More than four years have passed since I arrived here. The person who came here is entirely different from the person I am today, and thus it’s time for a change. Quoting Nietzsche as always, “like a bee that has collected too much honey,” I will share some of my biggest learnings. Before I start, I don’t intend to offend anyone. If you feel so, I’d be happy to chat with you about it, text me!
I Don’t Believe in God Anymore, But That Doesn’t Make Him Less Valuable.
If you’re religious, then my title might have made you feel uncomfortable; I apologize if it’s the case. I’m not Nietzsche to say “God is Dead,” but the principle stands. Many people criticize religion and primarily attack God. When I came to the Bay Area, I used to say, “I’m not religious, but I believe in God.” And I honestly did. I used to think that everything and everyone in my path happened for a reason, that they had their role, that the dots were connecting. What I failed to see is that I was the one making the connections mostly.
That belief had both positive and negative impacts. While it helped me keep going when things got hard, I also kept toxic relationships in my life for way too long. Let me be clear; I loved the heck out of those people. They were awesome and kept me company in my darkest moments. I’m very grateful to have crossed paths. But the dynamics were not good for me. Although all those friendships made me suffer from the wrong expectations, drink too much, and give too much. On the flip side, I experienced a new sense of spirituality, improved my bread baking skills, and doubled my cycling performance. When I stopped believing those people were in my path for an ulterior motive, I went through a process of redefining the relationships, striving for fairness. Some of those relationships survived; others didn’t.
Now back to the point. I will not stop to comment about why I don’t believe in God anymore, because as I said, it doesn’t matter. The realization helped me understand that I’m always free to redefine the relationships I have to something good for both sides. I was free from having a self-appointed role in that person’s life. It was never my job to save anyone, even if I thought I could.
I also believe more in religion, but in a special way, religions, any of them, help people come together and build a community. They also carry a set of moral values that aim to make people better for each other in that community. It helps build trust and compassion among a group of individuals, and honestly, I love and celebrate all of that. So I changed from a non-religious believer to a religious atheist.
Moral Values Are Important, Principles Not So Much
When I came here, I had “strong principles.” I had to say I was very righteous—liberal and ‘gong ho’ on hatred towards the right-wing. I was fortunate enough to make a close friendship with a person who is both a right-leaning libertarian and a heck of a good person. In the beginning, I was horrified by his philosophy, but it was also too hard to see the evil in him. That drove me to try to build empathy, and it changed my life. When I learned how to see things through compassion and not my own eyes, I had access to a whole new world of experiences and, especially, understanding. I still believe there are evil people in this world, but the distinction is that people are evil, not ideology. As I understand it, most ideology has good intentions in their foundations, and it’s just a matter of empathizing to see it. Some people just give it a bad name. So I always go on a case-by-case basis.
Workwise, I suffered much because of principles as well. As a seasoned software architect, I did have strong opinions about what is good and not. I hated seeing the corners cut. I used to criticize harshly those companies and individuals who would cut corners and produce outcomes of inferior quality. While I still keep my work to the highest possible standards I can deliver, I don’t get upset anymore if others operate differently. Most of the time, they act the way they do because of things I can’t see from a narrow technical angle. So now, I simply try to understand, and that itself brought me much work satisfaction.
Having strong principles and being righteous also meant I felt entitled to teach people what they did wrong. There are many individuals like that in this world. Once I learned to build empathy, I just forgive myself and learned how to bite my tongue. I also forgive those who nag me, trying to teach me lessons that I already know.
To close this section, during this time, I also did many things that I considered immoral. I lived in such regret I believed I was a bad person. For a long time, the guilt felt heavy. I also saw many good individuals out of my life over that. While I learned to forgive myself, I also acknowledge that it’s important to behave like a good human. Now my body is my temple, my soul, and community too.
We Keep Repeating Ourselves, Let’s Not Make the Same Mistakes
It took me many attempts to write this blog post. During my time in the Bay Area, I learned how to honor and celebrate those individuals who are special to me. I keep my most precious gems for them. With this, I’m saying I learned how to give to (and expect from) each one up to what the relationship is, no more than that. It also means I keep my private life to certain individuals who “deserve” to know about me and deserve my devotion and loyalty. This is nothing else than an act of self-love and respect for those who are special. I learned how to not overshare in social networks and how not to overshare with my blogs. I text more 1 to 1 and broadcast less (except the food I cook lol). Thus, the difficulty in writing this post.
If you’re a follower of my blog, you might have seen the shift in content type from bullshit philosophical thinking to more of “technical content,” information, howtos, recipes, and such. This is pretty intentional and a consequence of my personal growth. I realized my opinions didn’t have the required depth and concluded it’s better to document facts and not opinions. For psychology, philosophy, and sociology, we already have a TON of researchers showing things with data. Nobody needs more people (like me) talking without foundation.
I still have the hope, though, that I can help somehow improve people’s lives in any way. Personal experiences have the potential to be inspiring. That’s what keeps me writing.
During my life, I have repeated myself over and over (yay! more Nietzsche!), and I kept blaming external factors. “Why is everyone the same?” Well, I guess I made them the same because I kept doing the same thing. An excellent friend of mine who was counseling me during a dark moment asked me: “what’s the conductive thread here?” My jaw dropped to the floor. There are always environmental factors. The art lies in dealing with the environment and improving what you can control: yourself.
Some interesting cognitive biases drive these impulses:
If you’re curious, try to learn about them, but the top learning here is: if you’re struggling with life, stop doing the same thing and operate with data. That possibly will solve most of your problems.
I Will Miss It Here
To close this post, which I dedicate to my community in the Bay Area and my previous communities in Mendoza and Buenos Aires. I carry everyone in my head and my heart somehow. While I made a home out of the bay, it’s time to take this new and improved me, embark on a new adventure in a place with seasons, and hopefully bring me a family of my own—a brand new return.