Database of Life Maps
We present here five examples of Life Maps. The first is by Anthony J. Parrotto, the author of Navigating The Mazeway. Many more examples will be found in the database when The Mazeway Project is fully developed. Please note: Because the templates may differ slightly, you will find a
Life Map Template at the beginning of each map.
Anthony J. Parrotto
MY LIFE MAP by Anthony J. Parrotto
LIFE MAP TEMPLATE
Page Zero Premises Personal Community
Values and Beliefs Role in Larger Community
Aspirations Financial Plan
Plan for Further Education Body Wisdom
Career Path / Avocation Emotional Intelligence
Partnering Spiritual Wisdom
Lifestyle Social Wisdom
Page Zero Premises
- As conscious beings made of the stuff of the stars, we are free to shape our destiny. What we become, what we actualize or not, depends on the choices we make; that is, on how well we orchestrate our consciousness to satisfy physical, psychological, and spiritual needs.
- Early humans created language, which enabled them to communicate with one another and to articulate perceptions/visions of their situation in the mazeway. The stories and the myths that emerged established the page zero premises of the programs of the mind that empowered the institutions of the various cultures that ensued. Each set of programs prescribed values and beliefs, and how members of the culture should work together to satisfy their needs.
- As individuals within the ongoing human drama, most of us find ourselves following one set of programs or another as a result of the accident of the time and place of birth, our family’s orientation, and other influences of the socio-cultural setting of our situation — religion, schools, government, the media, etc.
- The prescriptions and proscriptions of the programs of the mind we follow are so commanding that most of us are not inclined to question their premises. We simply seek affirmation of what we already believe. Consequently, we allow ourselves to be conceptually imprisoned by illusions, prejudices, and self-limiting orientations, while ignoring the possibility of adopting a more inclusive and more empowering perspective.
- We are challenged to transcend our myopia by generating coherent and moral page zero premises that will lead to and empower a coherent and moral vision of how we can continue our developmental journey together creatively, joyfully, and peacefully.
Values and Beliefs
- I value what is coherent in matter, life, and mind. It is the basis of our existence and of our continuing evolution.
- I value freedom. It allows us to discover our true identity and to fulfill our best possibilities, individually and collectively.
- I value knowledge. It helps us become oriented in the mazeway.
- I value creativity. It is an expression of our godlike attributes.
- I value love and compassion. They bind us emotionally and help make us whole.
- I value the family unit. It can be a safe, loving, nurturing environment, and the basic building block of community life.
- I believe that everything is connected and, therefore, everything we do, think, and feel has an effect on everything and everyone else.
- I believe when we are dishonest, hateful, egocentric, arrogant, exclusive, or destructive, we add to the chaos of the mazeway. I believe when we are honest, loving, compassionate, humble, inclusive, and creative we resonate with and add to the coherent patterns of the mazeway, which enables us to continue our developmental journey.
- I believe it is prudent to doubt. Knowledge should be questioned not worshiped. Those who claim certainty may open the door to tragedy.
- I believe that we, as individuals, are the basic unit of the social process, the authentic carrier of reality, not our institutions per se. If not enough of us get our own life together and dare to be great, we should not expect our institutions will be.
- I believe that we experience serenity and transcend death through the things we create: our ideas, our discoveries, our works of art, our progeny, our example.
- Maintain the capacity to give love and support to my family and to others.
- Ground my life in Body Wisdom, Emotional Intelligence, Spiritual Wisdom and
- Explore new ideas and become increasingly creative in a manner that leaves the world
a better place.
- Do what I can to further develop and implement The Mazeway Project.
- Continue my quest to define coherent and moral page zero premises that lead to and
empower a coherent and moral vision of how humankind can move forward together creatively, joyfully, and peacefully.
- Live a full life without regrets, and pass away peacefully and gracefully.
My education will continue by way of reading and writing, and by staying involved in The Mazeway Project. My current reading list includes: Paths Beyond Ego edited by Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughan; Evolutionary Enlightenment by Andrew Cohen; and Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki.
Career / Avocation Path
Having had a long, successful career in business, there is no need for me to resolve another career path. Actually, my involvement in The Mazeway Project has been and continues to be my avocation in retirement. I am pleased to say that I have been teaching Map Your Life and Social Mapping courses at Drexel University as an Adjunct Professor.
I have had the good fortune of having two successful marriages. My first marriage ended after three years with the passing of my wife. My second marriage began 49 years ago. Of course, I learned a lot along the way.
Given how problematic the institution of marriage can be and how high the divorce rate, it seems obvious to me that more time should be spent exploring the other person’s personal profile, especially his or her values, beliefs, aspirations, and lifestyle preferences. The sad fact is that we hardly know our own identity in these terms, let alone know the identity of the other person. We don’t seem to appreciate that the “face” we show to our potential partner may not represent who we may be, even at that moment in time, let alone what we may become as we continue to learn and evolve. It’s not a matter that we misrepresent ourselves; it’s more a matter of our own ignorance about our true identity, which we may someday have the good fortune to discover.
Accordingly, the Map Your Life process that I am advancing is beneficial because it helps us learn to know who we are in a systematic manner, and, in turn, it could help us understand the other person.
Having become clearer about my true identity, I feel the need to live the rest of my life in a social environment where I can be open and honest in a manner that will help me actualize whatever further possibilities I may have as a sovereign citizen of the mazeway. I do not wish to be a prisoner of the social imperatives of our times, which I believe lead, more often than not, to illusions and to emptiness.
For a person in my situation, the protocols of our culture suggest that I relax, enjoy a worriless retirement that I earned, and progress toward dying as pleasantly as possible. From my point of view, that is not my calling.
As things stand, it seems that most people envy the lifestyle my wife and I are experiencing. We have a beautiful apartment at a retirement community in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and a house on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. And, if that were not enough, we have a condo in the Caribbean on the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands. It is embarrassing sometimes to be referring to how we divide our time among our three places of residence, and, at the same time, we might be mentioning, in a matter of fact fashion, that we will be or have been vacationing elsewhere. While there are many people more resourceful than we, whose standard of living is much grander, I can tell you that it really doesn’t matter after a certain point. We have more than we ever dreamed, and need no more material stuff. For me, the fulfillment and the serenity I seek cannot be purchased; it can be found largely in my personal community of family, friends, and associates, as well as meeting the challenges of The Mazeway Project.
I prefer being around people who are passionate about things beyond themselves, rather than self-centered individuals who may already have everything they need, yet still complain. Accordingly, I prefer not to associate with those who are stuck in routines and resigned to accepting their reality as if there is nothing that can be done to improve it. In my estimation, we begin to die when we give up and retreat in despair — when that switch goes off inside us and we are no longer engaged constructively in the social process. We may feel this in retirement more than we do during an active career. I don’t think people decide consciously to give up. It seems to be simply a by-product of our life within the mindless socio-economic machine of our times, where its imperatives lead, more often than not, to a psychological black hole that sucks our spirit dry. I prefer associating with individuals who have somehow managed to become free, open, honest, and creative — those who follow their own sensibilities, rather than mindlessly follow the directions of others.
Role In Larger Community
A combination of activities defines my role in the larger community. Dominating my time and energy is my effort to advance The Mazeway Project. I am also Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Resources for Human Development; an active member and Past President of the Board of Governors of the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium; an Associate of the Global Dialogue Institute; and on the Board of Advisors of Donna Murasko, the Dean of the Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences.
I placed a high priority on becoming financially independent. It was clear to me early on that, unless I managed my finances effectively, I could not be free enough to direct the rest of my life on my own terms. While I am among the more fortunate people walking this planet, I hasten to add, it took enormous amount of hard work and discipline.
Regarding a Financial Plan, I have one that provides for my wife and me, and, I hope, will benefit our children when we die. My stage in life is much different than that of younger people who should develop a Financial Plan that will help them fulfill their aspirations and lifestyle choices in a manner that is realizable over time.
