"Don't We All?"

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May 12 - 16, 2006 F - T #

"Don't We All?"

(If you’re a first time visitor, this post isn’t typical... but then again, how much of life is typical?)

Do you ever experience those moments that settle an attraction into you for someone in a way that leaves you... in love? I’ve had several of these moments, in very significant ways (to me) over my last eight weeks in LA. Several of these instances and thoughts finally converged such that I could understand and write them. I wrote this for my own understanding, but choose to post it because... other people sometimes think it’s interesting and useful (not to mention entertaining).

Five very significant girls in the last two months.
(More actually, but five in particular referenced herein.)
(No, I’m not a pimp or player... the last two months just happened like this.)

A few concepts are integrated into the flow of these stories where they become relevant. For the sake of your organizational predictability, here is the sequential progression, followed by the primary concepts.

I start with Nicky this last weekend, which leads back to Jessica at the beginning of the last two months, and then continue in a (mostly) chronological pattern through Sarasvati (fictitiously named), Risela, Kali (also fictitiously named), and back up to this last weekend with Nicky again. Then I wrap it all up with some concept analysis and comparisons.

General Outline of Principles:
1. As individuals, we experience love in three different forms:
     a: We “love” people for the qualities we perceive them to personify.
     b: We “fall in love”, not with a person, but with a perceived life for ourselves (which life is perceived to be enabled by our interaction with a particular person).
     c: We experience “being in love” while living in momentary appreciation of the individual with whom we are interacting.
     The second of these, on “falling in love with a perceived life,” is the new element to me.)
2. Each individual experiences these forms of love according to their capacity / inclination for awareness, projection, and engagement (respective with a, b, and c).
3. Each individual desires (needs) these different forms of love in their relationships according to their natural inclination for stability, excitement, engagement, understanding (lots of stuff)... according to what they want to experience in life.
4. Different combinations of couples enable each individual in the relationship to experience these forms of love according to their combined interactive dynamics.
5. Significant Side Note: The personal fulfillment girls experience in being a Mom is highly underrated. (This realization is highly important, and relevant to this process, but is a separate topic).

Preliminary Statements:
     - The love I’m speaking about isn’t that poetic, Hollywood style, deep bonding, I-can’t-breathe-without-you, love... it’s the much more ordinary and normal feeling of love that people experience on a regular basis... At least, it’s the feeling I frequently experience, and love is the most appropriate word to use for it.
     - I don’t submit this for argument or to claim these are the end-all fundamental psychological operating principles. Just try it out for yourself, and see if it helps you understand what you experience in attraction, love, etc.
     - Regarding my semantics... I’m aware of a couple places where my word usage isn’t entirely consistent... particularly using “falling in love”. Deal with it. I don’t want to take the time to find the most accurate wording (it’s harder than you think... especially to do it without sounding like an attorney of psychology). The context should be sufficient for the words to carry their intended meaning.

Warning: I’m going to be very candid here.
(For those who know me, it’ll be fitting for a very good series of laughs.)

This last weekend I went to ISDC (International Space Development Conference) held here in LA this year. I was interested to hear some of the people speak, but mostly I just wanted to see several people I haven’t seen in a while. I got exactly what I wanted, and met several other people I hadn’t counted on.

Pink is a wonderful color. It makes girls look confidently feminine like no other color can. Especially when combined with a sleek black dress, heels, and a semi-crazy but sophisticated hair cut. I’ve known I would be leaving LA less than two weeks after the space conference, so I wasn’t on the prowl for a girl, but I couldn’t help but take notice of a certain girl sporting this beautifully feminine motif (I don’t think I’m ever on the prowl... but some girls just stand out). Several hours later I headed upstairs to the booth of the organization this pink icon was with, and was (for real) inquiring if a friend I was hoping to see was at the conference that day. My friend in question was in Florida running a Zero-G flight, but Nicky was as cool as she was beautiful, so we ended up talking... for the next several hours.

