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Ben Nadel at the jQuery Conference 2010 (Boston, MA) with: Mike Alsup
Ben Nadel at the jQuery Conference 2010 (Boston, MA) with: Mike Alsup ( @malsup )

One Man's Search For Love - My cf.Objective() 2011 Lightning Talk

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Tonight, I gave my Lightning Talk at cf.Objective(). With 20 slides, it was a 6:40min retrospective on the role that Love has played in my life; and, how my perception of love has evolved from something magical into something extermely empowering and deeply meaningful. While I don't have a recording of the live talk, here is a pre-recorded version of the slides with audio.


One Man's Search For Love - Ben Nadel's cf.Objective() Lightning Talk.  

I wanted to give special thanks to all the people who came up afterward and gave me hugs :) The ColdFusion community rocks! And also thanks for some of the outstanding feedback on Twitter - you guys totally made my conference!

Reader Comments


Hi Ben,

it was a good speech.

Let me tell you one thing there are love everywhere around you and you might not notice. give your love to someone loves you more in other words find the person who loves you and give your love.


I am so proud. Look how far you've come speaking. I mean, the topic was great, but you have to admit you aren't the shy kid speaking any longer. You've arrived.


A touching sermon, but out of place. CfObjective shouldn't be self serving... a place where you can show your "fans" what you know about love or how far you've come as a speaker. My boss refused to pay the expense to send me there. His decision was justified by the looks of it.

Discuss how to break beyond the understood boundaries of the language. How to innovate... until then, CF will continue to struggle because of decisions like these. Touching, but egotistical and ill-fitting.


It was a good talk. LTs were a load a fun - you get a bunch of technical and non-technical topics all in just a few minutes.

Topper, you really don't know what you're missing, so please don't be annoying because there was one little thing you don't care for. The LTs are like extra stuff that just makes the conference fun - you don't have to attend it, they occurred after the presentations and after dinner. As for being self-serving, i disagree there too, and I was just happy that we got Ben to talk at all. The content was good and funny and came off really well. It was not out of place, there were other discussions about love, adopting, CF applications, technical rants, and on and on. It's just people's hobbies, and it was great. The conference is still insanely technical, i find it helps a great deal to add some fun to the mix.



To be fair, the Lightning Talks are not part of the actual conference. They are held after hours and certainly are optional for attendance. Although, they were expanded this year in terms of speakers due to popular demand. So, please don't think that the conference is starting to get all touchy-feely :) It's still the best enterprise ColdFusion conference around.

It sounds like you're just frustrated about not being able to come; and I don't blame you. It's unfortunate that your boss isn't chipping in to send you here. Not everyone has the ability to look past the cost and see the real value that comes out being blasted with so much high-end technical information. I come out of this conference feeling wicked inspired. Some of these guys just seem mind-blowingly smart.

And, to be honest, I put my hotel cost on my credit card ;) I'll pay that off soon enough. But, I only bring this up to say that I am making some sacrifices to get here. It's is definitely worth it.


Thanks Dee :D You are too kind.


Word up - it's just a great time. And, it truly goes to build the "community" aspect of the ColdFusion community. We get to go past just the cool technical stuff and learn more about each other as people.


Just watched this, Ben. Not much to say except: Thank you for articulating your revelations in an unabashed way. It's always funny how a crazy idea, clearly defined, makes cognitive sense. The next few days will be interesting for me.

Also, in the words of Yoda, "You must unlearn what you have learned." That ought to go straight to the Princess Bride point. Good stuff, man.


One of the best teachings I've ever heard talked about how we use the word love in the wrong context. Like "I love ice cream", meaning "I really strongly like ice cream".

So when someone uses the word love for "I strongly like this person", then when circumstances change, people fall out of love.

This teaching went on to say that love is giving (for God so loved the world that He gave...).

I like your conclusion that it's the expression of what's inside of you.

Hey! Wasn't there a book not too longer ago saying that love is the killer app? I wonder what that was all about?



Thanks! I find it very satisfying to examine my life and try to pick apart how I think about things. It just makes me more conscious about all my actions - which, will hopefully allow me to be more effective in my actinos going forward.


