Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dividing Camels

A man in Arabia died, leaving his estate—consisting of 17 camels— to his three sons. Before passing, he told them that it was his will that the eldest receive 1/2 of the camels, the second eldest to receive 1/3rd of the camels, and the youngest to receive 1/9th of the camels.

Upon convening to divide their inheritance between them, the three sons were perplexed with the dying words of their father; 17 camels are not divisible by 2, nor by 3, nor by 9. They wished to honor their father's last wish, but it appeared that their father had made a mistake.

When it seemed that no one could be allotted their rightful inheritance, they brought their problem before an old woman whom they all trusted to make a fair judgement of how they should proceed. However, she was also unable to find a fair way to divide the 17 camels amongst them. This old woman had a good heart, and seeing that she could not help them otherwise, she insisted that they allow her to give them her own camel.

The brothers accepted reluctantly, and again began to discuss their plight. Now, with one more camel to divide they sat down to do the math once again.

One half of the 18 camels would go to the eldest son. He took 9 camels.
One third of the 18 camels would go to the second eldest son. He took 6 camels.
One ninth of the 18 camels would go to the youngest son. He took 2 camels.

The remaining camel? They returned it to the old woman.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"To thine own self be true"

This posting is going to be different.

I'm going to be different.

I realized recently that I am very discontented with who I am; I am not aligned with my own values. Sure, sure, you've heard me rant about it before on here, how I am continuously trying to weed out the things about myself that I don't like. Overcoming selfishness has been a big theme in my life for the past few years. I have this theory that just about every breakdown in communication, every impasse, every altercation, comes from selfishness. If we were all a little less selfish— if we could see outside ourselves for a moment (which is immensely difficult in the moment, granted), I think we would all find that life is less of a struggle. While we sit by—taking it easy, nursing our own aches— there is someone sliding from their vantage, dangling on a precipice, calling out for help.

The truth is, several months ago, I made an unconscious decision to be completely selfish. It wasn't decided in those terms... which is exactly what let the attitude settle in. The thought was something like this 'I am tired'. And slowly, as occasions would arise, I would identify what was making me so tired.

'Tired of meeting expectations', 'tired of being let down', 'tired of being accountable', 'tired of taking the fall', 'tired of hoping and praying', 'tired of pretense','tired of sharing...' 

Then I came to the conclusion that I just was too tired to care. So I stopped.

And now I have become disgusted with who I am. I am self-indulgent, judgmental, and non-compassionate, self-serving, lazy and unmotivated.

As I write this, I am watching the first rays of dawn trinkle through my window, and I have yet to sleep. I spent the entire night tinkering with my camera, trying to perfect a new technique. Wait— not the entire night. I also set 3 new speed records on Minesweeper. I am Evan's complete embarrassment. 

So now I commit to getting back to that place I was at, and striving to attain that place I want to be. I worry people when I say this, but I honestly feel that time is a factor in fulfilling my dreams. As I enrolled in spring classes, I came to the realization that I was committing 4 more months of my life to the pursuit of a degree that I don't actually feel I will have much time to "use" before I die. Sounds melodramatic even to me, but this inkling comes from a tried and trusted sense that I've never really been able to explain. 
All the more reason for me to be the person I want to be.