Through all the zigging and zagging that characterized my life’s journey as a young man, I was tormented by an elusive health problem. I had been suffering from a chronic gastro-intestinal problem when my physician concluded confidently that my problem was “psychosomatic,” that is, mentally induced, rather than caused physically. I was quite sure that his diagnosis was wrong. That’s when I decided to take responsibility for my health in a more conscious manner. I began paying attention to and trying to discern patterns to the clues my body expressed. As a result, I discovered I suffered from food allergies and sensitivities, which back then were still largely a mystery to most physicians. This experience helped me generate the concept of Body Wisdom, long before any book on the subject was published. In the essay that I wrote about the subject, I suggested that there must be many millions of people who are neither in full health, nor in a state of disease. They are in what I called the “twilight zone of health,” a subtle state between the two, suffering from symptoms of one kind or another that are sub-clinical. And, while physicians can be heroes to us in many ways, they and their set of techniques are not particularly good at dealing with those who find themselves in the twilight zone of health.
Today, appreciation for Body Wisdom and other such insights is much more commonplace. We now very often hear comments about the importance of preventive medicine and how our lifestyle relates to our health. An alternative healthcare industry is flourishing that fills the gaps that the science-based medical model does not satisfy, especially when we are in the twilight zone of health. Clearly, the more wisdom we accrue about how to manage our bodies, the greater the likelihood of maintaining full health and realizing our life expectancy. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until eight years ago that my physician discovered by accident that I suffer from Celiac disease. And now, after maintaining a gluten-free diet, the remaining symptoms disappeared, and I have never felt better.
To me, emotional intelligence represents a measure of how well we understand our self and understand others through a combination of our intelligence, intuition, imagination, and conscience. The more open-minded and sensitive we become, the more emotional intelligence we can gain.
Sometimes our emotional intelligence is tested at its core when confronting a very difficult situation. I will always remember my reaction many years ago to the doctor who struggled to find the words to tell me that my wife, Ginny, had died during a routine visit to his office. As the doctor explained that Ginny died after an injection of a pain-killing drug, I stood there paralyzed by a rush of emotions that I am unable to describe. I do remember that my legs wobbled, and I had to sit down. He gave me a pill, which I held tightly in my hand, but did not take. The doctor seemed greatly upset. I remember feeling sorry for him, as he chose his words carefully. My mind and heart raced for cover. I knew whatever was said and whatever questions I asked would do nothing to change the stark reality of what he had told me. Somehow, through the bleakness of the moment, I knew I had to survive and not retreat to some dark place. My two baby daughters were going to need me more than ever. And there were my parents, other family members, friends, and the gang back at the office who needed to know I would get through this ordeal. My heart was ripped, but my mind seemed clear. Somehow, I knew what I needed to do to survive the tragedy.
I try to gain spiritual wisdom by stepping back from the noise of modernity through contemplation and allowing the combination of my thoughts and feelings to identify with the overall patterns of the mazeway, and appreciate that everything I do, think, and feel has an effect on everything and everyone else. In that elevated state of awareness, it becomes clear to me that, whenever we are loving, compassionate, honest, inclusive, and creative, we resonate with and add to the coherent patterns of the Mazeway.
Because we do not function alone, it is not enough to resolve the various elements of our Life Map to gain wisdom about ourselves as individuals.We also need to gain knowledge about the social process if we are to become participants who add value to the process rather than diminish it. And we need to allow what is expressed by other individuals and by institutions to challenge our own premises, values, beliefs, and other aspects of our orientation. This combination of trying to add value to the social process and learning from it expands our social wisdom and helps us fulfill our best possibilities as individuals and as members of society. We can expand our social wisdom further by participating in the Social Mapping process that I define in the Our Social Map segment of my website.
MY LIFE MAP by Mary Warren
LIFE MAP TEMPLATE
Define Your Page Zero Premises Define Your Personal Community
Summarize Your Values and Beliefs Define Your Role in Larger Community
Define Your Aspirations Organize a Financial Plan
Plan for Further Education Body Wisdom
Examine Career Path Intellectual Wisdom
Partnering Emotional Intelligence
Define Your Desired Lifestyle Spiritual Wisdom
Page Zero Premises
- I believe there is a higher power that some call God or Spirit within our universe beyond myself, yet capable of being within me. This higher power is a force for good within the universe and of which I have only glimpses and cannot fully understand.
- I believe the thoughts and actions of all beings contribute to the energy of relationships, social environments, the world and the universe. If it is positive energy coming from compassion, honesty, love or creativity, I am contributing constructive forces and enhancing the well being, not only of myself, but also of others and the universe. If it is a negative energy, coming from anger, dishonesty, egocentricity or a withholding isolation, I am contributing destructive forces and enhancing evil in the world.
- I need a regular time of quiet, solitary meditation in my daily life in order to hear the higher consciousness within me, to know my truth and to replenish the positive energy within me. As a balance to solitude, I need the loving interaction with my family and friends.
- I need to have a connection to worthwhile activities or projects, beyond my personal life, which contribute to the betterment of our society and the world. These give meaning and purpose in my life.
- I am a relativist who believes there are no absolute or perfect answers or solutions to any questions or problems. There will always be conflicting information and needs that must be reconciled by finding mutual interests in solutions and answers. Inclusion of diverse needs and elements contributes to a positive force for good whether within myself or in the wider world.
Values and Beliefs
- My values are grounded in my beliefs and premises. My values have often developed from confronting adversity that brings a greater clarity to my beliefs.
- I value the awareness of a higher consciousness, God, within me and beyond me in others, in nature and in a realm beyond my ability to see, touch, hear or smell but experience in small, quiet moments.
- I value a will to live through emotional and physical adversity that has given me a heightened appreciation of life.
- I value the joy experienced in connection to those I love and to the beauty of nature.
- I value humor, laughter, wonder, curiosity and spontaneity, especially with my grandchildren.
- I value the intuitive mind of a small child exploring his or her world and sharing it with me.
- I value the excitement of learning something new, analyzing it and integrating it into what I already know.
- I value the creative expressions of great artists, musicians, writers, actor and thinkers.
- I value my small attempts at creative expression that take me from my conscious mind to a freedom and openness in the creative moment of playing in my garden, of writing in my journal, of making up a new recipe, of physical activity in walking or playing with my grandchildren, of conversation with friends.
- I value health that allows me to find joy in each moment without discomfort or pain.
- I value the loving interaction with my family and friends and new acquaintances.
- I value the serenity and peace in my life gained through hard work during painful periods in my life, both physical and emotional.
- I value challenges to be understood and overcome that make me a stronger person.
- I value the political, economic and social freedom of living in a democracy in America.
- I value my macrobiotic lifestyle focused in the present without fearing my future.• I value compassion and humility in myself and in others.
My beliefs are the same as my premises described within My Premises.
- To live a full life with renewed purpose and meaning through: (a) making positive contributions to the lives of my family and others; (b) exploring new ideas through literature, courses and discourse with others; (3) developing my creativity through artistic endeavors.
- To live my life grounded in emotional, spiritual and body wisdom.
- To live a life that leaves a small part of this world a better place.
- To pass from this life with grace and peace.
Many years ago I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. The results revealed that I was introverted, intuitive, feeling and perceptive or INPF, one of sixteen possibilities that indicate some combination of an extrovert/introvert, sensing/intuiting, thinking/feeling, and judgmental/perceptive personality. A person falls along a continuum in the four categories. As I recall, I was strongly entrenched in the INFP type. I suspect that would be less so if I took the test today, although I probably would still generally fall in the INFP type.
As an introvert I get energized by being alone and often find interaction with others draining. As I have become more comfortable with myself, I can experience increased energy from interaction with some people.