Hopefully next time :)


"Love is the killer app"?? I don't know what you're referring to, but I like it!!


Aw, @Topper, sounds like some big teddy bear needs a good ol' fashioned man hug! Bring it on in here buddy, c'mon...that's it. :) Ah, now isn't that all better? Go ahead, let it out my man. That's what friends are for, no shame in just gettin' it on out there on the table. you big lug, you! :)


@Ben -

This is really well thought out and well presented; congratulations! The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis takes a specifically Christian approach to discussing love, but it reaches many of the same insights you have. You might be interested.


Ben, I think its great that people become disallusioned with doing the done thing, and start to think about their life. To me this sounded like what you are trying to put across. The fact that you stood up and said it at an unrelated conference is interesting and to be applauded.

When it come to defining love the biggest problem we have in the modern western world is that our language (english) lumps what are essentially three different things into one word.

In ancients time we would have used the word Eros to describe the type of love between a man and a woman. You would not have said "i love that woman" but "i eros that woman" and Philos to describe the love found in simple friendship. The greatest type of love is when we do good to others without seeking in anything in return. This was what was know as Agape, and is the type of love the Bible, and Jesus Christ refers to.

Sorry for mentioning the J-word but even if you don't believe he is God, his teachings and way of life are the perfect reference for Agape. Not an easy path to follow i have to say but there is tremendous freedom in it.

Hope this helps in some way.



Excellent explanation of the different words defining love. I would only add the biblically speaking, since God is a just God, we CAN expect the "value" back, just not directly from the person we gave it to. The bible explains that love is profitable, therefore, we MUST get the value back as well as more. The source of this return though will be God on his time, rather than the person you gave to and their timeframe. by God though.

For more detail I would suggest you check out the following (not mine)


Very good presentation. Wish I could have seen the live one.




I've followed your blog for a while now, it gives off great nachas, and I love it when you blur the line between programming and humanism. It's refreshing and not many people do it. Two of my coworkers were at the cf.objective and heard you speak to this live, and I wonder what of it followed them home, other than the novelty of one of CF's beloved personalities defying expectations and riffing on a non-programming topic.

@Paul - I preface my comment by identifying myself as a religious Jew. The irony about your comment of Western language's limitations upon conceptual variants of love is that in the time of Jesus, the same linguistic "constraints" existed in Hebrew/Aramaic (and still do). Objectively, I've long felt the Christian understanding of love is derivative of that Greek delineation rather than anything rooted in Torah - perhaps a consequence of Christianity developing largely amongst the Hellenized Jewish/gentile hybrid communities. The same word for love that I ascribe for my wife, and for my fellow Jew (ahavat Yisroel - which would fit philos conceptually), is the same word that by a religious standard, we apply to G-d, in that we love (v'ahavta) G-d with all our heart, our mind, our might, and if a single catch-all word was good enough for G-d in antiquity, it's tough to understand why the lack of Hellenic compartmentalization in modern Western language is a problem. Leave it to programmers to look for Strongly Typed love!

I came from the military to programming in 1998, with ColdFusion and ASP, and continued with frequent reserve duty up until this past month. I tend to template my code-work ethic by the visceral experiences in my previous line of work, a Hobbes-ian "life is brutish and short," and the simple response is to demonstrate the value you hold for those people and things (and esoteric concepts) you value, and try to find ways to value the ones you don't. It's a concept that applies to banal applications of love (forbidden bacon cheeseburgers, romantic love, camaraderie), only with varying levels of vigor and priority ascribed.

Keep up the great work, dear Ben, you're a bright light in the programming community.



Awwwww...I wish I could've been there, and wish even more I could've presented. It sounds like such fun...maybe some day!!!

@Paul Stewart

love your discussion of the different types of love. I believe this is the correct link which delves into that further:

And also, I must say...the meaning of eros does go a little beyond the simple mere love between a man and a woman...very specifically, eros is the love of physical touch, and I think you know what I mean here without having to really say it (if I did, I would probably get flagged as inappropriate content, which I realize might happen anyway due to the link I posted above). But I promise, none of this is inappropriate or off-topic, or any different or farther away from what is already discussed here in other comments...

