Saturday, January 10, 2009


In recent weeks I've made two interesting discoveries about myself, which may be related.

#1. I'm not very self-reflective. I don't often look back at my day and think about how it went. I rarely consider the current state of my life in any aspect of me (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional). Part of this may be that I'm not very good at understanding myself.

As I was growing up until I left home for college, my mom would occasionally ask me quite seriously, "Matt, is there something going on? You don't seem alright. Is there something wrong?"
I would respond honestly, "No, Mom, I don't know what you're talking about. There's nothing wrong."
A few days later I would break down into an emotional mess. Turns out there was something wrong. I was feeling bad about one thing or another, but I just didn't realize it yet. Somehow Mom could see it in my before I could.

#2. I make most of my decisions on pure intuition. I rarely think about why I'm making the choices I make. This may tie in to the first in my reluctance or inability to observe my own motivations.

The interesting behavior I've observed in myself about this is how I then answer why questions. When someone asks me why I made a certain choice (like, "Why do you want to teach calculus in a city school?" or "Why did you go to Egypt?") I occasionally answer with some version of [idk], but most of the time I give an answer. In the 15 seconds between question and answer I find some justification for my decision that seems plausible, and from that time forward, that answer becomes my reason. Was it my actual motivation? Maybe. Since it was one of the the first things to come to mind it probably was. But maybe not. It's hard to say, because I never actually considered why I made the choice until the question was posed.

Now, I run into trouble when I'm faced with a decision that has strong emotional implications. Because then I'm not sure if I can trust my intuition. These are the hardest kind for me. My most recent highly-emotional decision-making process involved a lot of prayer and council and scripture, which was all necessary and appropriate.
But it seems like those things should be necessary for other big decisions, like where I should live next year. If you've been following my Becoming a New Monastic series you know what that's about. Today we made the final decision to move to Detroit. Now there was certainly prayer and council involved in that decision, but not nearly as much. For me, I decided to go to Detroit the same way I decided to come to RIT. I visited, and somehow, intuitively, it felt right.

A paradoxical post indeed.

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