Thursday, November 06, 2014

Geek Me

That title is not an imperative sentence. It is a description. It is who I am.

I am a geek.

I love all forms of geekiness. Computer games, comic books, action figures, Dungeons and Dragons, sci-fi movies and television shows. I am a broad based geek.

How did it start? How far back does it go? Where did it all begin?

This is my origin story.

I don't remember much about my childhood. There are scraps here and there. I remember traumatic events. I remember a few mistakes. There aren't many "happy" memories. I don't know why that is. It is one more thing I'm sure a therapist could help me discover.

But there are some things I do remember. Geek things.

I remember television shows that were my favorites: Superfriends, Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Battlestar Galactica. Batman, Space: 1999.  Star Trek, the original series is one I don't remember watching.

I remember movies that I watched: Star Wars, Buck Rogers (yeah, it was movie first), Planet of the Apes, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I remember reading comic books.

I remember action figures.

And all of these were in the 1970's. I was born in December of 1970. Those 10 years, especially later in the decade, I was conditioned toward being a geek. And my Mom doesn't know how it happened. But it did. Those were the things that I felt the most attraction to.

When the '80's rolled around, I retreated into my own little world. Atari in the early years (really through most of the decade) and desktop computers from the middle of the 80's helped develop my geek lifestyle. I also became a barely functional introvert. I wasn't interested in social interaction. I found my comfort in the solitude of my room and my thoughts.

I also was weird.

I wasn't like anyone I knew. Most of the people around me were outgoing, socializers. They were interested in playing basketball or baseball. I didn't find anything interesting in those pursuits. I would rather read a comic book or play a video game. My closest friends were my action figures. Not that they were real to me, but they were alive through my imagination. I could express my thoughts, build worlds, create stories, that no one else seemed interested in.

When I went off to college, I began to encounter people I could relate to. They had similar interests. I found I could socialize with them because we shared a common language. I grew a lot in college. I went from being a barely functional introvert to a functional introvert. I learned to interact with people that I didn't have that same interests. But in a closet in the back part of my mind the geek was still alive and well.

After college, I accepted three churches, got married, and moved off to seminary. I felt that the geek needed to grow up. The things of comfort I relied upon had to be put away. Culture was telling me that a geek is acceptable only to a certain point in life. After you cross a certain line, you have to grow up and become a normal, functioning, mature adult. So, outside of reading for pleasure and television shows in the privacy of my home, I became a closet geek. To the rest of the world, I tried to fit into their expectations or what they needed me to be.

When I graduated seminary and began ministry as a full-time lifestyle, being a geek was not helpful. Most people I encountered were older adults who wanted a somewhat serious adult minister. Being a "man-child" wasn't acceptable. They had serious lives to live and wanted a serious pastor to relate to them. The geek was not allowed out anymore. The only exception was when people had computer or technology problems. It's okay to be a geek when someone can't program a VCR or their computer is wonky. But keep your comic books and fantasy stories out of sight.

There were friends, ministry friends usually, who shared the passion. But I wasn't in a place to build a community with those colleagues. I lived out a life of isolation. My wife was understanding and allowed me to be the geek I could be in the home. But she is isn't a geek. It isn't her lifestyle. So I couldn't share that with her.

So what? Why all of this emotional baggage?

Because I have had to accept that I am not going to be like the people who are around me. I still do not like sports. I don't like nature. I am not interested in politics or so many other things that drive the conversations around me. I am a geek. I will not change. Accepting me is a choice others have to make. But I accept who I am. I like being a geek. I don't want to change and wouldn't if I was given the means.

What will follow from this is that you will hear a lot more geekiness from me. You may not be interested in those things. You may not be interested in this part of my life. But it is who I am.
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