ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

50. What would it mean to live your happiest life being your truest self every darn day?

It would mean that I would not be diverting my attention into pretending to be someone I'm not, and more engaged with the world around me as a result. I would like to think that my interactions with others would improve as a result, but I realize there may be a fair amount of work there, and I'm not counting on that.

And that completes the set of self-knowledge questions. Fifty questions in fifty days. And though there were a few times when I wasn't able to make a timely post, I got back on track quickly enough to feel like I wasn't falling behind.

So now I'd like to find something else to post about. Any suggestions?

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

49. Do you believe in destiny? If so, what do you believe is yours?

Not at all. We call our own shots. And we can always choose to listen, or not, to anyone's idea of who we "were meant to be". Including our own.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

48. When something bad happens, do you tend to place blame on yourself, those around you, or a greater power?

A greater power, no. Myself or others, not right away. Sometimes it's just random bad luck. I do try not to conflate responsibility and blame, so I don't do a lot of blaming even after I discover who or what is responsible for the bad thing. Blame in the absence of intent mainly makes things worse.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

47. What do you believe is the meaning of your life?

Purpose. Goals. Meaning. Destiny. All the implicit assumptions throughout this series of questions that one's life is incomplete without something beyond just being alive to make life worth living.

I don't associate any of those things with my life. I can have a purpose. I can have goals. I give my life meaning. (More on destiny coming soon). And I can change any of these things whenever, and however, I want. I'm alive, and that's all I need.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

46. How do you feel and react when you fail?

Failure is always an option. "OK. That didn't work. Time to incorporate what I learned from the attempt, and figure out what to try next." I absolutely agree with "it's not about how many times you get knocked down, it's about how many times you get up."
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

45. What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?

"My life is better for having known xyr." And yes, I would want the neopronoun to be what people would use.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

44. Are there people in your life that bring you down, hold you back, or fail to bring you joy? If so, is there a way that you could rid them from your life or confront them with your problems?

I found myself really needing to work out what the question was asking before I could even begin to think about it. "People in my life" -- how many of the people you meet over the course of the day are actually "people in your life"? And "fail to bring you joy"? Isn't it kind of presumptive to believe that the responsibility of everyone in my life is to bring me personally joy, instead of doing whatever they need to do to keep their own lives running and happy? I wouldn't lay that on anyone. And what about "remove them from your life or confront them with your problems"? Is that really the only desirable outcome for someone who doesn't measure up?

So what I have decided to narrow this down to is asking oneself, "Are there people who wield negativity against you? If so, how do you plan to cope with their negativity?" And to that I answer: Yes, there are people who make negative comments to me or about things I value. And although I will let them know that these comments are contrary to my own beliefs, and will gladly have a conversation on the topic, I will disempower their negativity by not allowing it to have any impact on me. As for expelling them from my life, I see no reason to do so just because they are unhappy enough with how I live and what I do to let me know that; I will just avoid such issues in future exchanges. And I have paid professionals who get to help me deal with my problems; I don't need or want to lay that on others.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

43. Do you believe in a greater force? Whether that is religiously or simply believing in the power of the Universe?

Gravity is an intrinsic property of the universe. It affects everything in it, and has infinite range. That's certainly greater than anything I could command.

Regarding theology and religion, I keep stumbling over two questions, neither of them my own. First off, if one believes in and worships a divine entity that created the universe, it is totally fair by me to ask by what manner and agency that entity was instantiated. In which case, again by me a fair question, is that agency not also worth believing in and worshiping in the same manner? So you have to keep going, and can't stop. The only two ways this will work are if the number of divine creatives is zero (alpha, if you will), or infinite (omega, perhaps). If alpha, there is nothing to worship -- only to admire the vastness and complexity of the self-instantiating universe. If omega, one could well worship omega as the infinite tower of creative forces. But I can't tell which is which, so I'll pass.

Second, we can observe certain things about the universe. One of the most significant observations by me is that science works, despite all the efforts of those who refuse to accept that on religious or theological grounds. More precisely, it appears to be a fundamental property of the universe that independent experiments yield consistent results. If one were to postulate a creative force (call it "God" for now) responsible for the nature of the universe, it is again totally fair to note that none of the powers asserted for that force require that science works in all places, under all conditions. In fact, it is common for religions to claim the existence of "miracles", cases where "God" sets aside the usual properties of the universe for the sake of believers. So the creative force created a universe in which a prevailing condition is that science works, despite not being theologically constrained in any such manner. What conditions dictate this? Those conditions -- the constraints "God" is subject to -- represent "God's Laws" to me, not the more common, and often harmful, constraints on human behavior written by, and enforced on, humanity, that bear this epithet. And I choose not to accept any theology that does not recognize and discuss the constraints I classify as "God's Laws".