It turns out Nicky spent last year flying with stunt pilots on the air show circuit, and is now earning her Masters in Spacecraft Design at USC, while working part time for the X Prize. Really casual and up beat, while openly annoyed with stupid people and stupid decisions. A good candid personality combination that’s easy to trust and makes life entertaining.

The question of “what do you want from life” became one of the conversation themes, so after going back and forth with more general and career related things, I opened up the thing I want from life that has been on my mind the last couple months.

“I want to have a family. [pause]. I want a family.”

I wasn’t sure what results would come of delivering that kind of a line, so I was looking down when I said it. When I looked up to her eyes, I was met with a smile that is still in my mind. It was like a smile of unexpected appreciation for a generosity offered that nobody could have known was needed. After a moment with that soft smile, she kindly replied “Don’t we all?”

(Savor this moment for a bit before moving on. Brown eyes, thin features, semi-crazy blond hair, perfect lighting, and a smile that is the epitome of gentle sincerity.)

“Don’t we all?”

(Ok. Leaving that moment, and dropping into the stories.)

Between Nicky and I, her response was entirely appropriate. Unfortunately, in a larger context the response to the prospect of being a Mom is far too often a resigned “I guess... when it comes time for a family. I just don’t see how it’s going to fit.” As best as I can tell, these girls have no idea how much they’re going to love their kids. I had no idea how much my Mom loved my brothers and I until I met Jessica two months ago (a young single Mom), and recognized how much she loves her two little girls. You can’t write about that kind of love, or even talk about it. Somehow you recognize it one day, and then it makes sense.

Ironically, I met Jessica in the mosh pit at an Unwritten Law concert. Near the end of the concert, I gave Jessica and her sister a ride to the hospital so her sister could get 11 stitches in her eye. That’s when Jessica asked me to call her later. It’s far from my style to pick up girls at concerts (and Jessica never gives out her real number), but several indicators in her demeanor throughout the evening triggered my recognition of traits I really value. I was surprised at how much I was able to read of her in so short a time (and later surprised to discover how much I read correctly). I didn’t intend to start thinking about her, but it was 5:30am the next morning before my mind stopped running circles and I could go to sleep. I called her the next day.

Unwritten Law – Elva: One of the all time great rock and roll albums.
Up All Night (very fitting to Jessica’s taste in music)
Rest of My Life

*I moved a whole section on being a Mom to the end of this post... because it’s important, but doesn’t fit here in the flow. It’s more of a stand alone piece.

Ok. Stepping into the Attraction Dynamics. This is really good... and I think it will be tremendously valuable to many people who don’t fully understand their attraction patterns. I believe this is universally applicable. The novel idea (to my thinking) is the second principle about “falling in love with a perceived life for ourselves”. The other two are here for context.

As individuals:
     - We “love” people for the qualities we perceive them to personify.
     - We “fall in love”, not with a person, but with a perceived life for ourselves (which life is perceived to be enabled by our interaction with a particular person).
     - We experience “being in love” while living in momentary appreciation of the individual with whom we are interacting.

Jessica enters the scene two months ago, and for the first time in several years, I find myself a victim of the whole “falling” in love thing. I’ve “been in love” with many girls, but I’ve always referred to it as “stepping” into love. It was (almost) always a voluntary thing, and it was always fun being in love when I chose, but I seldom thought I was being absolutely ridiculously stupid in whatever “in love” thing was happening. But when 5:30 am rolled around the morning after I met Jessica, and I had spent all night pacing the floor because my mind was racing, it seemed quite obvious that something beyond my conscious will was taking place. This wasn’t me voluntarily “stepping” into love; it was an unexpected and uncontrolled “fall”. That was surprise number 1.

Jessica being back in school full time, with two little girls, and an inconvenient 66 miles between us, I couldn’t see her much so we spent several hours on the phone late at night that week. When I got to see her that Friday night, and meet her two little girls, there was a moment when I felt that sunshine effect in my heart (one of my most favorite feelings ever) to a magnitude I didn’t think was possible anymore. Huge surprise number 2.

