Achieving Dreams

I’m currently reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, the book inspired by his now-famous “last lecture”given at CMU. He talks a lot about achieving your childhood dreams, and it got me thinking about a post I had written on my old Xanga blog about this time last year, where I listed some of my lifetime goals. I reposted them below, but updated some of them. So this really isn’t a repost so much as it is a 2nd rev. ed.

1. Master Public Transportation. This was actually more of a silly short-term goal. At this time last year, I was planning on going to New York City with some friends. It was my sixth trip to NYC, and for the previous five, I had to rely on others I was traveling with to figure out which subway line(s) to take. At one point on my fifth trip, I tried to lead the group, and I failed miserably. At one point, we were standing at the station, staring at a subway map, and the guy operating the train actually stopped and said, “where are you going? You need help.” For some reason, the subway system mystified me, as if it’s this really tricky puzzle. Last year I was determined to solve the puzzle, and I did! I was actually able to figure out which subway lines/trains to take to get from Time Square to the World Trade Center, and later from my hotel to the college campus where Redeemer Presbyterian Church meets. I was thinking about crossing this off the list, but I’ve decided to edit the goal to “Use Public Transportation.” Maybe it’s because I tend to be stubbornly independent, but I drive everywhere, even when living at the seminary. Once I move to Squirrel Hill in August, I’ll have easy access to bus lines, plus I’ll probably be able to walk to work. (Although with church planting, “work” doesn’t have any definite location yet…)

2. Get a Doctorate. Now that I got my MDiv, ministry is my next step. A few professors at seminary, though, have encouraged me to consider PhD. work, though. The Church needs faithful pastors who are also faithful theologians. I think PhD. work is a part of my pursuing that. Before that, though, I might pursue another degree. At commencement, I received an award for displaying promise in pastoral ministry. The award is pretty big, but the money is designated for continuing education, and I need to use it all up in three years. I’ve been thinking about, and I could use the money just for conferences and auditing classes, which would be good, but I’m also thinking, “why not get a degree out of it?” I’m probably not going to be ready  (or willing) to go after a PhD before the award expires in three years, so I’m thinking I’ll use the money towards a Master of Sacred Theology degree at the Seminary. If I go part-time, I’m pretty sure I could complete the degree in three years, and I could use the thesis required for that degree to begin focusing interest for doctoral studies (likely something to do with ecclesiology (theology of the Church) in Luke-Acts.

3. Write a book and have it published. This in all probability won’t happen until 2. is accomplished, but I’m already thinking about what topics and issues most interest me, and what areas I could actually contribute to. Like I mentioned above, I’m really interested in ecclesiology, mainly because I think ecclesiology may be the weakest aspect of Reformed theology (illustrated by the number of times Reformed denominations have split; how many brands of Presbyterian are there now?). I’m also interested in theology of Scripture, because I also think that our theology of Scripture is becoming increasingly weak in the contemporary Church, and not just in the Reformed tradition.

4. Learn my family history. I know very little about my family, which has always bothered me. I love talking w/ my relatives about my great-grandparents who were the first generation in my family to come to America. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about what happened before they came. I do know that my Great-Grandfather Wrono came from Germany as a stowaway when he was a child. He arrived in NY not knowing a word of English. No one knows how (he refused to talk about it), but he managed to make his way to Detroit, where he knew he had an aunt. He found their house (again, no idea how) and knocked on the door. His aunt had no idea who he was, and he couldn’t say since he only spoke German. So she closed the door.. and he knocked again. This happened several times over until eventually his aunt discovered who he was and let him in. I’ve also learned a few other stories in the past year. Apparently my Great-Grandfather Bernet came to America from Switzerland to run from the law. (No one in the family spoke of or wrote down what the actual crime was.) I’ve also learned that I’m the descendant of someone who fought and was wounded in the Civil War. I love learning these stories. I always find myself admiring my ancestors (except for that running from the law part….), and I’m really hoping there’s more stories about them available for me to learn.

5. Travel. There’s a bunch of places I’d love to see. Going along with 4., I’d like to learn more about my heritage in general, so at some point I want to go to the three country’s of my family’s origin: Germany, Lithuania and Switzerland. Plus, having worked in a Korean church, I’d like to go to Korea at some point. Oh, and it would be cool to go back to Vietnam again… and France and England. I’m not so sure when I’ll actually be able to afford to do any of this, but I really want to make it happen.

6. Learn to play guitar. In a way, this kind of goes along with my family history. My grandfather lived in Florida, and I rarely got to spend time with him. But, he and I shared a love for music, especially singing. He actually sang on TV for a local Catholic show. When he died several years ago, my grandma gave me all of his sheet music. Since he was a bass and I’m a tenor, most of it’s of no real practical use to me, but I love going through it and looking at what he sang and reading some of his rehearsal notes. I was doing this the other day, and I came across a folder of handwritten lyrics and guitar chords. I had forgotten that my grandpa played guitar, too. I had always wanted to learn to play guitar, but now I think it would be a really cool way of honoring his memory if i could learn guitar and then play some of the songs he had written out. Again, I’m not sure when I’ll actually get to start on this goal. I suppose the first step is going to be investing some time and money on lessons, and a guitar, for that matter.

That’s it for now. I think it was actually a good exercise to revisit this post a year later. I actually had to revise more than I thought, and discovered that I had, intentionally or not, made some progress on this. The subway experience in NY helped me master public transportation, I finished my MDiv and have become more interested on a particular area for doctoral work and writing, and I learned some more about my ancestors. Numbers 5 and 6 have been on the backburner, but someday…