Still, I see space for the divine in the universe. It springs from the source of unpredictability that is quantum mechanics. It is no larger than the Planck length, and lasts no longer than the Planck time. It is everywhere. The universe itself asserts that such spaces are unknowable. And if there is divinity in the universe, that is where it exists.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

42. Who is your greatest role model?

As far as I can tell, everyone, no matter how exemplary and worthy of role model-hood they may be in some things, falls short in other areas. Saying that someone is a "greatest" role model strikes me as one's vision of the golden crown blinding one's perception of the feet of clay. I'd much rather list some people who have been worthy role models in certain areas:
  • My folks, who showed me what a relationship that stands the test of time looks like;
  • Someone I worked with at the start of my career, from whom I learned a lot about how to organize a team, run a project, and treat all the people involved with it -- and what it entails to be the one who does that;
  • Lynn Conway, a renowned computer science researcher who battled stereotypes and prejudice through her MtF transition, was a key figure in establishing hardware design principles that have enabled the astounding increase in computing power since then, and was able to spend the bulk of her subsequent academic career as an out and activist trans woman;
  • Julia Serano, whose understanding of gender and its relation with culture has been very enlightening for me, and models well how to affirm one's transgender existence and be an advocate for the sorts of change that reduce the misunderstanding, fear, oppression, and violence that are culturally common;
  •  [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, who affirms the value of having a diverse range of interests, being inquisitive, doing one's research, embracing change, and bringing those tools to bear on one's own self and the status quo. In addition to which they are themself genderqueer, and a damn fine writer.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

41. What do you believe is possible in your life?

Trying to write all those things out would take so much time that there would be no time left for anything else. And, for me, "possible" doesn't properly account for "likely" or "beneficial".

    How about I share something I think is not only possible, but likely and beneficial? I believe that it is possible to figure out a way I can pass as nonbinary: to express myself in a manner that people will not reflexively gender me as a man, or as a woman, and understand that my gender identity is its own thing which cannot be expressed or understood in terms of fraction or intensity of masculinity or femininity. This would be incredibly empowering for me.

    Writing this out spurred some insight. For now, I'm reframing the thought as finding a way to make it clear that I do not pass as a man, or as a woman -- and am doing so with intent, rather than being unable to, or doing a bad job of it. This is going to be quite a challenge, especially in the face of all the one-person gender police departments there are out there.


ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

40. How is your relationship with money?

I have money. I don't "have a relationship" with it. How can I have a relationship with something that doesn't have any feelings for me, and has no interest in my feelings for it?

Having money is much better than not having it. It's a tool, and like most tools, it can be used for good or ill. I try not to use it for ill.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

39. What are your greatest strengths?

Ah yes, the all-too-common job interview question! Which I always like to follow up on by noting that any strength can turn out to be a weakness if improperly applied. We've all been there.

Anyway, I would say my most prominent worthwhile attributes are patience and perseverance. I don't readily give up on things; if success has eluded me so far, I'll look for another approach and try that out. It's only when I've exhausted everything I'm willing to try that I'll set something aside. And even then, I'll probably hold on to it, in hopes that perhaps sometime in the future something new will come to light.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

38. If you could go back 5 years, what is 1 decision you made that you would change?

I'm nowhere near enough dissatisfied with any decision I've made over the past five years to want to change anything. Even going back further, I feel like I've managed to get enough of something worthwhile out of every decision I've made. Might things have been better if I had decided differently? Sure, they might. But they also might not, and I'd hazard a guess that some of the tough things I'm dealing with now -- and improving myself by dealing with them -- would have been no better, and possibly worse, if I had not wound up confronting them as an effect of my decision. I'm sticking with how things turned out.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

37. What are your short-term goals? And what are your long-term goals?

Short-term (within a year): Go to all the places I'm planning to go. Do all the things I'm planning to do. Keep working on how to navigate gender space in a way that gets me closer to out all the time. Maybe even be able to expand that journey more into public space.

