I was born and raised in London, Ontario, Canada. I currently work in London as a litigation lawyer and raise my three sons with my beautiful partner. I also co-write a blog about practical philosophy and personal growth, professional development and career advice, and parenting and relationships.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
Love. For me, home is not necessarily a static, or even physical space. Home is wherever we are with the people we love and who love us. Home is where we find our true selves, where we can truly be ourselves. To me, home is the greatest thing.
What turns you on creatively?
My creative inspiration and motivation has always been the pursuit of becoming the best man I can be and the best father and mentor I can be for my sons. It flows from my desire to teach my boys what it means to be a man moving through this world, and from my struggles as I attempt to do just that. My muse, on the other hand, is my love, my warrior queen, my partner. Watching her shine her light on this world challenges me to attempt to do the same.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
A warrior is not simply one who will fight. A warrior is one who will always do what’s right. A warrior is not afraid to shine his inner light. A warrior is loving, his heart is his might.
What is your pet peeve?
Paradoxically, my pet peeve is the constant outpouring of complaint and criticism we hear from everyone around us about the most trivial of annoyances. We all have so much for which we can and should be grateful. To focus our energy and attention not on the beautiful blessings of this life, but on the minor aggravations, misses the point of this miracle we are living.
What defines Jacob Damstra?
Work in Progress. I find it difficult to believe that any of us can truly be defined, as if some static concept that will mean that same thing now as it did ten years ago, or a decade from now. I suppose that Jacob Damstra, like all others, could be defined as uncertainty, change, movement, and – hopefully – growth. We are so frequently defined in society by our occupations (lawyer and writer), by our relationships with others (father, son, brother, partner, friend), or by our engagement with the world through service or hobbies (athlete, gardner, Armed Forces Officer, non-profit advisor and director, coach). If I was forced to define “Jacob Damstra” though, I would do so by looking at the values to which he has committed and by which he attempts to live. I’ve defined “Values” in my Contemplations as follows:
Values are like a guiding light, the North Star: illuminating our way and guiding our direction through this world. Values are 100% necessary and infinitely useful if we want to go anywhere in our lives worth going, to do anything with our lives worth doing. One’s values are principles on which one bases every decision, no matter how big or small, no matter how important or insignificant. One’s values give comfort and solace when the struggles we face bear down, when it is difficult to see how to move forward, when we question why we are here or begin to judge, criticize, or even hate ourselves. Values give us strength to conquer the struggles, determination to overcome the difficulties, and permission to love ourselves through it all. Values are a filter for our choices. They limit the available decisions to make or actions to take to those which align with one’s values; filtering out any option that is not in alignment with the values we hold. This refining process has the effect of eliminating overwhelm, fatigue, and paralysis by analysis.
And I have specifically committed to live a life in pursuit of nine Values, which I can briefly summarize as follows:
Humility is a foundational value. It is the realization that we are imperfect beings, always with more to learn and ever-subject to things outside of our control. Humility is the balance-point between Ego and Resistance.
Gratitude is the second foundational value. It is an overarching, sometimes overwhelming, thankfulness that you are alive, healthy, and able to contribute positively to the world, not taking for granted any day or any little gift life gives you. Gratitude is the balance point between Entitlement and Ineffectuality.
Integrity is the third foundational value. It is doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching; it is being loyal, honest, and true to your principles and values regardless of temptation. Integrity is the balance point between Duplicity and Fantasy.
Respect is a relational value. It is the recognition that we are all, every single human being, ourselves and others, worthy of being treated well, always. Respect is the balance point between Contempt and Delusion.
Teamwork is the second relational value. It is working together in relentless service of a goal or purpose greater than what each individual member could hope to achieve on their own. Teamwork is the balance point between Selfishness and Dependence.
Service is the third relational value. It is committing to making every choice, every course of action or inaction make the world better, make others better, or make oneself better. Service is the balance point between Greed and Submissiveness.
Logic is an operational value. It is the fulfilment of one’s duty to use reason to free oneself from reliance on others for answers to the questions they have; from accepting the default; from the status quo; from conventional wisdom; from anything which doesn’t make sense, which isn’t optimal, or which doesn’t serve us. Logic is the balance point between Irrationality and Paralysis.
Relentlessness is the second operational value. It is never giving up on a just cause, never backing down from a worthy effort because it is challenging or hard, never letting fear or doubt or the Resistance take hold and prevent you from learning, growing, and progressing. Relentlessness is the balance point between Timidity and Inflexibility.
Courage is the third operational value. It is allowing yourself to feel the fear or anxiety induced by a certain course of action and to take that course and do that action anyway, living life at the end your comfort zone. Courage is the balance point between Cowardice and Recklessness.
Jacob is a father of three, a litigation lawyer, a coach, a volunteer, a writer, and a poet. He is the co-founder and co-contributer of a blog called Contemplations, which shares thoughts, advice, and reflections on Personal Growth & Practical Philosophy, Professional Development & Career Advice, and Parenting & Relationships, as well as a poem or poetic prose.