Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Initially, when you discover a passion in life that requires intense, hard work for mastery, the excitement is exhilarating before the enormity of the mountain you still need to climb sobers you.
It was in 2015 that I really discovered philosophy when I began attending the Oakland Philosophy Project in the Detroit suburbs. Having walked away from a Ph.D. program despite good grades and a passion for academic discovery, I came to the group with great excitement and something to prove. The challenge would be much greater than I had anticipated for me as a lifelong Catholic.
Despite this, I stood my ground. One of my most extended, protracted struggles was guided by my faith and strong belief in the goodness and healthiness of faith communities. It not only rivaled my struggle to overcome the challenges of a serious bipolar illness but almost replaced it as my intellectual and moral foundations were severely tested.
As I have explained since I launched this blog last month, I do not believe you ever leave the mountain behind until you move on to the next stage, whatever that may be. In this short period since the blog's launch, I have made that case to you, and in the past 24 hours or so, I have realized the progress I have made.
It all began with a great conversation with my friend, Lee Keiser. Lee challenges my philosophy in a friendly, yet formidable way. We've been meeting and talking for years, and yesterday, I finally explained to him my position in a way that reduced it to its simplest form.
“You keep framing and reframing your argument to explain the map and the territory relation,” he told me in conclusion to our discussion. That argument is essentially this:
Human perception is always a limited representation of reality. Attempts to represent reality are imperfect and therefore provisional. Knowing how to wield knowledge well requires humility.
Thus, I felt validated for finally describing this philosophy in a clear and compelling way. It was difficult for me to put myself out there and describe a philosophy that is somewhat unintuitive. Then, this morning while eating breakfast, I received a text from my mother-in-law, Kerrie Hoodlebrink. The message was a short blurb from the Red Bud Ministries website that she reads. It said:
Note to Self
“What is my purpose in life?” I asked the world.
“What if I told you that you fulfilled it when you took an extra hour to talk to that kid about his life?” said the voice. “Or when you paid for that young couple in the restaurant? Or when you saved that dog in traffic? Or when you tied your father’s shoes for him?
“Your problem is that you equate your purpose with goal-based achievement. The universe isn’t impressed with your achievements…just your heart. When you choose to act out of kindness, compassion, and love, you are already aligned with your purpose.”
“No need to look any further!”
I read that blurb and instantly realized that my message had been understood. Even though I am not perfect and sometimes have trouble heeding that wisdom, I intuitively know that it is correct. That is a positive effect of my strong upbringing.
This blog is an expression of my heart. Though it is couched in intellectual language, it is only to explain how we must preserve this purpose in our techno-scientific world.
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