It was later that night that I recognized her connection to her girls, which caused a whole paradigm shift in my perception of my parents and the life I may experience. Even larger surprise number 3 (which may prove to be one of the most influential realizations of my life).

Looking back, I see that more than falling in love with Jessica, I was falling in love with the scenario of having a family in the way Jessica wants to raise her family. Talking recently with another single Mom at work, she has seen guys do this same thing with her. The guy is ready to jump right in and pick up being a Dad, but she knows the repercussions if it doesn’t work, so she’s more cautious. I wouldn’t say I was ready to jump in, but I was definitely evaluating those future scenarios. Some would say that at 28 I’m young to have a family, or to even want a family. Well, that’s where I have seen my desires going. As different as our present lives are, I was surprised at how much Jessica and I see eye to eye on so many aspects of life and living.

We both knew I would be leaving in two months... but life doesn’t always happen according to design. I wouldn’t have guessed anything in this setup with Jessica would have had the effect it did, but to me, it reinforces my belief that our desires are always present in our minds, whether we’re conscious of them or not. Everything I was attracted to in Jessica, and the perceived possible life with Jessica which I began falling in love with, makes sense in hindsight, but I would never have guessed it up front. Our minds have the power to recognize our desires and react (and to recognize our fears and react), whether we consciously carry those same recognitions or not. When it comes to love (more generally, desire and fear), you cannot get around your intrinsic desires and perceptions of reality. This doesn’t mean your intrinsic desires are healthy, or your intuitive recognition is correct, but those forces are at play within everyone and they are not consciously controlled. It was these intrinsic desires combined with my intuitive recognition that sent me into the mind spin that left me “falling in love” when I least expected it.

I saw Jessica again that next weekend, made plans for future weekends, and then I split to Boston for the MIT LFM ’08 Open House.

Now we introduce the first of two girls who are starting at MIT with me in two weeks, each from down here in LA. Since I think they don’t know that I might blog them, we’ll call them Sarasvati (Hindu white skinned goddess of music, dance, science and learning) and Kali (Hindu goddess of liberation (liberation from ego)).

I first saw Sarasvati’s eyes during the LFM Open House introduction, one row in front and three seats to the left, as she repeatedly turned around to look at me. Beautiful, confident, and possibly attracted to my dashing good looks. As Thursday and Friday progress, I find this girl is 100% pure made in America fun (umm... I like that... a lot!!!). Returning from the Open House weekend, of course I’m attracted, and probable future scenarios involving Sarasvati easily began developing in my mind. Much to my dismay, the falling in love process (on my side) had already started. (It’s just not cool to become infatuated with someone after two days when you’ll be interacting in school for the next two years... I was embarrassed with myself). I was still just getting to know Jessica in LA, and then started falling in love with this new girl... I started to wonder if I’m a flighty-meat-head-louse.

I returned to California, Jessica and I hadn’t talked since the last time I saw her (a week is a long time after talking almost daily), and by that next weekend I was getting the impression that she needed time to herself, and may just need me out of the picture entirely. She has to do what’s best for her, so I left the door open, but gave her the space. Somehow, I wasn’t heartbroken at all; just appreciative. (I still haven’t talked with her again, and I really, really, want to. We’ll see what happens.)

My plans with Jessica for that weekend obviously fell through (Easter weekend with her family), so I went to Knott’s Berry Farm with a friend whose boyfriend called or texted her every 20 minutes the whole evening. She thought it was cute, and I got several good laughs from it. It was our first time hanging out on our own, so we were able to talk through several aspects of her life and relationships.