While I have always been intuitive, I have come to trust my intuition more. Although I don’t often show it, I will usually experience a reaction to something at a feeling level. However, I am less controlled by my feelings now and can more quickly move into the thinking mode. I have always been more perceptive than judgmental. I hope that I have developed an ability to access things critically in a positive way.
My indicator type comprises only a few percent of all who take the Myers-Briggs test. It does reveal a personality type consistent with the qualities best suited for my profession, clinical social work.
In general, I am a conscientious, trustworthy and honest person. I am deeply compassionate, and in more recent years, have become more self-compassionate. I am accepting of others, for the most part. In the rare instances in the past, when someone crossed my personal bottom line, I could be stubbornly rigid. I hope this would be less so now.
I have had a tendency toward a depressive personality, although that is less in evidence as I have learned to take control of my life. I have a tendency to use denial when overwhelmed. I am outwardly reserved and often feel more emotion than I express. I was shy as a child never speaking up in class even though a good student. I would no longer consider myself shy as I have gained confidence in my having something of value to say to others. Increasingly, I find I need interaction with family and friends although often am not the initiator.
I have enjoyed initiating innovative programs in my work. I enjoy being in charge of an initiative or project but do not like running a clinic or agency. I do not enjoy being on boards, although have sat on non-profit boards because of my interest in their missions.
I consider myself more of a maverick than a follower of convention. I generally see the positive side of things and feel gratitude for the bountiful life I have. I can feel some guilt for the accident of my fortunate birth while many others in the world have little and must struggle hard through no fault of their own.
My life has been one of life-long learning. While the formal part of my education has been long over, my education has continued in many informal ways. Each day is not complete without learning something new whether it is from reading, a program on TV, a movie or video/DVD, a conservation, an interaction with a grandchild, creating a new recipe, a new skill such as poetry or writing, taking a walk in nature, listening to music or meditating. I seek to open all my senses, mind and emotions to be educated anew each day.
Career / Avocation Path
Having just retired from a very satisfying 30-year career in clinical social work, I have begun thinking about an avocation. Since travel is so much a part of my plans for retirement, my avocation must be flexible enough to be transportable and/or intermittent. My love of gardening and nature is transportable to my daughters’ gardens. I have become involved in rescuing indigenous wild orchids from bulldozers on a tropical island where I go in the winter.
My clinical background has been readily incorporated into an avocation of helping newly diagnosed cancer patients by phone or e-mail. I plan to expand this to meeting with cancer patients in hospitals. I am open to having other avocations as the inspiration strikes.
The part of my Life Map on partnering is included within My Emotional Wisdom.
I have always tried to live a healthy lifestyle. However, the common wisdom of what is healthy has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Much more is now understood about being physically and emotionally healthy.
After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997, I became a student of what promotes disease and health. After six years of reluctantly having chemotherapy treatments after diagnosis and with each re occurrence, I believed that continued treatment, with increasing frequency and less effective drugs, I would have a dramatically reduced quality of life and certain death as the drugs overwhelmed my immune system. I decided to end treatment and enjoy an undetermined amount of time of feeling well. Although my oncologist didn’t agree with my decision, I was fortunate that she was respectful of it.
Intuitively, I knew that hope was an essential part of living with my disease. I had to do something that could provide me with hope. After much consideration of the options and talking with my daughters, I made the decision to learn the macrobiotic lifestyle. I knew I must embrace it totally, emotionally and financially, if I were to have the success of those I knew and read about, whom had kept their cancer in remission for many years.
I went to the Kushi Institute in Western Massachusetts for a weeklong training to learn the philosophy, the lifestyle and the cooking. I have continued with a macrobiotic counselor, near where I live, who also gives cooking classes.
The healing diet part of the macrobiotic lifestyle is individualized for each person’s condition. My healing diet is based on fresh, unprocessed foods – non-acidic vegetables, whole grains and beans, with small amounts of “good” oils, salt, white fish, nuts and fruits. These foods were chosen to change my acidic, cancer feeding, body fluids to slightly alkaline, the healthiest PH balance.
The cooking style has many traditional oriental elements. It took me a year to become sufficiently confident in the theory and techniques to enjoy a creativity in cooking I had not previously experienced. I love the dishes I prepare and feel physically better than at any other time of my life.
The other equally important part of the macrobiotic lifestyle is to be mindful of ones physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. This was more difficult for me than the diet. I have been a “doing” person not a “being” person and had to work hard at slowing down my pace to live in the moment. I learned to incorporate relaxation techniques, meditation and yoga into my life. I learned to listen to my body, open my mind and allow the spiritual to emerge. Most of all I had to hold on to the hope that what I was doing was good for me. The goal was not to cure my cancer but to live with vitality and joy for whatever time I had.
I have not been without medical complications from three surgeries and some inoperable residual tumors. Yet, my macrobiotic lifestyle has given me a joyously healthy and richly rewarding life. I have enjoyed extensive travel while maintaining my diet. Italy has more macrobiotic restaurants than the U.S.! I have the love and support of my family and friends, some of whom enjoy sharing my meals.
My personal community includes family and friends who live near by, as well as across the country and world. My family includes two daughters, their husbands and five grandchildren. One daughter lives two miles from me and the other two hours by plane. My two brothers and their wives, two nieces and a nephew and their families, all live in other states. My daughters’ father, his wife, stepchildren and his mother are a part of my extended personal community.
My friends live in towns nearby and in states from California to Florida to Maine. Many of my friends began as colleagues in my profession. Others have come from my personal communities described below.
My personal community includes the people in my Unitarian Universal Society, my macrobiotic community, and members in the condominium association of my primary home, where I am involved as a Trustee. Friends in the condominium association of my vacation home are an important part of my personal community, as are the families who go to the same family conference at Star Island, N.H. where I have gone for over 35 years. Longtime members of my personal community, with whom I have become more connected in recent years, are classmates from my high school graduation class and my college house. Both of these groups have small mini-reunions, that I attend, throughout the country every year or two. Important more recent additions to my personal community are group members and friends in my writing group and yoga class at the Wellness Community for people with cancer.
Role In Larger Community
I first became involved in a larger community, beyond my personal community, in high school when I was selected by my church to participate in a two-week tour of the Methodist settlement houses in cities throughout the Midwest. In college I ran a volunteer program between my college and the YMCA for college students to lead children’s activity groups.
After marriage and before graduate school, while staying home with young daughters, I volunteered in Head Start in its first year. When we moved to a small town just beyond suburbia where there were few community services, I was one of several women in my church that organized a Nature Day Camp for children from the inner city and our town. We also started a community center for educational programs and social activities. I developed and ran a volunteer program for high school students to be “candy stripers” in the nearest hospital. In addition, I organized a Community Services Committee in our town. I was a member of the board of the local chapter of The Mental Health Association through which I volunteered as a support person for a deinstitutionalized mental health patient.
After I went to graduate school and began a career in Clinical Social Work, my volunteer activities diminished, and I became involved in community mental health. I did clinical work, as well as initiated and ran community programs.
When my professional work shifted toward a private practice, and my work schedule was less demanding and more within my control, I became active in my professional organization through the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. I chaired the Managed Care Committee, was a board member as Secretary and then was elected President of my chapter. While President, I initiated a task force on developing creative career opportunities for social workers and chaired it for five years.
As I ease into retirement, my volunteer activities with my professional organization have decreased. My current participation in the larger community is described in Section 8. Career Path/Avocation.
I have always been frugal, even as a child saving more than I spent. With a successful private practice, dramatic increases in the value of my homes and contributing the maximum to retirement plans, I now have a comfortable retirement. My parents were generous with their children and others. Following their example, when they died, I gave half of my modest inheritance to my daughters toward buying homes and used the other half to buy a condominium near my older daughter.
