People joke about choosing a day that's easy to remember for their wedding, like 08/05/85 or 12/13/14, so they'll actually remember to celebrate their anniversary in the future. For me, Halloween serves as a reminder of how four years ago on October 31, while my family was sitting in the living room waiting for kids to ring the doorbell, we turned on Netflix and The A-Team popped up. My siblings and I remembered liking the show years ago when we saw it on TV, so we selected the Season 1 episode "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing," and the rest is history.
So, on the fourth anniversary of the night that began the journey Iím on today, it seems appropriate to recognize four of Dirkís contributions to the world that have impacted my thinking and draw out the main idea I've learned from each one.
1. The A-Team: It's okay to be yourself.
Murdock definitely helped with this one. His goofball personality is a lot like how I am when I'm relaxed - including the accents, funny t-shirts, and movie quotes.
The fact that he just did his thing and didn't let other people's misunderstanding cramp his style encouraged me that it's all right to loosen up in public sometimes. All my life I've been a lot more like Face, thinking I need to reach some (nonexistent) standard of perfection for anyone to think I'm worth their time. But in reality, most people aren't even judging you at the level you think they must be, and if someone rejects you because they don't like your clothes or your jokes or your personality, their stamp of approval's not worth trying for. If you live as the person you are, you'll attract people who appreciate you for who you are.
2. Battlestar Galactica: Nothing happens by chance.
This was sort of implied in the series (especially the Return of Starbuck), but I learned this lesson more from what resulted from my interaction with the show. Because of BSG (and RoS), (1) I started seriously writing (fan fic) and had to learn how to write action scenes to supplement too much dialogue
, (2) I learned how to do proper Internet research which would be invaluable for school and everything else, including making informed decisions about my health, and (3) while "researching" BSG I found an interview with Dirk from 1978 that sparked my interest in him as a thinker, which several years later led to my picking up...
3. And Then We Went Fishing: It's not your job to fix what you didn't break.
Names will not be mentioned to protect the innocent, but growing up, I as the oldest child and the bridge over the chasm thought it was my responsibility to help fix chronic familial problems. But as soon as I started to try, it became clear much of the problem lay in the individuals themselves rather than the relationship. After reading ATWWF, I came to grips with the fact that I can't change other people, and I can't improve their relationship or get them to see reality without their cooperation. And thatís not my job. My job is to love each individual, embrace the positives of each person without taking sides, and bring peace where I can.
4. Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy: Know what you believe and live it.
When I experienced burnout this year and was searching fruitlessly for a cause and a solution, it was natural to pick up CKC when most "traditional" options had quickly dead-ended. I experienced an uncomfortably high level of cognitive dissonance with my current view of the world, and I spent the next several months trying to reconcile the opposing viewpoints of many different sources, including people I loved and trusted. Through a long process, I came to realize my lifestyle was directed by fear: either fear of missing out on "fun" or fear of locking myself into permanent negative consequences. My default approach was a pendulum swing between legalism and hedonism. If I was going to live well, I had to find the source of my purpose in life and make that the priority from which all other decisions would follow.
Since I believe that the Bible is Godís Word, that was the source I looked to for answers, and in it I found that satisfaction would come from a right relationship with God; as Jesus said, ďI am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirstĒ (John 6:35). Placing that understanding as my foundation, I discovered my philosophy for life and health does not entirely align with either a macrobiotic lifestyle or the SAD lifestyle (pun intended) I grew up with. Some of the things I used to think were true I no longer do, but some of my beliefs have been strengthened in a way they never would have otherwise had they not been challenged.
Throughout his book, Dirk mentioned several times that the spiritual journey we are on is a journey no one else can travel for us. We must make our own mistakes and learn through the experiences we are destined to have. Because of this I will not demand that others adopt my lifestyle when it does not align with their beliefs, and I hope they will show the same understanding. The most we can ask of anyone, even those closest to us, is that they search out their own beliefs and prove them instead of apathetically holding onto the default approach our culture and upbringing have spoon-fed us.
Well, there you have it. Now I have to decide whether I have time to fit in a celebratory episode of the A-Team tonight next to those old friends called "responsibilities."
Happy Halloween everybody!