3.22.2017

Connecting the Dots

It is both energizing and draining to straddle worlds.  I am a devoted family man who also invests a significant amount of time in his career.  I am learning how to parent African-American child
ren.  There are many people in this city who care about immigrants, triple-bottom line businesses, community design, and historic preservation, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who sits on all four of the boards of the organizations that advocate on each of these issues.

My interest in and ability to connect relatively disparate camps affords me opportunities for even more exploration of overlaps and connections.  For example, I can be of use to people who are looking for someone who can navigate city politics who happens to be an evangelical Christian, or someone who can speak to the importance of STEM education who happens to live in West Philadelphia, or someone who can contribute to regional economic development strategies who happens to be Asian-American. 

I dig these perspectives, but it is also tiring, not in the least because in any one of those worlds, I often know far less than those who I serve with, for whom that world is their main expertise and passion.  While I do not doubt my ability to be a positive contributor and to carry my share of the load, it is humbling to be middle of the pack or lower in just about every group I am a part of in terms of knowledge and time commitment. 

On my worser days I feel insecure and exposed, although all this is really exposing is an idolatry towards competence that has nothing to do with my true value as a person.  On my better days I see it as an opportunity to learn from others who are far more knowledgeable and committed that I could ever be, and a reminder that sometimes being there is the most important thing. 

Some days I wish to simplify my life, and not worry so much about connecting all the dots.  But then I realize how important it is to me, intellectually and spiritually and socially, to see all sides of a story and to not exclude outside perspectives from my perspective.  There's nothing inherently better about a more focused or a more diffuse existence.  Perhaps I need to be more focused, or it is possible I need to be even more diffuse.  I do not know.  What I do know is that I enjoy how my life is now, for there is reward in connecting the dots, even if I don't know any of the dots as well as I would like.
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