My attitude toward money changed when I was diagnosed with cancer. With my focus on the present and less on the future, I am now freer with spending money on what gives me joy. I enjoy spending money on my children and on traveling. I am less concerned with leaving money for my children when I am gone and more interested in enjoying it with them while I am alive.
Through the experience of times when I had less money, I recognize that I have an ability to manage my money well no matter how much I have. This has given me the confidence to not worry about my finances beyond having a financial plan for prudently investing my assets and having it managed by a financial company.
As a small child, I felt my body was separate from me. I was my thoughts and feelings that could not be seen. I tried to live a healthy life, although emotional and physical vitality eluded me.
As often the case, a major health crisis, with my diagnosis of cancer, changed my relationship, not only to my body, but also with my emotions, mind and spirit, as well as to those I loved. The cancer demanded my attention and changed the way I experienced everything in my life. This was a gift from my cancer.
I became focused on only what really mattered – making my body, mind and spirit healthy, allowing in the love around me and experiencing the beauty and joy in the present moment. Gradually I found myself letting go of trying to be who I thought I should be and living the life I thought I should live. I began to understand my body’s needs, to allow whatever was in my mind, to feel my emotions in the depths of despair and with the delights of a moment and to open to the small, quiet voice within connecting me to the spiritual. All the parts of me are becoming more integrated.
The gaining of emotional wisdom has been a life long journey through many twists and turns both painful and joyous. Innately introverted, I have always had a rich inner emotional life, which, until recently, was shared with few people. As a child I was considered sweet by the adults in my life who adored me. I mostly did what was expected of me and caused little trouble.
After World War II ended and my father returned from Germany, and with the most difficult year of my childhood behind me, my parents, two brothers and I returned to a benign, happy life in central Kansas. I was fortunate to have parents and grandparents who believed in me. I went off to college believing I could do anything. I had yet to be tested by challenges in my idealistic life.
In a highly competitive college I experienced fear of not measuring up for the first time, although I was doing reasonably well in my courses. I avoided facing my fears by marrying before having to take comprehensive exams to graduate. My wish to become a professional social worker was suppressed although not forgotten. I experience greater joy than I had ever known when our first daughter was born. Over time, as my personal aspirations were overshadowed by family and societal expectations, I experienced unrecognized depression and cut off from my feelings. With a lack of emotional wisdom to deal with the conflict within me, my first marriage ended as I began graduate school in social work when my youngest daughter entered first grade ten years after completing my undergraduate degree.
I remained in conflict over the break up of my marriage and going to graduate school, with little support from family to sustain me, yet I felt a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. The part of me suppressed for 10 years, emerged out of depression. I felt joy again amidst the conflict.
After graduating with a Master’s degree in Social Work, I married a second time in response to family pressure. I was not yet strong enough to resolve my conflicting needs in an emotionally healthy way. That marriage was, in general, an emotional disaster that I ended when, through therapy, I gained the strength to see how emotionally destructive the marriage was to me. I do not consider my marriages failures. They both led to my growth in emotional wisdom.
With a greater respect for and value of my personal needs and aspirations, I met the love of my life at age 50. We had nine years of a relationship of mutual respect as equals before he died of prostate cancer. I experienced the joy of being emotionally whole with a companion who accepted me, not as an idealized woman, but for whom I was. I now bring this emotional wisdom to my relationships and activities with an increased sense of emotional and spiritual well-being.
Like emotional wisdom, my spiritual wisdom has accrued through life long experience. Currently, it has become a more focused part of my personal growth. My earliest spiritual development came through the Methodist church, which taught me that God is love. I felt a God of love within me as a child. My parents made a conscious effort to expose us to a variety of protestant churches to show us that there was more than one way to find God. There were only Christian churches in the midwestern town where I grew up. The Methodist church stripped away outward symbols of God and focused on a direct experience of the spiritual.
As a young child I read a biography of a childhood hero, Thomas Jefferson, and became aware of the Unitarian belief in a God within. This resonated with my own experience of God within me. As an adult I gravitated to the Unitarian Universalist Society which had no creed and accepted all beliefs and faiths. It fit my personal spirituality better than traditional Christian institutional religions. I had long struggled with the paternalistic premise of Christianity.
With life threatening health problems, I experienced a deepening of my spiritual connection with the higher consciousness within me and outside of me. I opened myself to the love around me in my life and of those who had passed on. Now the God as love of my childhood has renewed spiritual meaning through personal life experience.
I believe God is in everyone and everything in nature. My spiritual wisdom takes my personal spirituality beyond myself and ego to a connection to the realm unseen and unknowable where faith, trust and hope prevail. My spiritual wisdom has always intuitively connected me to the worth of other people with compassion for their needs and situations.
My spiritual wisdom is the culmination of all the learning about myself and the world around me integrated with the intuitive knowledge of God within me.
MY LIFE MAP by Joe Gravante
LIFE MAP TEMPLATE
Page Zero Premises Personal Community
Values and Beliefs Role in Larger Community
Aspirations Financial Plan
Personal Survey Body Wisdom
Plan for Further Education Emotional Intelligence
Career Path / Avocation Spiritual Wisdom
Page Zero Premises
My premises are a product of my parents, my schools, my church, and the culture surrounding me. These forces only help to clarify where I get my premises from, they do not define me. I am free to question and form my premises around my personal truth, totally free from preconceived notions of what others may feel is right for me. The premises that I hold true are the ones that clarify and guide me through the mazeway successfully without lowering the well being of others.
I believe family is one of the most important aspects of a person’s life. Family will always love, extend a hand, and help guide you through the mazeway. When being raised, parents will set the foundation for strong morals, self-determination, and self-truth. Family is where a child learns to be a part of this world, and these lessons will stick for the rest of their lives. Family is where you can turn no matter the circumstance and receive caring, hope and encouragement.
There is too much in this world and life is too short to stop learning. Situations always change throughout life and one sure way to be on the successful end is to always be creating knowledge. My mind is my favorite and most potent tool for everything that I do, and when I educate myself I hone my ability to create my own way through the mazeway.
I believe there is a God in the intelligent creation of everything around us. I believe that the human manifestation of God is our feeble attempt trying to make sense of something that in incomprehensible. God is not a single deity to be cherished by one religion, but a universal premise of perfection in all things. We can always become more like God in the ways we create but he is the everlasting idea in which we strive for in life, the asymptotic point in which all humans hope to reach.
Values and Beliefs
I value family and its responsibility to raise a successful generation of human beings.
I value education and learning for the benefit of myself and others. The more educated I am the more able I am to better the lives of myself, my family, and the community around me.
I value the perfection of God, the ways in which to sense him, and the goal to be like him.
I value challenges in which the solutions lead to benefits in people’s lives.
I value friendship, love, and partnership. It brings out the best in people and removes selfishness from the picture.
I value time in which I can be creative and thoughtful.
I value respect and sensibility in all things.
I value new experiences and connecting them to previous ideas.
I value personal freedom to choose a lifestyle in which I am most effective.
I aspire to live a life full of experience, creativity, love, success, and impact. I want to create a family that fosters all of these things, focuses on the betterment of themselves and others, and loves each other unconditionally. I want to work in a place that also fosters these things so that my home life and my work life have continuity. I want to lead by example so that others may see a clearer path in their life. I want to stay healthy through exercise, eating moderately but richly. I want to leave my family with financial freedom and opportunity.
I am an explorer – someone who likes to come up with new and betters ways to do things outside of the established rules. I do not value the rules that others have put in place to govern and control systems and processes. I believe these things stifle innovation and free thinking. When change comes I want to find out what the weaknesses are in the system in place and discover with others how to change it. People who like to develop within the rules and confines of a system do not like the way I work. By changing the rules I am changing the structure of the problems they are solving, and they feel this is detrimental and unruly.