That next week, Risela and I met again on Yuri’s Night, April 12, at the Mt Wilson Observatory (where they have a 60” telescope built in 1904, and a 100” telescope (the size of Hubble... huge) built around 1916, having hauled equipment up the mountain with donkeys... and they’re still some of the best astronomical tools on the planet!) That weekend Risela and I spent all Saturday day and evening together, and again Sunday evening, and became good friends. Her experiences from life and our interaction gave me more stuff to shuffle into everything I was already sorting into understanding. Among other things, she exemplified that true “falling in love” must be a two way thing. If it only happens on one side, it’s only a dream. However, within this post, I’m speaking of the “falling in love” experience that occurs in an individual context, regardless of the experience the other person is having. So, in this context, one-way falling in love is considered falling in love.

I got to see Sarasvati (fun MIT girl) a couple more times during that same weekend when Risela and I became good friends, and again the next Tuesday. Having my mind occupied with my recent weekends with two other girls, still processing the paradigm shift Jessica introduced to my world view, and being able to interact with Sarasvati on an almost regular basis, I had several opportunities to learn more of who she is in reality, which is the most effective means for enabling realistic projections of future interaction, thus diminishing the potential for inadvertent one sided falling in love, which is “only a dream” (as Risela illustrated) derived from incomplete understanding of the interactive dynamics with another individual. The ridiculous “falling in love” thing that started at the Open House was able to subside into something much more reasonable. I won’t lie, the attraction thing is still very much there, but it’s at a reasonable level for what I would expect given our interaction to this point. By developing a more realistic perception of Sarasvati, I was able to step out of the initial “fall” induced by my inferential perception of her.

I spent that next Friday night with a couple other LFM’ers including Sarasvati before she left LA, during which I met Kali (who couldn’t make it to the LFM Open House). Kali and I followed that evening with a good personal lunch on Sunday. Kali is noticeably more reserved and observant, and not as... spontaneous, but still up for a good time. ISDC (and Nicky, the girl in pink who I started this post with and will get back to in a moment) happen the next weekend (including starting to fall in love with Nicki), and then Kali and I took a fun drive through the Angeles Crest Mountains that last Tuesday evening. It’s starting to sound repetitive, but she is likewise one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever met. As far as I can tell, her mind functions on many of the same operational principles as my mind (poor girl), except for one fundamental difference which makes the manifestations of our personalities very different. Kali pays closer attention to her thoughts and her present objectives, enabling her to be more responsible. I pay closer attention to the moment and to possible opportunities, enabling me to have more fun. She very seldom finds herself being lost in the moment, and I very seldom find myself preparing (logistically) for the future. We decided we’re going to be best friends out in Boston.

So... Kali. Beautiful girl, natural friendship, zero falling in love. What’s up with that? (Especially after I unexpectedly found myself “falling in love” with three different girls over the previous seven weeks). We’ve talked a lot about our backgrounds, experiences, character, interests, general analysis of lots of stuff... and got her lost in a few moments whenever I could find a good opportunity (No, not affectionate moments... getting her to enjoy the mountains type moments). We haven’t spent much time at all talking about our anticipated futures. Kali has a vague concept of the life she wants to live, but it isn’t any more developed than a feeling of success and importance involving international commerce. She performs very well in her present conditions, but doesn’t want to set herself up for disappointment in the future. Furthermore, she very seldom lets herself get lost in the moment. There wasn’t any common ground upon which future scenarios, or a future life with Kali, could easily be projected. I started developing a love (or an appreciation) for her, but there was no future for any “falling in love” to build from.

Now returning back to Nicky from the space conference.

Nicky and I got to talking about all kinds of stuff for several hours on Saturday at the conference, and then during a party afterwards. I naturally have projections of the life I would like to live into, and she likewise has generated aspects of the future she wants to be living into. (Including building airplanes with her kids... how cool is a girl who wants to build airplanes with her kids?) Furthermore, our present interests are also very closely aligned. Our conversation included both our present lives and futures, and we have certain common ground in both (Except for my present life relocating to Boston). We made brief phone calls on Sunday and Monday, but just about things like her rocking her Spacecraft Design final. Both the “being in love” and “falling in love” things were happening Saturday, and continued without missing a beat on Wednesday. (I love a good first kiss... and this progression with Nicky was among the best.)

The disappointing thing with brief opportunities in love is you can’t easily escape your perception of reality. Wednesday evening went well, but by the time we saw each other on Sunday (our plans for Friday and Saturday got scrubbed by... circumstances), we both knew that it wouldn’t be a continuation of Wednesday. We learned what we needed to learn of each other, and being any more involved with each other wouldn’t be real. The chemistry is still there, and that probably won’t go away anytime soon, but there is no potential for a relationship anywhere on the horizon. So, our characters combine such that we have the capacity for being in love, falling in love, and loving each other, but there is this big gap with no bridge between now and the future that we could fall in love with.

Of course it’s obviously very early in the game to be drawing such far reaching conclusions, but the point is illustrated given the short span of time available. To be entirely honest, we have differences in character and background that may not mesh so well, but you can’t know until you try. As for her, it seems that I’ve been a brief catalyst for her to transition to another phase in life. It turns out I’m the first guy she’s even wanted to kiss since six months ago when she broke up with her boyfriend of four years, who “broke [her] heart into lots of little itty bitty pieces.” Sometimes brief relationships are for very brief purposes, and then they’ve lived their time and we can gracefully and gratefully let them go.

Comparisons and Analysis:

We each have a unique capacity for experiencing love in these different manifestations (being in love, falling in love, and loving), and we experience these aspects according to the natural inclination of our minds. We experience “being in love” according to our inclination for being in the moment. We experience “falling in love” according to our inclination for projecting future scenarios. We “love” another individual according to our inclination for stable awareness of the individual.

My mind is very inclined to projecting and evaluating future scenarios. This makes it natural and easy for me to fall in love with someone new, and also to transition to friendship if / when we see that a long term relationship isn’t going to happen. It is natural for me to build new future scenarios.

Sarasvati (the fun girl) is very present in the moment she is living. Her mind is naturally drawn to what she is doing right here and now, which makes it easy for her to “be in love” with many people. She’s just having fun, and I would imagine she often finds herself in the position of Brittany Spears’s “Oops I did it again” song when yet another guy falls in love with her. “Being in love” (though she probably doesn’t use that term) is very natural for her.

Kali (the responsible girl) is naturally removed from the moment, and she is cautious about building future scenarios. She is neither inclined toward “being in love,” nor “falling in love.” However, she is naturally inclined toward loving others Once involved with a person, Kali is steady and predictable, and she values the stability that comes from being in a relationship.

As for Jessica (with two little girls) She is naturally inclined toward “being in love,” but she’s a thinker, and I didn’t get much of a view into how her mind operates. Her desires and characteristics are very similar to mine, but I don’t know how she got there. She is clearly inclined toward loving another. If she is inclined toward falling in love, she has learned to guard herself against it. However, the thought she takes for the future appears to be responsibility driven, instead of the natural inclination of her thoughts. She’s too difficult to read to project much more.

Nicky is aware of the future she wants, and she is ready to recognize opportunities that will enable her to live that future. She is very capable of “falling in love.” She is momentarily aware, and thereby easily able to “be in love”, but if the immediate scenario she is experiencing is not leading to the future she wants, she can no longer “be in love.” Nicky is likewise more aware of other people than many I have run into. She doesn’t analyze others, but she appreciates them. She doesn’t use the word love, but in the context of use here, she easily loves her friends.

* * *

When you find yourself “falling in love” with someone, if you observe your thought process I would wager that it is actually a perceived experience of life that you are contemplating, which life is enabled by the individual with whom you think you are falling in love.

Falling in love happens naturally and progressively, but it can only happen in the context of each individual’s manner of envisioning a common future with the other... a future which each individual can fall in love with. A guy and girl won’t “fall in love” with a shared life together unless they somehow develop a favorable vision of what their shared life can be. (Referring this same principle to the following section on motherhood... A girl won’t fall in love with life as a Mom if she does not understand the fulfilling reality of that life, beyond just the work and commitment necessary.)

It is very possible (and very common in young relationships) that two people fall in love with each other “for different reasons.” They each fall in love with a life they envision with the other person, but each of them envision a life different than what the other is envisioning. For any sort of falling in love to last with a couple, they need a certain level of cohesion, or at least compatibility, between the future lives they are falling in love with. They certainly won’t fall in love with the same life (they’re two people living different lives), but the lives they fall in love with need to be compatible. For example, I won’t fall in love with the life of building an airplane with my kids (too much time commitment to learning and creating things that don’t coincide with what I want to spend my time creating), but I easily fall in love with the idea of my wife building airplanes with our kids (a super constructive and fun project, and I can play a supporting role). Nicky and I would fall in love with different aspects of that life, but those dreams closely coincide, running parallel. As for joint dreams to fall in love with, my brother Greg and his wife Erica will soon leave for a month long trip including hiking to the base camp of Mt Everest. They both fell in love with that exact same dream. They fell in love with living their lives with each other because they recognized that both of them enjoy taking those kinds of trips. With such similar interests, it will be easy for them to continue falling in love with near term dreams throughout their lives together, helping to maintain a healthy, rounded, and fulfilling relationship.

A guy and girl won’t “be in love” with each other unless they take time to live moments together. If a couple stops taking moments to be absorbed in life with each other, the aspect of being in love has no opportunity to come forth. They may continue loving each other, and continue falling in love with their future together, but the moments of being in love won’t be in the mix. Greg and Erica’s trip to Mt Everest will be a long series of moments for being in love. Sometimes, even the stupid mundane things of life can become opportunities that a couple accidentally finds themselves being in love (but I wouldn’t rely on those being sufficient). I personally like dancing, walking together, traveling... lots of stuff.

“Loving” each other takes knowing and understanding each other, being aware of each others lives. A couple needs moments together and a future together, but there must be substantive communication, sharing, and understanding of each others lives. A guy who ceases to carry an understanding of the life his wife is living (either in career or as a Mom) will eventually loose that stabilizing love he carries for her. Likewise, if a girl becomes too detached from her husbands life in his career, she’ll loose the connection that she feels to him.

Each of these aspects of love carries mutually reinforcing dynamics to develop and sustain the other aspects of love. It is often through “being in love” that we develop the understanding and appreciation necessary for an “enduring love” for another. It is through “falling in love” that we gain the desire to generate future opportunities for being in love. Having an “enduring love” for another helps enable us to feel free enough in their presence that we can “be in love” with them, and also allows us to have confidence in them such that we can “fall in love” with a life including their presence.

It seems that every individual has a need for different balances of these aspects of love in a relationship. Sarasvati will clearly need a very large balance of being in love. Nicky will need to continue falling in love. Jessica will need a moderate stream of occasions for being in love, but will need a larger proportion of understanding to love on a more steady basis. Kali needs someone who can occasionally pull her into the moment enough that she can experience being in love (but overall I think she’ll need very little in the whole love category... I’ll have to get to know her better).

Thus far, we have focused only on the individual’s experience of what they personally want from the relationship (they want moments of being in love, to fall in love with a future, or to carry a stabilizing love for the other). We haven’t touched on the aspect of “being loved” by the other... that sense of love they get from the other person being in love with them, caring about them, being committed to them, or whatever. It’s not coincidence that I haven’t mentioned “being loved”. All that stuff regarding the other individual’s feelings for you all gets wrapped up in what the individual wants in a relationship. Moments of “being in love” obviously are enabled by the other person reciprocating some degree of love such that the individual feels the moment is sincerely and genuinely a moment of “being in love.” Mutual understanding is necessary for two people to really understand and connect with each other in their lives in general. And as for falling in love, they won’t fall in love with a perceived life which includes a distant or unfulfilling partner. If an individual in a relationship feels they are not sufficiently “loved by the other”, it is because they are not experiencing love in these three manifestations to the extent they desire. It’s not resultant from what the other person actually feels for the person, it’s resultant from them lacking fulfillment in any particular aspect (or multiple aspects) of being in love, falling in love, or loving the other. More explanation could fit here, but I’ll let this be sufficient for now.

We haven’t addressed how these dynamics can play into people getting involved in, and staying in unhealthy relationships. I don’t feel like writing about that now, and it seems like it should be blatantly obvious how unhealthy attachments arise when people experience love according to these three expressions (i.e. falling in love with a life with somebody that will never exist because of that persons character... and not recognizing the discrepancy between what they’ve fallen in love with and who they’re connecting their life to). Ok. Enough for now.

In summary:

We “fall in love” with living. We experience “being in love” while living. To “love” is a natural valuation behavior of living consciousness.

Falling in love, being in love, and loving, are healthy and productive. We should not avoid these forms of love... actually, we should seek them out, because that is what being alive is all about. (I also finally saw The Fifth Element a month or so ago, and coincidentally this is exactly what the message of that movie was about. “Water flows, Wind blows, Fire burns, (whatever Earth does), and Life loves.” Cheesy, but accurate.)

It just occurred to me that each of these aspects of love are associated with our relative time frame: past (love), future (falling in love), and present (being in love). They also relate with our modes of action according to the accompanying time frames: learned expectations from past experience (love), hope / desire for the future (falling in love), and action in the present (being in love).

Side Note 1:
Another useful tid-bit I got from Cheney (climbing friend) a few weeks before this last two months.
There are five chemistries in relationships:
Physical Chemistry
Emotional Chemistry
Financial Chemistry
Spiritual Chemistry
Intellectual Chemistry
(I think there should be a sixth Social Chemistry as well... but whatever.)

Side Note 2:
For the record... “Being in love” is the act of living / experiencing life with the fullness of your consciousness. We often associate it with another individual, but there is the comparison of being in love with an activity, project, work, sport, art, music, etc. The essence of “being” in love is to be fully engaged in enjoying the moment wherein you are living. This is the experience symbolically portrayed by “The Angel of Music” in the Phantom of the Opera. Being in love with a person is to be fully enraptured in their presence, or rather, the presence of the two of you together. “Being in love” with an activity / project / job, is to be fully absorbed, fully conscious and aware, or to be “In The Zone” (Again, Brittany Spears... it really makes me laugh that this song actually exemplifies the message intended in this context). This same comparison holds for “falling in love” with a career, goal, accomplishment, etc. I think people often fall in love with the idea of becoming a big chief executive, being an influential political or social activist, or other life committing endeavors, without ever understanding the reality of such a life. They fall in love with their inaccurate perception of that life, much like falling in love with an inaccurate perception of life with another individual. Just as “falling in love” with an inaccurately perceived person can hold people in unhealthy relationships, so can falling in love with an inaccurately perceived career hold people on ill fitted career paths. To keep our relationships and careers healthy (the two largest aspects of our lives), we must continually check that the life we have fallen in love with is feasible given the people we are, and the conditions we are living into. This references my personal life in my recent decision to bend my technical pursuits toward Networked Autonomous Systems instead of Systems Engineering Architecture as it applies to Spacecraft Integration and Test.

The Fulfillment in Being a Mother is Highly Underrated

Through getting to know Jessica and recognizing her connection to her girls, I suddenly understood my Mom and so many of her past actions and experiences in a dimension I never before had the capacity to even consider. You can’t plan on that kind of connection. Not every Mom loves their kids the way my Mom loves me and my brothers, or like Jessica loves her girls, or like other single Mom’s I’ve met. I think that capacity to love is part of the individual, but that’s beside this point. I don’t think any Dad, or even an adopting mother, can ever connect with their kids to the level that their biological Mom can. The kids may be able to connect equally to each parent, but there’s something to biologically giving birth to a kid that no amount of time, care, or commonality can make up for. A kid’s Mom will always be positioned for a connection nobody else can develop.

I think our “equality” culture has set the conditions for girls to underestimate the fulfillment possible in the connection they can have with their kids. Among the people I interact with, I pick up the cultural philosophical projection is that a girl will not feel any more connected to her own kids than she can feel to other children she meets and even “loves.” The reality is that Mothers will kill for their own kids. That’s not a coincidence. They care about their own children more than they care about any other kids. Not because they are heartless or thoughtless of others, but because they are unequivocally connected to their own biological children. That kind of connection isn’t readily apparent in a philosophical view of the world (The philosophy goes that people are people, so a rationally loving person could love other kids as much as their own, if they were given the right circumstances. Right? It sounds good, but it doesn’t work... stupid philosophers). You must first comprehend that dimension of connection before you can build a philosophy that accurately accounts for it. Girls need to understand that dimension of connection before they lightly pass up motherhood for some sort of career path. I think girls can find fulfillment in a career just like any man, but I think there is greater opportunity for fulfillment in motherhood (that is, there is greater opportunity for fulfillment if they overcome the human tendency for vain ambition and second hand affirmation of their lives). But again, if they haven’t had the opportunity to even glimpse that dimension of fulfillment, then they’re just like I was two months ago, and words like these won’t have any place to influence their thought.

I may take these next words back sometime, but as for now... I believe it is ideal for a girl to be a Mom and to raise her family with a Dad. But if that ideal is not an option, it is better to be a single Mom than to not be a Mom at all. Everyone should do what they enjoy, and should not commit themselves beyond their means (kids take time, money, and a whole lot of work), but girls need to grasp how much they will enjoy raising kids before they bypass the opportunity because of some other pursuit they “enjoy.” In my judgment, no matter how much they enjoy their alternate pursuits, the ultimate capacity for enjoyment doesn’t nearly match the capacity for enjoyment in being a Mom. However, they can’t know that until they are there. Being a Mom does not “look greener from the other side.” However, raising kids certainly has been proven, again and again, to be a pasture of greener grass. Every girl with kids has made sacrifices for those kids, but how many of them would choose to go back and bypass their kids if they could be given the choice? None that I’ve met. From the outside, people only see the work and sacrifice. I think you have to be on the inside to understand the full benefits of having kids.

The misunderstanding becomes readily apparent as girls say “I’m too selfish” when explaining why they don’t want kids yet (hello Karen!). They don’t understand that these girls who have kids are just as selfish (and often become more selfish). They do what they want, and what they want happens to relate to their kids more than to a company, project, industry, hobby, or whatever. Being “selfish” is actually a highly valuable virtue for any girl having kids. Actually, girls who lack sufficient selfishness are those who should think twice before having kids. The lacking desire for kids doesn’t exist because of a girls level of selfishness, but because their understanding / perception of what life will be like when they have kids. It would serve everyone well for girls to have a more accurate and complete perception of life as a Mom before they lightly believe it’s not something they want.

One other note before I leave this topic. Talking with my Dad back when I was getting to know Jessica, I mentioned the connection Jessica has to her girls, and he started laughing and told me of when he came home from flying one day and realized “I’m not the number one guy anymore. The boys are more important than me. I’m just playing second fiddle to the boys. It’s not that Mom loves me any less, it’s just that she loves the boys in a way she could never love me. I don’t know how I feel about this!” I had to laugh at that because those were almost the exact same words I used to describe what the relationship would be if things were to go anywhere with Jessica and I. I would always be second place to her girls. The ironic thing is... I really liked that. I want to have a family with a wife who is that entirely committed to our kids.

One more reference to that last note.

Talking with a friend about guys realizing they’re suddenly second place, he commented “That’s often why guys cheat on their wives after their first kid. They feel neglected when they’re not the top priority anymore.” I think it would be smart for guys to realize that this transition of their wives priorities is bound to happen. So guys, buck up your self esteem, get over your insecurities that your wife’s admiration temporarily covers up, and get ready to be second place. Your wife will have her hands full taking care of your kids; don’t be so insecure that she also needs to take care of you! If you’re half a man at all, you’ll be there to help take care of her.

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