Last weekend, my website, dbonifacio.com, was hacked, and it was a good thing.
Strangely, I felt very at peace with it.
I was upset with the breach in security, but for some reason I felt no emotional attachment to the hundreds of posts and drafts that were potentially lost. Unlike the first time my blog crashed, when I lost over 500 articles, I did not feel as crushed. I thought about why I responded differently this time, now that things are restored thanks to the handiwork of EP’s Justin and Paola. Here’s what I realized: My life’s work is my life itself, not simply what I’ve produced. Subconsciously, I’ve moved from evaluating my life based on what I’ve achieved and amassed to evaluating my life based on who I am becoming. The hacker could take my life’s writing, but he (or she) could never take the character I’ve cultivated and the person I’ve become. My character, who I become, is under my control.
This reminded me of a line that I repeat with the Bridge team over and over again: You cannot control anyone but yourself. You control the world by controlling yourself. It’s a concept I am determined, thought admittedly struggling, to apply to myself, this reality that I cannot control anyone or anything, and that I can only control myself. I make things happen through the level of influence I’m able to impress on others and on my environment.
I am most effective, most in control, when I am, in whatever circumstance, becoming more and more the David that is aligned with my principles. I am, to take from Socrates, being true to the self that I should be, the self I have decided upon examination of my life and the weighing of my values. The beauty of this is that, while it is affected by external factors, it is not dependent on these external factors. How I choose to be shaped by the event and by the experience is within my control.
This in turn led me to think about the moments when I hate myself most, when I feel least in control, or least effective. I am most disgusted with myself when I am not acting according to the values I have embraced. It’s when I find myself becoming more materialistic. It’s when I find myself sinking in pettiness. It’s when I allow myself to get dragged into drama with no objective. It’s when I allow myself to be offended by small minds, or, conversely, don’t allow myself to be challenged by greater minds. It’s when I am not allowing situations to humble me, teach me, improve, strengthen me, and grow me, because of some external pressure or inner pride. I hate myself most when my choices don’t reflect a proper weighing of values but a surrendering to the worse sides of me, which include giving in to both temptations and pressure – even the pressure of seemingly innocent but unprincipled or ignorant people.
My life’s work is my life itself, as seen by the character I am able to cultivate, and that character is under my control. What a freeing thing to realize. And the more I strengthen this, the more I develop my character the more I deepen my soul, the more I grow a value that cannot be taken away from me, a value I am now free to offer the right lover, God.
Last weekend, my site got hacked. And it was a good thing. It was a clear sign to change my blog and move further away from the pop-wisdom that does not show nor cares to measure the actual impact of the teaching. From the “do what you love” posts that are so popular but cannot deny that more supposedly educated people are lost today without purpose, to the financial advisories that have not statistically been able to show greater wealth generation and less inequality despite their best sellers, to the feel-good family experts and their cure-alls that can’t stop the march of broken homes and destruction of meaning in gender and authority, I realized that many of my posts are like theirs, liked but not lived, shared but not imparted. And when the world gets “worse”, when tragedy visits us, our common response is “See? Told you, you should have listened to me” instead of being self-examining and seeing where our methods, or even our messages, have been ineffective.
I don’t write to inspire. I’m not interested in follows, likes, and shares. If my life’s work is the character of my life itself, then to love others, to want them to have amazing lives is to sincerely want them to cultivate wonderful character as well. That’s what I want my writing to help achieve, and it’s the most I can hope for, because the real cultivating, the real impressive hard work, doesn’t happen on this page, but in every person’s inner victories. I don’t just want to say “God loves you” but to also say “You must love God”, and to also say, “you can’t force love but fall in love”, and to also say “you fall for beauty”, and to also say “you fall for that which you make beautiful so be careful what seeds you plant”.
I guess I’m writing for a narrow audience, an audience that won’t be impressed but will be challenged, who won’t simply lap up but ponder, seek God, and pray, who don’t see security and comfort as ultimate ends nor basis for wise decision making. I’m writing for an audience who doesn’t believe in special people: great people who have superhuman capabilities and must be worshiped and lesser people who have disadvantages and must be coddled. I’m writing for a people who believe in being compassionate without believing that people are entitled to compassion. Those are different. I’m writing for people who’ll go on their own journeys to their own who knows where, as I’ve written about in my fictional chapters. I’m writing for people that realize that God gave them a mind to use, not to surrender to the easiest idea to chew on.
In my own private writing, I find that I am more and more convicted, not so much that I do not follow tradition, but that I do not cut-off more superstition. Do I love God? I ask myself, or Do I love convenience and comfort? Do I love what is righteous more than what is expected? What do my prayers reflect?
Last weekend, my site got hacked, and it was a good thing. It affirmed that I am not my writing, but me, and it refocused my efforts on that small number of people who want more than the prescribed lifestyle sweet spot, but on achieving a character that truly glorifies God and uses their God-given freedom to enjoy Him forever.