I am external – I like to process information and decisions by talking them through with others. I am best able to formulate ideas and be creative by speaking aloud, debating, and confirming with others. This external tendency brings out the external nature in others with whom together creative process flows. I am at risk at alienating people who think internally, even though they may have excellent creative input. Understanding internal thinkers can help me gain a broader sense of creativity.
I make decisions with people in mind – when it comes to making a decision I like to ensure that everyone is satisfied and happy before the decision is made. This is contrary to someone who makes a decision based on task orientation instead of thinking of others. Task oriented decision makers are good at getting decisions made, but often at the expense of people’s feelings. A good balance between the two decision makers can get a problem competed but in a way that all people are satisfied.
Plan for Further Education
I am a lifelong learner and plan on furthering my education throughout my entire life. I will do this through literature, experiences, reflection, and more formal forms of education such as a Masters Degree program and a Ph.D. Everyday is a new learning opportunity in which I take advantage of.
I am just starting my career as a Program Manager at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. This company meets all of my needs in creativity, freedom, and continuity between work and family. It also offers me the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest minds in technology. I plan on becoming the CIO of a corporation because I believe technology can transform business if used in the right places. I believe information technology is the backbone of any knowledge based economy such as ours, and huge impacts can be made by innovating new and creative solutions using information management.
I also plan on owning my own small company with my brother, Justin, doing creative design work and developing software solutions for businesses on the web. This may be a long time down the road but the possibility of working with family follows many of the values I have set forth.
I want to retire as a University Professor, teaching life lesson and fostering thoughtfulness, creativity, and drive within my students.
I have just asked my girlfriend, Jenna, to marry me. This was a bid decision to make, because my family does not believe in divorce. We learned as children that when finding a partner, you absolutely make sure they are the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. She has to complement you so that you become more whole as one. She has to have the same values as you do and the courage to question what is right and what is wrong. You both have to be interested and vested in each other, supportive of each career and life path, have open respect and regard, and work together. You need to be able to talk with her openly about everything so that she can feel needed, and she needs to do the same. You need to trust each other and never forget each other. You also must be resilient to the hard times, because there will be some, and you have to believe together you can make it through.
I have found all of this in Jenna and more. In our six years together we have experienced growing together, growing apart, life changing decisions, and hard family times. The one thing we never did was forget each other. I believe this decision to marry her will fill my life with joy never imagined.
I want to live a life where I want not for necessities nor crave for luxuries. I want to enjoy everything that the world has to offer, but also draw the line between rationality and absurdity. I want to work hard for the love of what I do and hopefully the money will follow. I never want to commute in a car more than 10 minutes and would much rather prefer to ride my bicycle. I like having company and hosting parties which I plan on doing for the rest of my life. I never want to not enjoy my life so doing what I want (for the good of Jenna and me) is paramount.
I like to surround myself with people who are passionate, intelligent, open-minded, optimistic, self-determined, and driven. People who wait for others to fix the things they complain about are a drain on my spirit. The most enjoyable and progressive times in my life have been with people who run full steam ahead with ideas knowing the risks and enjoying the thrill of taking them. So far in my life the relationships that have been able to last the test of time and distance are the ones with people who share these sentiments. I will be friends with everyone, but to truly be a part of my personal community you have to embody most of these qualities.
Role in the Larger Community
Being an effective citizen and person requires a commitment to the larger community. Becoming an active participant in the larger community can mean many things, such as getting involved in public schooling, mentoring, donating money, voting, holding a public position, rallying for a cause, volunteering, or helping others. The key is to take ownership in the area around you and to start feeling responsible for the direction its going. Social capital, defined as the individual and communal time and energy that is available for such things as community improvement, social networking, civic engagement, personal recreation, and other activities that create social bonds between individuals and groups, is paramount in the success of the community and our nation. I feel a personal responsibility to add to the social capital of any location I am residing in.
I plan on reaching financial freedom as early as possible so I can continue to make decisions in my life based on what I feel like doing. I will never let money get in the way of having great experiences with friends and the outdoors. I will not waste my money on cultural artifacts such as nice cars and 5 bedroom homes for 2 people. They key for me is to never get myself trapped by money, so that making hard life decisions never brings money into the equation.
I am a health conscious person through my upbringing, but I still falter when trying to make the right decisions in my health. I generally feel I am a healthy person, happy most of the time, and can identify with right and wrong decisions for my body. I feel it is important to experiment with your body to determine what is the range of combinations in eating, sleeping, drinking, stress, exercise, anything you put your body through that will keep you feeling good. It is easy to lose the feeling of health and happiness to feelings of depression and illness if you do not constantly remind yourself of them. I do not like taking pharmaceuticals unless it is an antibiotic, as exercise, sunshine, and healthy diet can make a world of difference in my daily outlook. By listening to my body I can make decisions for it that I know will have tremendous effects on how I feel.
Emotional wisdom comes from experiencing good times and bad times, tough times and vacation times. Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new about yourself and make the connection in your head. Self reflection is an important aspect of gaining emotional wisdom. Taking the time everyday to think about your actions and how they affected your psyche can help you determine your true inner feelings about the world you have built around you. Experiencing new things everyday will help you gain in emotional wisdom and at the same time keep you excited about life. When it comes to your partner you both need to work on a shared emotional wisdom. Understanding each other’s feelings and never forgetting about one another will make a big difference in a marriage.
I am not sure if there is a spiritual wisdom outside of emotional wisdom. The emotions inside of me are the guiding force behind my creativity, drive and compassion. I feel most at peace when I am aligned with the emotions that resonate peacefulness and giving. This is where I get my best work done, I am most proud of my accomplishments, and I feel I have made a difference in the lives of others. I am unhappy when I feel selfish, disheartened, and egotistic. These feelings do not bring out the best in me and I believe it shows in the quality of my life and my work.
Mapping my life has been a very insightful exercise in getting to know myself and others. I believe that the power of this course is in the teaching of self-reflection and the questioning behind my life. Before I took this course I was able to think about where I wanted my life to go, but using the life map allowed me to solidify all of my ideas and thoughts on paper. Now I am able to constantly go back and reflect on these issues, revise and add to them, and expand on them to keep mapping myself. Life in the mazeway is hard, but it becomes much easier once you have a solid understanding of who you are and where you want to go. The lessons I have learned in class I have been able to take with me and apply them to my citizenship class where we mentor University City high school kids. Knowing that these kids may not question why there are so many inequities in their life, I wanted to bring to them the ability to look beyond the helplessness and see they don’t have to live with the premises that have been set forth for them. I hope that with this idea I gave my mentee a chance to question his own life and choose to live the life he makes for himself. I have recommended this class to everyone that I know that is still in Drexel, and I hope they can experience this the same way I have. Tony Parratto and Wes Shumar have put together a brilliant class and I look forward to keeping in touch with them to see how it has educated other well-rounded and thoughtful students.
MY LIFE MAP by Jason Kunen
LIFE MAP TEMPLATE
|Page Zero Premises||Personal Community|
|Values and Beliefs||Role in Larger Community|
|Plan for Further Education||Body Wisdom|
|Career Path/Avocation||Emotional Intelligence|
Page Zero Premises
• If we want to create a world of peace and collaboration, we must be willing to face ourselves and strive to understand our own psychological process.
• We are as we mind. The world is a projection of ourselves.
• Using a mental technology that fragments, objectifies, and focuses on itself, leads to a breakdown in communication, and damages our relationships with the planet, each other, and ourselves.
• There is a different way we can conduct our mind that is directed by compassion, wisdom, and understanding.
• Ideals create a split between the concept/ideal and our actual experience. What is needed are practical methods and applied philosophical teachings accessible to everyone as signposts, not set up as an authority or “the” way, to show there is a more powerful technology of mind that is part of our evolution.
