September 2007

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September 27, 2007 R #

All Work, No Play, Makes Bryan a Dull Boy

After more requests to update my blog than I have fingers, I'm going to do that right now, before I do anything else... including answer the most recent emailed request. I don't have pictures cropped, so check back later, and I'll include some pictures.

I've had too many things on my mind over the last too-long-a-period-of-time. This will come out as something of a ranting on some of the things, and good fun progression of life on the others, and another undetermined situation... so hopefully I don't regret anything I write.


The longest pressing issue has been with Minovia, which is at present semi-undetermined.

Our relationship within the environment of MIT is close to perfect. We get along wonderfully, we're really happy together, etc. Our backgrounds both compliment each other in ways that aren't always easy, but are certainly strengthening to us as individuals and more so as a couple. I would identify it as "the perfect non-married relationship."

In the long term though, our futures don't so easily coincide. Sure, we could make them work, but the differences seem more fundamental.

Having my four brothers, I value how much more dimension each brother brings to my worldview... and it's something that cannot come from close friendships. I'd like my kids to have at least two siblings, and Minovia is firm on two kids, max. Two certainly sounds easier, but I know what value comes from the foundation I was raised with, and I want to give my kids the best foundation I can give them... and that includes brothers and/or sisters. It's more work and inconveneince, but I judge that it's worth it.

When it comes to parenting, I think we'll both be good parents in our own characters, even though it will take some creativity on our part. On that point, this "creativity" needs to be generated across the whole developed world for strong families to grow, while enabling women to live fully fulfilling lives. The solution isn't obvious, but I aplaud the lengths businesses are going too in order to accomodate mothers, and I encourage them to stay with it. On that, I'll say that I think the effort to create an equal distribution of male and female throughout all careers and all positions is unnatural, and even destructive. I think character traits shows up in different statistical proportions amongst men and women, and it's reflected in the careers they CHOOSE. It's the choice that is important, not the numerical outcome. I strongly encourage sharing creativity on how the modern world can further adapt itself to shift from the traditional male managing the business and the female managing the household. The management of the household is less demanding today than it was just fifty years ago, and certainly less demanding than a century ago. But, while civilization can change over a few generations, family is different. Genetics change slower than markets. The fundamentals of human nautre, development, bonding, etc, have not changed significantly since 1900, even though society and the management of the household have changed dramatically just since 1990. Children still need a Mom, and they need her presence on a regular basis. Likewise, children still need a Dad, even though the bond is fundamentally different. And it's not just for the children. I believe women and men, to fully experience what it is to be human, need to be mothers and fathers. People aren't finished growing up just because they become adults. Society needs people who are fully grown up, through all aspects of life, including parenting. As a society, we need to apply our minds to adapt to the needs of all of members of the society, or the society will crumble (or at least stagnate). Beleagured families can cause that crumbling just as surely as poor financial market controls, or poor government policy. We need to adapt our way of business such that it allows society's most talented and gifted women to raise healthy families, and to become fulfilled mothers, wives, and women. I believe the free market of ideas can generate continually adapting solutions, so long as the demand (although it is non-monetary) is put forth in the market. I believe it must be free market solutions, because civilization will continue to change faster than governments can mandate such adaptations. But unless the free markets generate and implement the adaptations quickly enough, the government will feel obliged to intervene. Minovia believes this as well (and helped me to focus enough to see it) , and I see her as an invaluable force in the world for promoting such adaptations. She doesn't wave the fanatic flag of femi-nazi-ism. She carries the purpose of intelligent, comprehensive, feminism. She encompasses what it means to be "feminine," in all its beauty, strength, gentleness, and elegance. She wants to be a Mom, and she wants to provide the best foundation she can for her children, but she knows there is more from life that she wants, and she isn't willing to settle for less of a life for herself. To me, that is highly attractive, and I want to do everything I can to support her in that endevor. We've discussed several alternatives, but ultimately life must be played out one step at a time. So in the end analysis, I think we could do the parenting thing together.

The terrible thing is... understanding like this often comes in hindsight. You can stew over things for a whole summer, projecting future scenarios, and so on. I've never enjoyed uncertainty. And you can only forecast to so much a degree of accuracy with limited information, no matter how much you process it through your head. But, true to form, I process, and process, and process, trying to come to a greater degree of certainty, based on the experience already available. The other state of being I dislike as much as uncertainty is wasting time. If you're not going to gain any more certainty, then my chosen reaction is to act on what understanding I have already. Take your best guess, because your guess isn't going to get any better.

"Do Something! Even if it's wrong! Standing still gets you nowhere! Do Something!"

