About twenty years ago, I started a lengthy process of writing a mission statement for myself.  Actually I was shifting gears on a process I had been engaging in every December for a while.  I was in the practice of listing all kinds of things that I wanted to do in the next year.  Long lists: three hundred items.  I knew that I would never be able to complete three hundred anythings.  I listed so many to give myself insight into not only the kinds of things I wanted to do, but also the range or the emphasis of my choices.  The large number also gave me material to study whether I was considering what to do - I am not sure I know how to complete that sentence.

I had developed a list of roles in my life that were essential to me.  Essential to me meant that a failure in that role meant that I was failing as a person, a broader definition of failure.  There were the big ones: husband, father, son, brother, friend.  I was also a computer programmer at the time.  Failing as a computer programmer would have been a big problem for me as I depended on that success to support myself, but failing as a computer programmer would not have precipitated the crisis that I would have felt had I failed at serving as a, say, father.  I don't have in front of me now the list of essential roles I defined for myself twenty years ago.  (That list has evolved.)

Now I am ready to finish the sentence.  The large number also gave me material to study whether I was intending to do all of the actions I knew were important to me.  I knew that being a father was important to me so finding many items on my list of proposed activities that would have fulfilled my idea of what a successful father does would have affirmed for me that I was doing good things.  If I had found on my list no or too few actions that a successful father did then I would have been in a position to explore what other things I might do to improve my fulfillment as a father or I could then ask whether being a good father was really something I wanted.  For that particular interest I was never short on proposed actions.

Large lists also allowed me to do other kinds of analyses.  I considered how many of my proposed objectives were future, present, or past oriented, self or other oriented, fun and not oriented, etc.  Large lists also gave me a basis for writing the highest level summary, which is a mission statement.  Here's what I came up with:

1. Love, support, and enjoy those near me.

2. Haul humanity one micron closer to being a rational, decent, and inclusive community.

3. Give back some of what I have been given.

4. Enjoy myself.

5. Tend myself.

6. Become myself.

I know this was a good mission statement for me because I have never felt the need to modify it, even though my life has changed since I created this statement.

I have many fond memories of my past.  Here's one of my favorites: Every year for perhaps eight years, Rosie attended the Korean Culture Camp.  I worked as a member of the security team, which meant that I wandered the perimeter and watched for suspicious people.  I also attended the closing night performance of various Korean arts.  Rosie was a member of the Chonsa Dancers.  In some dances she wore a traditional festive outfit called a hanbok.  A long dress hung from her armpits to her ankles and she wore a small vest.  All of it was tied up in the back.  I sat in the stands and watched some hundred feet away from the dancers.  Even from that distance I could see that Rosie's costume was coming undone.  I could do nothing to help her.  At the moment when she was really going to have to stop dancing, she was walking in a circle with about eight other girls.  Just as she was about to trip over her costume, her teacher - I forget her name, but I remember that she was a very graceful woman of about twenty years - swooped in and scooped Rosie up in her arms.  She looked like she was carrying a bundle of colorful laundry.  She carried Rosie to one side and in about thirty seconds had her put back together and ready to rejoin the dance.  That moment was nearly a quarter of a century ago but I still have clear memories of it and the feelings I was experiencing.  I was greatly reassured that even when I am not in a position to render Rosie the help she needs, there are going to be wonderful, gentle, loving people who will step in and give her the help she needs.  Life is good.