• An environment of fear and control obstructs the development of intelligence. We need to create safe, trusting, non-judgmental spaces, in schools, the home, and the workplace, where intelligence, creativity, and happiness can flourish.
• Markers, developed by my teacher Dr. Ashok Gangadean, that distinguish when one is using /ego-script/ or ((Logos-script)) are highly valuable tools for promoting global literacy and ((dialogue)) across worldviews. The ((Logos-script)) or ((double bracket markers)) are, essentially, used to denote words that are not fragmented, objectified, absolutized, or stuck in a particular framework.
• Although we are not superior to anything else, it is only as humans that we can use life’s lessons and experiences to break the cycle of violence in ourselves, and embody unconditional love, compassion, and wisdom.
Values and Beliefs
• I value holistic education that strives to create a supportive, non-judgmental, and intellectually safe atmosphere where creativity, intelligence, compassion, and the unique abilities of each student are cultivated and celebrated.
• I believe that we have a responsibility to tend to each other and our planet, and that optimizing our relationships with everything around us will lead to a more compassionate and happier world.
• I value psychological freedom, and avoid depending on any system, teacher, authority or guru. I believe we should learn from everyone, but follow no one, and find the answers ourselves.
• I believe we have a choice of whether we wish to be a victim of life’s experiences, or to be an ((R-evolutionary co-creator)) of a ((new world)).
• I believe that through non-judgmental awareness and careful observation of our words, thoughts, fears, and reactions, that we can let go of our conditionings and ((rehabilitate)) our mind.
• The journey of our human existence is to evolve from an /ego-pillar/ to a ((Buddhafly)). The creation and deconstruction of the /ego/ is a necessary prerequisite to ((evolve)) to a higher technology of conducting our mind.
• The experiences of suffering from /ego-mental thinking/ leads to the awareness and urgency that there must be an ((alternative way)) to experience life.
I aspire to be a ((Global Philosopher)) and ((educator)) in order to promote global literacy, global citizenship, and dialogue across worldviews.
Plan for Further Education
• I have been reading and studying philosophy independently since the age of ten, and I continue and enjoy studying the teachings of the vast wisdom traditions.
• Although graduate school, likely in East-West philosophy, is potentially in my future, I am currently setting my sights on joining the workforce and acquiring experience in the working world.
• I believe that one should never stop learning, and that school should not get in the way of one’s education.
I seek to be an ((educator)) to promote global literacy, understanding the human condition, and empowering young people with the tools for the journey towards our ((conscious evolution)). As an educator in the Humanities, I try to foster inquiry, empathetic learning, and hope to serve as a role model to my students that psychological freedom is possible.
To optimize our relationships with others requires that we understand our own psychological process so that we avoid objectifying, taking advantage of, or becoming psychologically dependent on another. When both partners come together in this way, there is tremendous love, freedom, and happiness.
I think I tend to live a fairly simple lifestyle. I enjoy the proximity of an active, metropolitan area, but cherish a peaceful, quiet abode. I try and maintain a balance of introversion and extroversion, though circumstances and my personality tend to shift to the former. I try to enjoy whatever I am engaged in, in a Zen-like fashion. Also, I highly value spending time with close friends.
Since my graduation from Haverford College, my personal community consists of my immediate family, and a few close friends, colleagues, and teachers with whom I communicate with and visit regularly. I have learned that being around people stuck in, and unaware of their own /ego-mental habits/ and /conditionings/ and refuse to change or look at them, is an excellent test of patience. In such situations, one must learn to simply ((be)) the source of safety, love, and listening, and not get frustrated or impose any ideas on them. Sometimes, people need an experience that makes them feel groundless before they can consider that there may be different ways of processing experience and more to life that what the /culture/ has led us to believe.
I prefer to be around people with a good sense of humor and can think deeply about the great issues of our time, and are open to new ideas. I find myself with groups of friends who enjoy the simple things, don’t cause or attract /drama/, and enjoy each others’ presence.
Role in Larger Community
Growing up in Staten Island, NY, neither my family nor I were ever part of any larger community other than ourselves, my older brother’s friends, and a few of my peers from school. This pattern continued until my years at Haverford College, where I met a diverse group of people. During my time there, I established a martial arts group. Interestingly, it attracted many different kinds of people who felt, like myself, that they did not fit into any particular label or group. It was such a pleasure to be able to create a safe space where people can come together, let go of their problems through the martial arts, learn valuable skills, and work with all kinds of people.
At this point in time, I am looking to empower the younger generations by helping them develop their awareness, and their critical and meditative reflection skills in order to bring about a more ((conscious and dialogical humanity)).
I am not a spendthrift, nor do I feel inclined to seek fancy material goods. I aim to provide the necessities for myself and support my family, with a few practical indulgences if possible. I focus more for functionality and aesthetic than grandeur and extravagance.
As a martial artist, I strive to stay active, fit, healthy, and strong. The spiritual path requires we train both our mind and our body. I believe our body is a gift from our parents and the ((Field)), and thus, we should take care of it through proper nutrition, sufficient exercise, and by avoiding harmful substances that damage the body and affect the clarify of mind.
I value a holistic approach to medicine and treating illness. I also believe it is necessary to be educated about whatever illnesses we may have; we can also use our ailments as opportunities to learn more about ourselves and see if there is a hidden lesson life is trying to show us.
Since it is so difficult to find accurate information regarding proper diet and nutrition, I make an effort to research and educate myself about foods and maintaining a balanced, healthy diet.
To me, intelligence means clarity, understanding, and creativity. Emotional intelligence, therefore, is our ability to understand ourselves and our emotional reactions with clarity. Having had to deal with years of pent up anger, depression, and loneliness as I was growing up, I had fertile ground later in life to ((reflect, observe, and rehabilitate)) my emotional responses to experiences. This also gave me an opportunity to understand their causes and the kind of suffering one goes through in these states. I believe emotional intelligence is very closely connected, if not inseparable from Spiritual Wisdom.
Most of my ideas on spiritual wisdom are summarized in the Page Zero Premises and Values and Beliefs section, so here, I shall focus on the ways in which I try to advance my own spiritual wisdom.
Through the martial arts, various meditative practices, and learning from the various wisdom traditions, and studying myself, I try to deconstruct my /conditionings/, /fears/, and /ego-mental habits/ of mind. When I reflect on experiences, I always try to place them within the larger context of the ((Universe)) and realize there is much more than my /story/. Through these realizations, (( I )) strive to stay open to the ((Field)) and be of service to others.
I have had the benefit of meeting many teacher in my lifetime, having access to the vast amounts of wisdom teachings, being exposed to many meditative practices, and a psychologically difficult childhood, all of which aid me to understand others and pursue a path of service to humanity. I follow no guru, religion, system, organization, nation, or ideology of any kind, but let go of all /narratives/ to be open to ((psychological freedom)) and to ((cross into)) different worldviews.
It is important to surround ourselves with people we enjoy being around, and can learn from. Many of our great wisdom teachers, from Aristotle to Confucius to the early Buddhists knew, centuries ago, about the importance of being in the company of those who are wiser, more compassionate, and more intelligent than ourselves. I believe we should strive to optimize our relationships with all things, and learn the art of ((deep dialogue)) so that we can see, hear, empathize with, understand, and acknowledge the ((Sacred Other)).
Social wisdom, it seems to me, is also connected with spiritual wisdom; for us to optimize our relationships with others, we must learn to understand ourselves. Outward change and benefit for the world begins from within; from an ((inner revolution)) in oneself.
