I was recently in San Francisco during WWDC.1 And, no I wasn’t there as a developer. I’ve considered making a few iOS apps. But, I’ve yet to execute on my ideas. Anyway, that discussion is for another blog post. But I was there to learn some cool stuff and meet some cool people who I only know by their online personality or Twitter handle.2 One such fellow was Lex Friedman. Lex is an interesting guy with an interesting background. He’s also hilarious. But, I was deeply touched by an article he wrote for The Magazine a few issues back.3
After reading his touching article I was determined to meet this man in person. Well, my opportunity arrived at AltWWDC this year.4 He was giving a talk that I thought would easily apply to matters beyond development. So, I rode the BART into The City. I got throughly lost trying to find the Venue (until the good hearted Moisés Chiullan pointed me in the right direction). I sat down for a couple conferences until Lex got up to speak. He was funny and engaging. It was a good talk. I’m happy I made the time to hear it.
After his talk I introduced myself and thanked him for the aforementioned article. He was gracious. Thankfully he didn’t point out my obvious nervousness and inability to form coherent sentences.5 However, he did ask me something I didn’t expect.
It’s not as if he asked me something controversial. He didn’t ask me about one of the profound mysteries of the universe or some obscure philosophical idea. No! Instead he had the audacity to ask, “So, what do you do?” I was stumped. I was stumped! And, I’m still obsessing about it. Why didn’t I know how to answer that question? I’ve been a Dominican long enough to know what I do, who I am. Why did I give him the answer I did? Why did I think of an answer that was really a dodge?
Welcome to the mind of an obsessive personality.
My first response was, “Well I get paid to talk.” And, that’s true as far as it goes. And, it’s an important part of what I do. We are mendicants. My Order survives mostly on the donations. Yeah, there are salaried positions that a few brothers have as Pastors, Professors, and the like. But, donations are primary. In my case, most donations come from free will offerings I collect at speaking venues. Okay, so, the description wasn’t false. However, it’s shallow. It doesn’t, at all, capture what I do as a Dominican Friar.6
But what’s a better response? What is an easy way to explain what I do without some protracted explanation. You know, the sort of explanation that cause people to repeatedly glance at their watches. Explaining what one does should be informative and exciting, not eyeball glaze! What would you say? What could you say that would capture who you are as a person in a short but potent response. See, that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t have a job, properly speaking. I live a peculiar manner of life. I’m consecrated to the Lord. This is what shapes who I am.
My pride wants something witty. I want to articulate what I do in a way that’s inspiring and invites people to ask more questions. But, really my response should be far more simple. Why? My life is no longer my own. My life belongs to Christ and his Church. In short, it’s not about me. It’s about Him.
Next time I get this question I think I’ll simply say: “I try really hard to be an imitator of Christ.”
That should be more than enough. That should be enough for any Christian.
Apple’s major developer conference. If you are a nerd you probably know this. If you are not a nerd you probably don’t care. ↩
It was great meeting all you guys! ↩
This is an alternative developer conference that is held at the same time as WWDC for all those dedicated Mac and iOS developers who didn’t get a ticket to WWDC. ↩
Those who know me will find this fact a little odd and hard to believe. I’m not usually one to be caught flat-footed in a conversation with anyone. But, for some reason this happened to me twice while meeting people during WWDC. ↩
I was tempted to tell him that I was a professional LARPer. ↩