Today, my father came home from work and immediately dragged me away from my room (away from fb).

“We have to discuss an important money issue!”

Like Pavlov’s experiments, a conditioned response of guilt rose up in me at the word “money” as I anticipated another lecture about how I’m using too much of it and that we don’t have enough.

I prepared to apologize, but instead of chastising the misuse of my parents’ money, he talked about possible ways our family can save. He showed me a little spreadsheet he made during work that divided our budget monthly to see where most of the money was going. A large percent of it was going towards purchasing food, not just for our family, but for church parties and gatherings.

I agreed with most of what he was saying and was actually very proud of his motivation, because I always felt like we were buying way too much food, more than we need to eat and more than other people need to eat. The conversation shifted towards my life, and how if I can purchase a house and pay off the mortgage in just 7 years, I can be free to invest my money in Mutual Funds and become a millionaire by the time I retire. “You can retire when you’re 40, probably!” he said excitedly.

The sound of this made my heart sort of drop. Not that I don’t want to be a millionaire, but that plan just sounded so.. ordinary and boring and plain. My dad and I view living very differently. When he grew up, his family became immediately poor because his father passed away when he was in college, thus forcing the aspirations of my father to go down the drain as he decided to pursue engineering in order to further expedite his money-making capabilities. His dream was to become a doctor. Or a pastor. I can see it in his eyes, a tiny sense of regret, but similarly a sense of relief that we (the kids) are well-fed and doing fine. It’s a mixed bag.

To me, I want to live a great adventure. I never imagined for myself that I would want to be adventurous, all this time when I had lived in NOVA. I think I liked to be ordinary, and I wanted to stay just out from under the radar, undetected in a large sense. I wanted to be comfortable and have good friends and a good family. But after getting away from home for a while, after changing my perspective, the life I had imagined for myself previously has irrevocably changed. So when my father explained excitedly that I could be a millionaire and retire early, my eyes clouded over.

He has good intentions. But he just doesn’t understand my perspective. Compared to him, I know that I’m an idiot in this world because I haven’t fully handled being responsible for myself. I should be listening to his advice and learning from his wisdom of life. But I don’t want to merely make a lot of money and lead a comfortable life. More than comfort, I want MEANING. Knowing me, I could probably find meaning in a ladybug’s sneeze, but it’s because I know myself. I know how easily content I can get, and I don’t want that!

Someone told me, I forget who, that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. God is going to guide me ev’ry which way, but I want to collaborate with Him. I think He desires, more than smart investments and banking, an inner character that desires to do what God wants. Even if it’s crazy, and disadvantageous to any normal human being.

Now, I’m not so sure my motives are that pure. I’m not sure if I have been surrendering myself to God’s will, or creating my own will, but I desire the former. I’m at this time in my life where I can’t depend on any one pastor or any one friend or any one Christian group to motivate me to seek God. If I’m going to draw near to God, I need to muster up the discipline and desire to do so and just freakin do it.

The conversation with my father went further.

“So you’ll be working, paying for the mortgage, and then you’ll have to get married in about two years…”

I let out a loud squawk of indignant anger.

“I really don’t think I’m going to get married in two years, dad.” He had a confused expression on his face.

“Okay, three years.”

“I REALLY don’t think I’m going to get married in three years either, dad!”

“But it’s so hard for girls to get married after that,” he said.

My vision started turning all crimson red, and then I argued with him, not allowing him to get in a word. I argued for the sake of all women three years older than myself, I argued for the sake of loved ones I knew who were still unwed, I argued for myself because I could not see the marriage horizon anywhere in sight but I still had to believe and fervently hope that it existed after three years, after 10 years, after a 100 years. After I’ve lived a full, long, single life and had only one year left to survive, but then finally found the one who I was meant to belong to, and it wouldn’t matter how much time we were apart as long as I would find him eventually.

“Are you crying?” my dad asked me after I was done.

I feel like my dad views a relationship like an investment. That might not be entirely fair on his part, because my dad is a kind, gentle, loving human who wants me to find the right person and values my feelings. But it’s like, if I don’t invest in the next three years, my value will decrease and I will become less desirable to males, compared to younger females. And I hate that mentality. I hate that formula expression, because you can’t predict anything in life. That kind of thinking leaves no time for space or hope.

I watched WALL E recently. It’s a movie about this robot who gets left behind on earth for 700 years to clean up the garbage from overpopulation and pollution. You can imagine after 700 years, the robot develops a personality and also discovers his own loneliness. A new robot, EVE, gets dropped off, and he falls in love with her and actively follows after her, in hopes to have his love returned.

Even though they’re only robots, I couldn’t help but cry, watching the tenderness. Why can’t I find my own Walle? Or rather, when? Where? How? Or should I just resign to the investments I need to be making in life?

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