MY LIFE MAP by Dave McCormick
LIFE MAP TEMPLATE
Define Your Page Zero Premises Define Your Personal Community
Summarize Your Values and Beliefs Define Your Role in Larger Community
Define Your Aspirations Organize a Financial Plan
Plan for Further Education Body Wisdom
Examine Career Path Intellectual Wisdom
Partnering Emotional Intelligence
Define Your Desired Lifestyle Spiritual Wisdom
Page Zero Premises
I see this exercise as an examination of worldview. This brings us back to the question of cultural relativity. From the text I get that the addition of ‘culturally positive’ things brings order to the mazeway while the addition of culturally negative things brings chaos. This is a culturally relativist view of the world and our place within it. What we see as chaos could be seen as order viewed through another lens.
Throughout the example opinions we see that ‘giving meaning to life’ is central to premise. In other words “do what makes you feel good.” This is an ongoing struggle for many because what makes people feel good in the short term does not necessarily make them feel good in the long term. Engagement in hedonistic activity is often pleasurable in the short term but quite the opposite in the next day and after when dealing with the repercussions. Also many things that one may think are righteous or good may not be seen so under the law. So what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is culturally relative but ultimately comes down to the individual.
I would agree that it is important to question one’s ‘premise’ as it is a product of a worldview, which has been indoctrinated. Does this doctrine work for you as an individual? How do you tweak it to better understand the world and function in it? What could be obstacles to your point of view/conduct? Are you willing to make these sacrifices?
Religion has been for most of human history synonymous with worldview it is only in the last centuries that mankind has organized worldview around science and philosophy and religion. There is a lot of overlap here but the point is that religion is no longer the end all of premise. We (western society) do not organize ourselves completely around religion anymore. I believe that God in the Christian sense of the word exists only because there are people who believe he does. As a child of the scientific age I see no more evidence in an existence of God as I do for the existence of Zeus, Hermes, Dionysus or Aries. All of these have been created in man’s image; look how we represent them in art. The gods of the past and present have all demonstrated human characteristics. The Christian God, lest we forget he is the God of the Old Testament displays the whole gammon of human emotions.
Values and Beliefs
My Values and Beliefs hearken back to my premise and how I view the world and man’s place in it. I believe in some higher power or force of the universe. The only term I can really use to describe how I see this force is “The Grand Will.” This Will is neither benevolent nor omniscient; it is merely a force not an entity. This will set the wheels of history in motion but has since not affected it; rather it is the entities of life and evolution that has molded history. Particularly the random mutations that have been naturally selected for have shaped history. Secondarily man has affected history, by superseding evolution. Now for some bullets:
- I value Freedom because it is the most precious commodity that man has in life.
- I value knowledge because it is the pursuit of truth in both the terrestrial and the supernatural world. Knowledge is a manifestation of both being taught and experience.
- I value my family, as they are the group that has nurtured and supported me in my life. I feel safe within my family unit and have the utmost trust in each of them.
- I believe in being objective when examining and evaluating situations because it is important not to be bias when searching for truth.
- I believe that we should question authority because if we do not authority will squeeze the freedom out of populations. This is not to say that I do not believe in order because I know that in complex societies order is necessary to avoid chaos.
- I believe and value the human spirit. This is the divine in all of us and to treat someone in a less than equal manner than another is to deny the humanity of mankind.
(I include Aspirations in the Career/Avocation Path section.)
I took the 5-factor IPIP personality test online which only cost 5 bucks. They said “You inspire others around you with your creative energy and thirst for new experiences. You are exceptionally curious and aren’t afraid of learning new things — which is probably because you tend to focus on the potential positive outcome of any experience rather than dwelling on the potential negatives. You are a true explorer in the word. You want to understand and experience it all, and you’re especially open to new feelings and ideas.” This test uses the acronym ocean to evaluate personality, which stands for: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Negative Emotionality. I scored on these points in descending order from openness to negative emotionality. I would say this could be accurate but I am not sure if I buy anyone being able to assess anyone’s personality based on how they answering questions without actually meeting the person. Also personality tests are based on western psychological science, which perpetuates western values as normal. So I suppose perhaps by western standards I have some good traits. This personality test got a few things wrong. I may try to make the best out of situations but I think I have an overall pessimistic view of the world.
My education plan is an ongoing and never ending experience that is ever changing. I am currently in my sixth year of undergraduate studies and college has taught me a lot in the world of academics and about myself and the world around me. I plan to go to graduate school one year after graduation from Drexel. I have pretty much reserved myself to graduate studies in archaeology specifically the ancient Maya. I have been looking at a lot of schools including: Harvard, Yale, Upenn, Penn State, Boston University, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Univerisity of Texas at Austin, and Univerisity of California at Riverside to name a few.
Education for me is not only about academia, it is also about learning from daily experience and interaction. If one does not learn from experience one might as well be running into a wall. Everyday I try to take something out of the choices I made and how they effect future choices, etc.
Career / Avocation Path
(I include Aspirations in this section.)
Since I was in my later years of high school I have known that I did not want to wear a suit for a living, this is to say I do not want to end up working in the corporate world for any lengthy period of time. When I first went to college I studied biology with the end goal of getting a PhD in ecology or botany. After a year of studying hard sciences I was completely burned out and decided to take more classes in anthropology. I had taken an elective in anthropology through film the spring trimester of my freshman year and I really enjoyed it. After taking my second class in anthropology I made my decision to study it as a major. At first I knew more about cultural Anthropology than any other facet and I thought that was what I wanted to do. After my second trimester as an anthropology major I had the opportunity to do an internship in Copan, Honduras during the winter months and I took it. Here is where I really got interested in Mayan archaeology. Upon my return from Honduras I transferred to Drexel University.
Drexel has reinforced my desire to enter into academia. After graduation I plan to attend a field school and work for a year in contract archaeology throughout the United States. Graduate school is definitely a must for my career path, and I have been looking at different schools to see which program fits me best. My interest in Mayan archaeology is extremely varied ranging from settlement patterns, to iconography, to trade networks. I am not sure where I want to end up in Mayan Archaeology but I am sure that I want to become a tenured professor preferably at a small liberal arts college in the northeast but I am willing to go where I am best accommodated / most needed.
When it comes to partnering I am not sure what I am looking for in a woman. I have had several good flash in the pan relationships. In every instance it is school that gets in the way. I have always been going somewhere else than my partner at the time, sometimes we have decided to give it up and others we have decided to give it a chance. Every time absence makes the heart go yonder. When giving it up has been the decision things are left on good terms. Unfortunately when we had opted to give things a chance it has not worked out, always the same story. My partner always gives me the same story, “they don’t feel they’re being fair to me,” the whole it’s not you it’s me routine. The lesson I have learned is that I although willing and able cannot keep a relationship together from a distance. My wanderlust does not play into having a steady partner at all, and so I have decided not to have one at this point in my life. At the same time I am a family oriented person and I hope to have a family one day, but not until I am ready to settle down. For now I am perfectly okay to not have a steady partner.
This is an interesting thing to think about as I am hoping that I am in a transition in lifestyle. My lifestyle has always been ‘comfortable’ in that I have never wanted for the necessities of life. When it comes to question of lifestyle I am at a point in my life where I am not going to be permanent in any certain place for too long. For the next year I plan to live out of my car and motel rooms while working as an archaeologist in all over the United States. I plan to keep being a party animal as I have for my extensive undergraduate career. I guess its safe to say I am not ready to settle down in any way, shape or form. Although my lifestyle does not does not and will not have many accoutrements for quite some time it allows for a degree of freedom that I am not willing to give up yet.
