abhor.

I value argument, discussion, conversation, and learning. It is important to me that my point of view and position on issues are malleable. So, I’m making a change. I’ve decided to create some criteria for responding to posts and comments on Facebook (and other social media).

My criteria for a Facebook response: Continue reading

I Hate Me + bonus poem “Reflection Judges the Man” [updated]

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Everyday I put effort into improving myself. I am always pursuing goals of personal betterment. I seek to make myself smarter, stronger, healthier, wiser, to use my time in more meaningful ways.

My drive to improve comes from a deep-rooted self-loathing. Writing these words is about the most open and honest I have ever been. I cannot remember a time I’ve ever liked myself, and I know I’ve never felt self-love. But I also wonder, do most people feel this way? Are most people fundamentally dissatisfied with themselves, even if it doesn’t descend to self-hatred?

There’s a test I’ve come up with: Look into a large mirror. Look into your own eyes as if they belonged to someone you’ve known your whole life. Now, can you say, with complete conviction, “I love you”?

I can’t. Continue reading