Friday, December 12, 2003

Life and aging 3...

Listening to: "Big Yellow Taxi" (the original) by Joni Mitchell.

Here's the coninuation of yesterdays questions:

1) What's life like at your age?
See 12/8 post.

2) Has your perception of life changed?
See yesterday, 12/9

3) Whats important to you now?
... What's important now? There are too basic answers: One is simple, the other is deep, honest. Lets start with simple: The most important thing to me now is my immediate "family"--my wife, stepson, daughter, dad, sister, brother, friends. Sounds corny, doesn't it? But I have learned that as a human being--I like to think of myself as rather average, normal--the degree of importance has a great deal with the ratio between physical distance and the number of individuals involved. When I was 18 and went to Japan for the first time, I had no friends over there, just unfamiliar relatives. As a result, those most important to me were people who were very far away, mom, dad, siblings and close friends from HS. However, as my circle of friends increased, the "formula" for determining the degree of importance changed.

For example, while my brother is and always has been important to me, I rarely see him or talk to him except when I'm in LA, and I now find some friends more "important" than him. Don't get me wrong. I would jump on the first plane to LA if I thought he needed me, but under normal circumstances I think of my friends before I think of him. At this very moment, the most important thing is my immediate family--wife and stepson. Next would be my sister. Then dad, and then a few of my UCLA buddies, and of course my students. This hierarchy of importance is based on emotional attachment, but if I consider how much time and effort I expend, then the top spots would be occupied by my wife, my students, my stepson, my sister. This has to do with physical closeness: I'm with my students all the time. However, the emotional investment is rather lower for a variety of reasons: who among you have thought about being close to or hanging with your professor? Very few I would wager, which is understandable, given the age difference and the divergence of interests. Indeed, virtually every student who has come my way has more or less disappeared after they graduated. I must point out that the last class, 2003, has been in touch more than others, and a couple even liked to "hang" when they were students and now--to an extent; this pleased me more than they probably know, hehehe. I love to know what they are doing. But this is mostly due to this Xanga thing--Aha! A tangible reason for Xanging. In any event, most students don't keep in touch until that moment when they want a letter of rec. Well, that's okay too. It is nice to think that they still look to me for something. And I am always happy to accomodate them. There are, however, 3-4 (out of huncreds) who keep in touch, and for them I have a lot of appreciation.

But, of course, this is no a competition. And I didn't mean to go off on a tangent like that about my students. Although they are an important part of my life, which means, I suppose, I consider my job/career important. Hmm... this is not what I wanted to say...

No wait, it IS what I wanted to say. Because this has to do with the deep, honest answer. If you're reading this far (and please tell me), you should know that ultimately the most important thing is myself. I know, it sounds very selfish and self-serving. And you're righrt, it is! But I feel that I need to have an appreciation for myself, a sense of importance in order to--are you ready?--help others. Yes. I get off helping others. And I think all of us should continue to develop a similar attitutde. It is two way street, a world in which nothing is stable; everything is in flux, affecting each other constantly. (I talk about this ad nauseum in my Lit. class.) Does this make sense? I feel good about me, so that allows me to feel confident in helping my students--study, advice about the future, etc--they show me their appreciation, which fuels my good feeling about myself, and allows me to feel confident in talking with others about problems, maybe those who are not my students--like some on Xanga? And the cycle continues and expands. So feeling good about oneself, feeling confident, considering yourself an important component of your own life is not a bad thing; indeed, I think it is an essential component in growing and ultimately expanding into society and helping others as yourself...

Hmm... the second answer sounds just as hokey as the first one..Hah!

Anyway, thanks to those who have responded and showed some sort of interest in what I have to say. What do you guys think? Are you important to yourself? Or do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you feel the victim? Well, we all feel that way at times, but don't let it consume you. It will pass in time. Feel good about yourself, and tell those who make you feel bad to screw themselves. Feeling good about yourself will lead to better things... Trust me... or not, hahahaha.

Let's see. If you've read this far, then you must be bored, so here are a couple of sites to bore you even more:
Snowglobe: Put the cursor of the golbe and give it a shake.
Wrath of God: Play God and strike down the Aliens and cows? It's pretty sick...

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