    Long term (more than five years): I sure hope I'm out all the time by then. Other than that, run out of life before I run out of living. I won't regret the things I didn't get to do; I'll celebrate the things I did get to do.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

36. Are there areas of your life that you notice you compare yourself to others? Your body, your job, your friend group, etc.

Making comparisons of that sort feels harmful to me. If someone else is more like I want to be, or less like I do not want to be, I would much rather think "good on them", rather than have that be a source of envy. If someone else has less of what I value in my life, I would much rather consider how this lack interacts with their life -- or is even important to them -- than use it as a prop to inflate my own self-worth. I would much rather compare my life to what I personally want it to be (right now), and use that as a guide to drive my progress.

And then comparisions to others circle back again to, "At what cost? For what gain?" Everyone has their own metrics for those, and I want to get as much information as I can to guide my progress. I've looked into the abyss on the other side of those questions; the abyss looked back, and I decided not to go there. And I'm fine with that.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

35. Do you rely on others to tell you what to do or how to act? If so, how can you remove this expectation and act based on your own beliefs?

Seems like there are a lot of people in the world who enjoy sharing their opinions of what to do or how to act. There are often some nuggets of truth in what they say. But there's often also a strong flavor of "Do this or act like this so you won't cause me problems I'd rather not deal with." Sorting out the truth from the trash is something that requires a lot of effort for me, and I tend to push back on suggestions that I alter my behavior in ways I feel don't align with my identity. I've had enough of that already, thanks.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

34. What would you consider to be your biggest failure in life?

I'd have to go with spending several years of my career, and at least two or three more than I should have, as a member of a self-funded effort, which eventually imploded, to turn a promising idea into a successful software enterprise. In addition to the cost of the effort in both time and money, the stress of investing as much of my life as I did in the work did considerable damage to relationships I value, including with spouse, and took me better than a year to even approximately recover from the mental pummeling I had subjected myself to. And the reflection and introspection that was part of that recovery included re-evaluating my sexuality and gender identity, and discovering that it was not what I believed it was -- and adding the stress and distress of dealing with this to all the other damage is complicating and extending the recovery process.

    Despite all this, some of the results seem favorable. Spouse and I are still working on repairing the damage to our relationship, understanding the interaction between the damage and our personal histories, separately and together, and dedicated enough to the process to hope there can be a successful conclusion. I got a chance to experience the changes in the software development work environment as an observer, instead of as a participant -- and recognize that my personal cost of working in that environment likely outweighed any benefit I would get from it. And I now understand that the cost of pretending my gender identity and sexuality are not what they actually are is unsustainable, and am searching for a path I am willing to follow to drop that pretense.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

33. Do you feel like you know your purpose in life? If so, what is it? If not, is there anything holding you back from discovering your purpose?

I'll echo this George Orwell quote: the purpose of life is life. That works for me. And besides, if I did believe my life had a purpose beyond that, whether I knew it or not, how would I feel at the end if I did not fulfill that purpose? What would happen if I fulfilled it? Where would I find value in living a now-purposeless life?

Although if my life did have a purpose, I think I would like it if that purpose, and my relationship with it, would align with the first statement on this list from Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson.
ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

32. If you could be a fly on the wall, what would people say about you behind closed doors?

I have absolutely no idea. I don't think I have any interest in finding out.

ng_moonmoth: We define ourselves (gender)
Initial post on what I'm doing here.

31. Are there any dreams that continue to repeat themselves when you sleep?

I don't seem to have dreams I recall often enough to detect a pattern. Maybe once or twice a year is about it. It might be because I more commonly employ my dream state to resolve issues. If there's something I find difficult to decide on, I focus on what needs to be decided and tuck it into a back corner of my mind to sleep on it. At some point after that, sometimes in the middle of the night, the answer asserts itself to my conscious mind. I have an awfully good record of those decisions being good and helpful ones, so I stay with this approach, and call on it when I need to.

    There is a recurring theme I do have; it visits when I'm awake. (They may show up while I'm asleep, too, but I don't remember it if they did.) I appear to have attracted the interest of a muse who drops in from time to time. They aren't physically imposing, and lack other conventional attributes that designate power, but their voice is compelling when I come up with an idea and they say, "Yo! You wanna write this!" I don't want to let them down -- ignoring or otherwise blowing off one's muse is an ideal way to make it so they don't visit you and leave you ideas any more -- so I do my best, and even if I can't get it to work out right away, I find that I've learned something in the attempt, and will save the idea and any result for later when I may be better equipped to handle it.

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February 2019

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