And further, the love between a man and a woman, especially the pure love between a man and a woman, is much more complex than just one type or part. Often, you have a mix, and for it to be true, complete, and pure love, there has to be some agape there. I mean, sure, you could totally and completely only feel eros for your man or woman, but that would be a completely unfullfilling relationship, and only about the would be a relationship based on purely physical attraction only.

I love the distinctions people make between love-as-a-noun and love-as-a-verb. I love you with all of my heart...that implies an action there. And with that comes actions, actions of love. I have love for you. That, obviously, is using love in the noun sense. Unfortunately, when people think of love as a noun and use it in that context, it is often used more selfishly...more as in...what can I have, what can I achieve or get that makes ME feel better, not what can I do to make this other person feel joy. And often, people think more along the lines of, "what can this other person do for ME that will make ME feel better/good..."...not the other way around.

My first "love" ever was an angel. He was pure of heart, and he gave with all he had. His concern was not, "what can she do for me", but "what can I do to make her feel loved." Unfortunately, this set a very high and unattainable precedent for me, and spoiled me. It is unfortunate not because it in itself was a bad thing, but because it just created a huge disappointment after it was over at the inability to find it again. And it is VERY hard these days to find that kind of thing. And who knows? Maybe it's been this way since the beginning of time. It doesn't seem so, but who really knows? I wasn't alive back then.

To be fair, he didn't think about, "OH...what if I do this and she doesn't give back, is this going to cause me to get hurt." He didn't think about that at all...because he was so focused on his making it great for me. And also, getting to the "to be fair" part, he really didn't have to. Becauase of the fact that he was this way, I of course had no other course of action other than to return the same to him. I couldn't prevent that from happening. When someone loves you like that, you would have to be a cold-hearted person with no feelings for your fellow man whatsoever to stay with that person and not return the same. If you are incapable, the most humane thing to do is just to tell them you are sorry, you just don't return the same feelings and walk away. But I don't really know how any woman could ever refuse it, having experienced it.

If I ever found anything like that ever wouldn't matter how ugly, how poor, how unsuccessful...WHATEVER people find unattractive these wouldn't matter...I would stick with it, and I would return in like. Because that in itself is worth having and worth doing practically anything for. I seriously doubt I'd ever find that again, but if I did...

And in using the above adjectives...ugly, poor, successful...I am not implying by any means that only a person who can be described in that manner can love like that, nor am I saying I think if I ever find it again that it would be by someone who can also be described in those ways. He could be handsome, rich, successful, etc., and totally and completely into me as well. But I'm just saying that to emphasize the fact that when you have the love like that, it's the kind of thing where nothing else matters. When you have that, the person is beautiful to you in every way, no matter what they truly look like.

@Phillip Senn: I love your discussion on this topic, and I had something else to say about it when I first read it, but I forgot. Except going back to my point about the noun vs. verb thingy...Loving the icecream is definitely like the noun thing. You are likely not going to do some action to/for the icecream (besides eating it), and the whole thing about the icecream is about making YOU feel good, not bringing joy to another person.

I'll leave with this (since I do have some work that needs to be done): When you love someone, or at least, when I love someone, you do experience the noun feeling love, quite a bit...but it's not what it is ALL about. But that other love to see the joy in their face as they are finding happiness and excitement in life. It warms your heart to see that. You enjoy just watching them and just watching them enjoy life, because that brings so much happiness to you. You wake up at the start of every day, trying to think of things that you can do to make their world a better place and bring joy into their life. You have a life of your own, but as you go through it, there really isn't a thing you do where your thoughts don't drift to them at some point, at least, while you are doing whatever it is you are doing. And likely, you are doing it, at least partly, for them. It is a is a HUGE risk, but that is a part of the love. That person could tell you they don't feel the same, they could tell you to get lost. They could leave you. Or worse, they could use you up and then leave you. Or, they could simply use you. And you do least a little bit, but it's like a freight train, and you can't stop it. It's like you are in automatic mode. You do it, simply because it is the course of action you and your body follows. It's like it simply is. You know, the love? You can't really deny it, because if you did, it'd still be there, underneath it all. True, you could fall for someone in this way and it be a totally wrong and bad decision. That person could be the type of person who is evil and would take advantage of you and use you, etc. And in that case, you would have to try to walk away from it. But even then, it'd still be there. For awhile, maybe, or maybe if you are unlucky, forever. But it would still be there. You would have to fight the urge to do those things that would bring joy to that person's life. And over time, it would become easier. And over time, you might find someone who loves you the same way you had loved that other person. And, if you are lucky, you would be able to love that person back, return that love, and find a mutual love for another person that was pure and sweet and perfect.