So, given an incmplete understanding of Minovia's outlook on having a family and being a Mom (fearing more of an anti-Mom attitude), added to more (justifiable) misunderstanding (recently seen under new conditions, and thereby clarified) about how well she would connect with my family (also very important to me), combined with the fact that although we thoroughly enjoy our time together, our hobbies are near polar opposites (generating concerns about compatability after our kids are grown and gone... neither of us want to get divorced... I like the eternity idea)...

... Given my propensity for action in the face of uncertainty, and being faced with some very fundamental uncertainties regarding very important things far down the road... I decided it was time to cut things off. I had spent all summer uncertain about our future together, spent enough time without my understanding changing... As much as we enjoy our time together, if we're each going to be better matched with someone else, then it seemed best if we broke things off, and got on with the search. (Yeah, real sentimental, I know.)

So last Saturday, after a week back in Boston to review my project, talk with my thesis advisors, etc... on the determinitaion of a decision reached Friday night... A few hours before I flew out, I introduced the idea of us ending things. Minovia had been carrying similar uncertainties throughout the summer, although her natural reaction is to take the stress off, and give it more time. We hadn't discussed breaking up before then, but she immediately agreed that it was the right thing to do. It felt appropriate, lounging with each other in the Boston Public Garden, with the beautiful air, sky, trees, and grass, where we walked through at the beginning of our first date.

And yes, writing this again, it still is making me cry.

I know how my own uncertainty played off my perceptions of her uncertainty, but I'm not sure how much she was influenced by my uncertainty. Reinforcing feedback loops are always a tangle, becasue they start somewhere, and it's difficult to differentiate between independent cause and momentum.

I spent a weekend in Colombia with her in July, from which I returned convinced she was ready to get engaged. Then I stressed myself into a stone over two weeks before she came out to stay with me in England for three weeks. I was right at the threshold of ready to get engaged, but wasnt' quite at enough of a confidence level to make the final move. Then her first evening here, she came out of the blue and casually (almost thoughtlessly) said "I'm tired of thiking about our relationship. Let's just relax out here and not think about it." The comment seems harmless, but it took an emotional gouge out of me like I hadn't felt in years, and simultaneously was a collapsing releif. Somehow I didn't flinch, but it was two days later before I could say anything about it... I was pretty well numb for those two days, both with the emotional gouge and with the relief (which is quite a confusing emotional state to be in), all while enjoying England with Minovia. I wasn't pretending to enjoy Minovia being here. I really was enjoying our time, but the emotional undercurrents were...

And that was four weeks before this last Saturday. (Now that I write this, stacking this situation on top of the other... five, I think, highly analytical and forward reaching things I've been concerned about, in addition to my internship... No wonder I haven't been blogging! No wonder I've been feeling overwhelmed!)

So, a couple days ago, while processing more of the aftermath of breaking up with Minovia, several things settled into place which weren't able to settle into place previously. Just before I introduced breaking up, she had asked again about her visiting me for another week while I'm here in England. The breakup conversation took the place of those plans, but thinking again here in England, after the breakup, I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss things, instead of just ending it like that. I don't know if we'd change our conclusion, but I think it's important enough and valuable enough to merit discussion. We've been very open discussing everything else, except if we should break things off. So I decided to invite her out here for that week anyway.

One thing I didn't expect in me... Iit's interesting how desires align themselves into priorities, when one is placed against another. Especially in terms of regret for taking one over another. I noted at the start of this that I want to give my kids the added worldview of more than one sibling. That desire hasn't changed. But I was caught off guard by my words when we were talking through the breakup in the park. Previously I have said and meant "I want at least three, ideally four kids, and I know I'll regret only having two." When I said it in the park, the words were relatively hollow, and have become more hollow since then. I would still certainly regret not having any kids, but with the desire to have a third kid, compared to the woman I desire to spend my life with... I realized the number of kids I want to have is secondary to the person I want to be with. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I never thought I'd see them up against each other in prioritization.

To date, the only people who have heard a word from me about this breakup are my parents before I left Boston, and two guys at lunch, who I discussed sending an email with the invitation to Minovia. So person number five is now all of cyberspace. Actually, consider this written to my friend who just emailed, asking if I was engaged, and why I gave up on the blogging. (Thanks for the email. It means a lot.)

So for the first time ever, I was actually nervous about sending an email to Minovia. I've never gone back and forth on a relationship. I think it's damaging, which is why I was so hesitant to break it off without knowing for sure. And I wasn't sure when I ended things, but I did believe we weren't getting anywhere, and the wrong move would be better than no move, so I ended it. I sent the email late last night. This morning I saw a note that she'd think about what I wrote, and get back to me.

And in the process of writing this post, the reply I've been waiting for from Minovia came through. We're done. It hurts. We still love each other, and I know we always will... but it still hurts. I hope it's for the best.

This is a personal web page. Things expressed here do not represent the position of my employer.

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