My personal community includes my family and friends. My family life has been rocky at times, but I think this was due to my immaturity. I have always tried to be a good son, but at times particularly when I was in high school, I was a problem child. Now my family life is very good I get along with my parents and my sisters very well. My grandmother is very elderly and still lives around here and it has fallen on me to do a lot of the caring for her which I do gladly. In my community of friends I run in different circles, which often overlap. I was somewhat of a hybrid high school student. I was a varsity athlete and an honor student the stereotype of a ‘popular’ kid; my ‘core’ friends, as I like to call them were not. We were your stereotypical ‘slackers’ for lack of a better term but then again some popular kids were ‘slackers’ although you could not label them as such. I have remained friends with all my friends from high school; some friendships have become stronger and others have faltered but they are there. This has continued in my collegiate career. Same story, different people, different places. I feel that I have a lot of loyalty to my friends; I am there for them when they need help emotionally and in action. I feel obligated to include them in my weekend plans and take time to plan to spend time with them. My friends have me obligated to make visits all over the East Coast as well as the West Coast. Many of my friends have values that conflict with my own but overall we hold many higher values alike. When it comes to politics and economics I rarely see eye to eye with anyone. Many of my friends simply have minimal or no college education, while others have been absorbed into the corporate world, a system which I am opposed to.
Role In Larger Community
I think that my role in the community at large has not been defined yet because I am at a stage in my life where I’m not sure what I can give to the community or what I want to do within the community. I grew up around here and was raised Quaker, and I suppose that I try to be a good Quaker in my conduct throughout the surrounding area. Every now and then I participate in cooking for the homeless through the Swarthmore Quaker Meeting. I have worked with Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas in several times in different capacities to promote cultural awareness among the Latino community in Philadelphia, and to the Greater Philadelphia Area at large. Most recently I helped write a grant for them. Last hockey season I was active with my high school alma mater, acting as assistant goalie coach to the Varsity and Jr. Varsity. I find it hard to get involved in politics because I have lost faith in our system of government; the power of corporate America has me disillusioned.
This is a tough question I often ask myself because I am graduating with a degree in Anthropology in less than a year. My plan had always been to go to graduate school right away but after six years of undergraduate study I have come to realize that would be catastrophic to my mental health. After graduation I must attend a field school and then I will be ready to work in my field, archaeology. Although I have some experience I want to add a field school to my résumé. I have joined an Internet group called Shovelbums.org and they send me emails daily for jobs all over the country. The pay isn’t great $10.50-15.00hr, plus lodging and $20-30 per diem, to start but it beats wearing a suit. Working for this outfit is to me only a one-year plan, after which I plan to go to the grad school that offers me the best package. I have been ‘selling’ myself to various Universities and I plan to go look at more schools later this academic year. Lucky for me my parents have shelled out almost all the money for my undergraduate education and I will only be a couple thousand in debt after graduation.
As for the big picture financial plan, after grad school my current objective is to land a tenure track professor job a University, preferably in the Northeast but again that is subject to who offers the best package and where will best facilitate me to do my research. Any money that I have to invest I will entrust to my cousin who works at Goldman-Sachs in London, and my lifelong friend Brian Garfinkle who is a financial wizard. I also am not sure if my thoughts on profession will change after graduate school perhaps I will end up in the private sector. I do not want a rich life full of extravagance; I want a calm life where my necessities are met and I can afford to travel, and lots of time for reflection and leisure. After all what kind of a Quaker would I be if I wanted to be rich?
Although I know an active body is a healthy body, and a healthy body is a happy body, my body has fallen into a state of disrepair. Up until last year I played Ice Hockey and this activity was helpful in keeping me in shape. I know I should not smoke or drink excessively but I do; I know I should eat right and I try to but my lack of discipline and tendency toward convenience often get the better of me. I feel the consequences of my action when I party too much, I do not bounce back nearly as well as I did when I was playing hockey. When I feel bad I realize why and I mend my ways usually not smoking for a day or two. Unfortunately I treat my problems in a holistic manner but I deal with them in a myopic fashion. I treat the source of the problem and do not mask the problem with medication but I only do it for a short period of time.
When it comes to doctors I trust my chiropractor more than I trust my MD. I think this is because of my faith in holistic medicine and my distrust of western medicine. I have turned to practicing homeopathic medicine over western remedies as homeopathic medicines do not have the side effects such as dependency (and long-term side effects). My problem with western medicine is that has become increasingly short sighted. The drive is to make drugs that treat symptoms myopically and get them onto the market. I feel that the drive now is not for the consumer but for the drug companies to make money. A lot of the drugs coming out on the market have a laundry list of side effects, many of which can be potentially fatal. I also believe that the testing and trial periods for these drugs are insufficient and when they come out on the market the long-term effects (possibly the result of decades of use) are completely unknown. The thing about drugs or better said pharmaceuticals is that they affect people on an individual basis and what may cure one person might kill someone else with the same symptoms; more often however a symptom may be quelled but this quelling of one symptom may cause the flare up of another.
I think that emotional wisdom stretches from bodily wisdom. If one is wise with one’s body one will have good body chemistry, which will chemically promote emotional stability. If one does not take good care of oneself one will feel physically bad which will precipitate to feeling bad overall including ones emotions.
Having control over one’s emotions goes beyond the body as well. How one deal with emotional obstacles builds emotional stability/character or damages it. We all have emotional/psychological problems that we deal with; this is a fact. Some people deal with their problems with pills/medicine and for many this works; however for many it becomes a crutch, which becomes an addiction. I try to steer clear of western medicine as most all of it is habit forming and that taking pills to deal with problems is like cutting the head off the mythical hydra.
I strive to deal with my emotions through dialogue with my family and friends and my own inner monologue. Discussion with trusted people, along with reflection and personal soul searching is necessary to get at the root of one’s feelings and the best way to understand the feelings of others. I have different friends that I go to for different problems or different situations. The same goes with my friends certain friends come to me in certain situations and not in others as my friends have observed that I have ‘emotional wisdom’ that is helpful in certain situations while I may lack it for other situations.
I try to keep my emotions in check, remember that elation is temporary and try not to get too worked up over negative situations. Keeping things in perspective is an important piece of emotional wisdom. Overreaction never solves anything. One must remember to remain objective when dealing with emotions, as they are often illogical and counterintuitive. However one cannot discount emotions totally they must be kept in perspective and balanced with logic.
Spiritual wisdom for me is being able to be at peace with oneself within the universe or cosmos. I do not know about this whole notion of deities but being able to feel the divine both within and beyond oneself. Spiritual wisdom is individually relative this is to say one’s relationship with the supernatural is a matter of one’s individual ‘faith’ or lack thereof. The wisdom of one is the folly of another; however it is important to be wise, open minded or aware of others’ spiritual self or worldview. If someone believes in a particular notion of god than who is another to say that God does not exist for said person; and conversely who is one to say that God does exist to another.
Personally as an aesthetic experience I feel that spiritual wisdom is connection with the cosmos. This can be found all over the earth in all kinds of different things, both physical and meta-physical. For example I do not see connection to the divine only in the religious context such as a feeling of enlightenment of the Buddhist sense or the born again Christian. I see it everywhere, nice goal on the soccer pitch, a big hit on the ice, getting down on the dance floor, driving through up-state New York, fishing with old friends or jogging down the street. It is the appreciation of the moment and the presence of spiritual potency, divineness, or holiness whatever one wants to call it. Spiritual wisdom is the pursuit of truth, but this again is individually relative and so it is the understanding of one’s personal reality. But one cannot do this isolated one must remain aware of the reality of others and the shared reality that one has in common with others.
As we discussed in class there is the quantum mechanics paradox. We are made of the things of the stars, the elemental building blocks of reality. Are we made of what is ultimately reality? Or are these things merely illusion and what we perceive is not real at all? Is there absolute reality? And are we able to perceive it as humans? Or is it beyond our comprehension? Are we stuck in an asymptotic relation to absolute truth? Are we a product of coherence or are we a coincidence of chaos? And is our consciousness causing coherence or chaos? These are all questions that philosophers and commoners (most people) have striven to answer. As for me I think that I experience moments of truth or beauty, but absolute truth is something that I think eludes most. However absolute truth may not be the goal or point of spiritual wisdom for me again spiritual wisdom is all about being able to be at peace with oneself within the framework of the universe and the universe as part of your reality.
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