Ok...back to work...



hmmm - "you love to see the joy in their face as they are finding happiness and excitement in life."

But would you still feel like this if the person dumped you? If a person can do this i would say that is agape if not then i'd say they are experiencing eros. They want something in return from the person for their affections. They want or need their affections.

I would not say eros is all about the physical, but it's definately reciprocal. Agape is not. I think that's the difference.


@Pauk Stewart

true, but I would argue that of course I would feel sadness by being dumped by a person I love...sadness at the lost opportunity. Sadness at not having the chance to develop something great out of something that was, most likely, at least pretty good. Sadness that this person didn't see the wonderful qualities in me that I obviously saw in him. And of course, over missing him and possibly being a much less part of his life. And I am sure there are other reasons I would feel sadness. At the same time, I would feel true joy, if at some later date, this person found someone they truly loved and could be happy with. And I would also be willing to admit it if he and I simply weren't right for each other. You can love someone without them being right for you. And although I felt sad, to some extent, I would find contentment in the fact that we were doing the right thing for us, if we weren't meant to be together. yes, I can get emotional. Yes, I can feel sad and a loss, and I can also feel lonely at times and even heartbroken. At the same time, if I truly love another person, I want what is best for them, and if that's not me, I want them to find it.

Case in point: I chat with my ex now and then on a fairly regular basis, and I have recently discovered that he is getting engaged soon. I am truly excited and happy for him, because I loved him at one point, and therefore, I still want him to find joy and love in the world. I do still love him, on a different level, and therefore, I can't feel bad about the fact that he is moving on and has found someone who can make him happy. If I can't make a man happy, I want him to find someone who can.

Another example: I had a huge, deep crush on the first guy I ever liked. I became deeply involved with him on levels I can't even explain. But he has already married and had kids with this other girl. I saw them recently at this spring fest thing in my hometown. I was really, truly happy for him.

Again, another guy I went out with at one point is getting married, also. I am so happy for him, and am actually invited to the wedding, he says. I really can't wait to watch him marry and will feel nothing but joy as he looks the woman he loves in the face and says his vows to him.

It is possible to be happy for someone who you had very deep feelings for, even love, when they find someone else and/or dump you, even though the sadness over missing that person is, in fact there. Sometimes sharp, but a part of your feelings is also happiness as well...


As a ColdFusion/JS Developer, I've always admired Ben's unique approach to how to make one's code shine... And I'm thankful for his blog here ...

As someone who has had his fair share of relationships that have lasted shorter than I have had with say, a carton of milk... I have to admire his courage to talk about love. I realized some five years ago that my approach to love was completely irrational and was not allowing me to reach my full potential for myself... Especially considering that my now ex-wife was also not interested in becoming everything she could be, or letting me do the same.

I have since moved on, and re-married and am in a relationship that allows both of us to become who we aspire to be. In my case, not only a movie geek and ColdFusion coder but happy.

Ben, I admire what you've done... thank you for bringing this part of you out to us... And thank you for sharing.



I came looking for a little help in ColdFusion, but found something much more profound! Really great presentation, very insightful. And I have to say, one of the best explanations of what love is that I've ever heard.


Dude. Just wait until you are in your 50s. It gets deeper and better and more powerful the longer you go. Of course, my 80-something grandfather says the same thing to me...

Great talk. Thanks, as always.

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel