Beyond The Pale

On Goals, Update 1

This is going to be my first evolving post. I expect it to change from time to time as things develop. I’ve been thinking lately, and while I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I do believe that it is good to have a certain set of goals that range from daily to monthly to long-term single goals. So here are some of the goals that I’m either currently working toward or intend to enact when I get back to the States and my life settles down a little bit:


  • Eat 13 out of 14 days according to a strict Paleo diet with tendencies toward Zone portions.
  • Read from the Bible.
  • Sleep at least 7 hours.
  • Work out 3 out of 4 days, mostly following workouts that conform to the standards of the Crossfit program with exceptions made for strength and endurance training.
  • Write in my journal.
  • Read all interesting articles in my news feed.
  • Eat a meal, at a table, with Andrea.
  • Learn something.


  • Fast one day.
  • Dedicate at least 1 hour to career related study.
  • Watch a movie that I consider to have value.
  • Write at least one blog post.
  • Take Andrea on a date.
  • Have a couple or a group of friends over for dinner.
  • Post a good quotation in my facebook notes page.


  • Read one novel that has absolutely no intentional value.
  • Read one classic. If this classic is over 800 pages, it may be divided between two months.
  • Deprive myself on one entire night’s sleep for the purpose of study or prayer.
  • Engage in one act of premeditated civil disobedience.
  • Start at least one good argument on facebook.
  • If possible, take a weekend or day trip with a couple that Andrea and I would like to become closer with.
  • Read one book related to either my academic field of composition and rhetoric studies or my hobby of physics.


  • Visit my Ohio Family.
  • Visit my Missouri Family.
  • Meet up, even if it means flying or driving long distance, with someone important from my past.


  • Read the Bible in its entirety.
  • Fast three consecutive days.
  • Camp at least one week with Andrea.
  • Do at least a overnight trip on the Appalachian trail.
  • Post my yearly reading list.
  • Reevaluate this list.


  • Make some babies with Andrea.
  • Get into a Ph.D. program.
  • Write a book worth reading, even if it never gets published.
  • Hike the Appalachian trail entirely at a go.
  • Acquire 4 chickens and two goats.
  • Become a civilian.

As I said, this list should change as time goes on, so I expect to see it popping back up at the top of this blog list occasionally. If there is anything that those of you who know my worldview think should be on this list, please let me know, and I’ll consider if it fits in with what I’m trying to make of myself.


Rachel Browder, one of my oldest friends, pointed out in a comment that I had forgotten to list goals of the most personal, possibly most important nature, those of the way that I exist relationally with other humans, and I’m going to add some points above to the lists, but I think that I also need to include something of a caveat about why I’m hesitant to add relationships into this list. First off, I’m happy with the relationships I have. I have Andrea on the local level. I have Jonathan on some weird not-present but always with me level. I have my family. These need to go onto the list.

I’m leery of new friendships. I love deeply. I’ve loved Jason, Jeremy, Lanie, Adam, Sara, Derek, and many others. Of the people who I’ve loved, there are only two with whom I’m still in contact, sorta, Rachel and Israel, and with both of them, the contact is tenuous at best. My life is in a constant state of flux, and I don’t want to build strong friendships again until I find a place where those friendships can be given the chance to grow and mature. I make friends, and I feel deeply for them, and while I know that this isn’t healthy, for the time being, I’ll pass.

Let me provide an example: Not long before I joined the Army, I was going through a time of serious hate for Christians. Don’t get me wrong. I was still a believer. I just happened to think, and I still happen to think, that Christians tend to be a bunch of smarmy, self-righteous pricks. But Andrea wanted to join a couples group, and since I had just crested that peak where it was either leave her or make her my life, and I’d decided that she was going to be my life, I figured that the least I could do was go tolerate her smarmy prick church friends for two hours once a week. They liked sports. I liked books. They talked following commandments. I talked about following conscience. They had kids. We wanted kids. You see where this is going: nothing in common. Within a month, I never wanted to leave Springfield because I wanted time to grow those relationships. I left. Those relationships are gone, though I hope to see those people and feel really awkward next time I’m in Springfield.

The same happened in Monterey.

And the same will happen in Fayetteville.

And the same will happen in Florida.

We tear off these little pieces of ourselves to give to people, and then we leave, and those pieces are gone, leaving only the hole where they had been.

This is why my original post didn’t have anything about relationships.


December 18, 2009 - Posted by | Goals


  1. I see some good goals here. Allow me to echo my favorites. Read from the Bible (and yearly in its entirety). Learn something. Fast once weekly (and three days consecutively once a year). Take Andrea on a date. One good Facecbook argument. Physics hobby reading. Week camping avec Andrea. Reevaluate this list. Make babies. Write book. Chickens and goats. Become a civilian who hangs out with Jonathan (I annotated this last part).

    Comment by wordorgy | December 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. Love it.

    I especially like the licensing of staying up an entire night for work or study. I do this occasionally (lately it’s been for reading) and always feel guilty and find myself trying to talk me into stopping and going to sleep. But it seems to be a part of my nature and so maybe I should just embrace it like you are.

    One request: will you blog about your civil disobedience and fasting?

    Comment by xgravity23 | December 12, 2009 | Reply

    • You are lucky that it happens naturally. It used to happen naturally for me. I remember that I read all night several times in college for fun and pulled probably 20 allnighters during those 8 years, but now, when I do it, it will be more of an exercise in discipline than indulgence. I love my sleep. Still I think that our bodies should be our tools and not the other way around, hence the desperate attempts to get away from tobacco (not going so well). Either way, reading all night is great. May I recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and also Anathem?

      Comment by davidjgross | December 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. Probably not actually. Fasting is an intensely personal thing between the faster and God. I might discuss it in the form of expressing why it is important, but I don’t think I’ll narrate or anything like that. As for civil disobedience, I’ll blog about that in three years when I’ve finished off the last of my long terms goals.

    Comment by davidjgross | December 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. Yes, we must know about the civil disobedience.

    Aside from your dates/camping/baby-making with Andrea, you have not incorporated any other relational goals (other than creating mayhem on FB). Would you consider a goal to develop new friendships or cultivate existing ones? 1 Cor. 13–what is knowledge/understanding without love? I have found a new depth of God’s love for his people (or glimpses of it) through pursuing intentional relationships. If we are to be like Jesus, or strive to be, how better to reflect his life than by loving?

    Obviously, it’s up to you how to make that measurable.

    Comment by Rachel B. | December 12, 2009 | Reply

  5. I completely understand. Totally and completely.

    Comment by Rachel B. | December 18, 2009 | Reply

  6. “We tear off these little pieces of ourselves to give to people, and then we leave, and those pieces are gone, leaving only the hole where they had been.”

    -How sad, David. Isn’t it possible that the hole that is left is filled with the joy and memories of the dear friends that we have had the good fortune of knowing? Even though we are no longer close, my life is better because of knowing you. You seem to mourn these past relationships as if you or the other party has died. To the contrary, a phone call, e-mail, facebook post, or a visit can reignite old friendships.

    Comment by Dan H. | December 18, 2009 | Reply

  7. Dan,

    I would argue my point again about the reality of those mediums. I think it is impossible to continue intimate relationships without a (semi-)regular face-to-face encounter. Like only seeing a reversed image in the mirror, or seeing someone always through a veil, it’s not an accurate picture of a loved one, only a reflection of their true self; it won’t substitute for a true friendship.

    I don’t want to speak for David, but I’ll speak for myself. I identify with his words in the way that when you open your heart to others, you end up losing some blood in the process. You can’t get that back. It’s really a dangerous position, and memories alone will not fill those holes.

    Personally, I mourn losing the dearest friends of my childhood, not because those friends are dead, but because you were such a part of my life that I feel less of a person because you aren’t still part of it (you, your real self). Our pasts are so intwined that our hearts nearly grew together (this I feel toward you, and David and Israel). -At some point, did we draw a line in the sand and decide to go one way or another with our without each other?- It’s hard for me to know new people without being able to share some of my personal past; when I share my heart and true self with others, they get pieces of you (in a very weird, filtered way).

    As children we didn’t guard our hearts so carefully; we were naturally ourselves. As we’ve grown to adults, and as we’ve lost bits of ourselves to those who haven’t treasured us, we begin to close ourselves off and protect what we now realize is terribly valuable. Self-preservation isn’t a bad habit. I feel …nostalgic (for lack of a better word) toward the time when it was safe to let my heart grow so closely with the hearts others. I feel sad that those roots, although deep, are no longer flourishing.

    Perhaps, like David, I view my relationships as what I’ve given instead of what I’ve received, which seems to be more your position. When you love so deeply and so loyally, it is rare to find that love returned in nearly the same magnitude. Years of this imbalance don’t often yield positive or hopeful feelings toward future relationships. Maybe there is always a hope, but the reality of life and the constraints of responsibility pose a threatening barrier to the true friendships I long for so deeply.

    One of my biggest hopes in life is to know and be known; after all, weren’t we created to commune? It’s a hard prayer, though, the prayer for an open heart.

    Comment by Rachel B. | December 21, 2009 | Reply

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