And on the Second Day

The day after making a commitment to change is probably one of the hardest days. EVER. Suddenly all my good ideas seem taxing, like chores. I realized this was probably it involved a lot of self-reflection and self-criticism, which no one likes to dwell on.

Yet, I find my motivation in online video clips and the mandatory day-to-day grind of a Wednesday morning.

In order to make sure everything got done, I made a list. I adore to-do lists, as they help me visualize the tasks of the day and the secret giddiness I feel crossing them out.

Doing this is victorious, as if to say “Ha ha! I win! I cross you out of existence! I am the champion! *thunderous applause*”

*yeah...*
*yeah…*

Wednesdays are tough.


 

  1. Say what I mean and mean what I say. (Even in response to “Hi, how are you today?”)
  2. Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)
  3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)

 

Although my day did not chronologically follow the homework assignment, for sake of argument, I will evaluate my day according to the tasks I set before myself.

1. Say what I mean.

This task was fairly straightforward but it involved more restraint than it did freedom to create “a better me”. I can’t count how many times I responded with “I’m good, how about you?”, but I can’t say it wasn’t an entirely false statement. My day did go pretty well. I am in fairly good health. My family is not currently under duress. The only major stressor is homework.

The homework though…ah, yes, homework. It is piling up faster than I can accomplish it. I will have to get right back to it after posting this.

CalvinHomework

I did, however, find myself editing my comments before I made them.  Once it saved me from speaking, what I realized later, would have been a politically incorrect. This is not necessarily a negative thing, as carefully choosing words before you speak them is in itself a kind of nameless virtue. Later, I found myself staying better on task by not saying random stories or irrelevant comments. I plan to make further notice of this.

2.  Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)

↑ I began today with a morning run. After creating the diary, I resolved that I should do this every morning. I found a trail around campus that suited me perfectly.

So, I mustered my groggy morning mind and hit the trail. I ended up actually running two miles, as I took a side-path to the trail by a happy accident.

Χ I did not end up practicing cello today, even though I really wished I could. Homework overran my free time and I had to let cello slide once more. I am a college student first.

cello-and-man

I leafed through my sheet music and chord theory to make up for lost practice time.

3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)

While I wasn’t able to attend our special music and praise event tonight, Χ I believe I accomplished this task in my social realm.

↑ My roommate brought home some juicy gossip from her boyfriend’s school regarding “activities” in the resident hall bathrooms. She was promptly inclined to discuss it with her friends via video chat. I was promptly inclined to put headphones on.

In conversation, in the spirit of the first comment, I made sure to be mindful during discussions and talk about their lives and their concerns before my own, if at all. This really opened a gateway for discussion with a classmate of mine, who I learned was an avid fan of the band Avenged Sevenfold and was really upset that she couldn’t bring herself to listen to it here at college. She explained to me it was about self-discovery but she felt like she was losing a part of herself. That was the most engaging lunch discussion I’ve had in awhile.

conversation

So, to tally up the score, it looks like it is a fail-to-win ratio of  2:5 

I call that a pretty good day.

This is Ryan, signing off.

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The Cornerstone

So… Integrity. Apparently that’s something I should want as a college Freshman. At least, according to Benjamin Franklin.

I finished Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography promptly at 9 am, but after I closed the cover I was ready to go back to sleep. There didn’t seem to be anything of his narrative I could grab onto or apply to my life other than random, useless facts.

I put the book down and went to church. It was Sunday, after all. That meant Church. And college football.

After the Gospel, our pastor began the homily with a parable about how God called two men to forsake their businesses and follow Him. The first man immediately rejected the idea, but a few days later dutifully left his life and followed Jesus. The second man God called immediately accepted, but a few days later had yet to make any effort to change, much less follow His way. The pastor commented on this, saying that integrity was when our words matched our actions and asked the congregation which of the two men had done God’s will. Many agreed it was the first, but if so, was he a virtuous person? Was he still a man of integrity, a man worthy of following God?


 Was I who I said I was?


Suddenly doors in my mind clicked open. I pondered if I was the first or the second man called, and what this meant. Of course, I made theological connections about “worthiness”. I suppose these were deep for a college freshman. What I was really asking myself, I realized, was if I was who I said I was.

Was I who I said I was?

If I said yes, was I being truthful, or was I a liar, no more worthy to follow Christ than the next sinner? If I said no, where did this inconsistency begin?

I realized this theoretical contradiction between my public self and my real self bothered me. A lot. A few moments of introspection revealed just a few immediate examples. I’d been saying to my floormates I was a good cellist, yet I haven’t seriously practiced since I arrived on campus. I said I was a runner, yet I haven’t run any of the school-sponsored 5Ks. I said I was a good friend, but when was the last time I Skyped my high school buddies? These are just to name a few.

If I was not who I said I was, who was I?

Believe me when I say I had a momentary existential crisis. It was kind of a big deal.

I pondered this a bit longer. Who was I? Well, wouldn’t every college freshman like to know. My college philosophy classes have discussed the “Assigned” and “Asserted” identity debate: how our sense of identity is constructed out of what other people assign us (based on characteristics like appearance and socioeconomic class), or what we assert for ourselves (based on our upbringing, our beliefs and our culture). Could I assert for myself a better self? If I did that, would people reciprocate and assign me as a person with integrity?

Could someone “construct” the perfect identity? If it was “constructed”, was it true?

I was determined to find out.

Like Franklin, I decided to make out of myself a “truer” me. In order to give myself this boost of Integrity, I decided to do as Franklin did and begin to habituate this virtue . To do this, for the next week I will change specific actions in my routine, in what I do and what I say. I will strive to make my words match my actions in an effort to become a better person and follower of Christ.

 So now, the fun part. Homework.

  1. Say what I mean and mean what I say. (Even in response to “Hi, how are you today?”)
  2. Do what I love to be who I am. (Run and practice cello daily)
  3. Be an honest Christian person. (Strive to rise above gossip and genuinely put others before myself.)

By doing these things, I hope to better understand the concept of integrity…and myself a little bit too.

This is Ryan, signing off.

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