Jack O'Brien
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Jack O'Brien

The Tree of Life

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About Him

Grew Up… in a suburb of Waco, Texas with his mother, father, and two younger brothers. Jack’s view of the world, and his sense of place within it, has been molded by his parents and his upbringing. His mother’s gentle and kind approach to child-rearing has urged him to see the world as a wondrous place, while his father’s stern, authoritarian attitude has forced him to understand the world in business-like, material terms. Jack’s whole life has presented him with this dichotomy of survival versus spirit, or as his mother puts it: “the way of nature and the way of grace.”

Living… in the big city, in a beautiful, modern home. Jack is listless and adrift. He often reflects on the untimely death of his brother, R.L., whom he misses very much. He speaks with his parents regularly, but, as in childhood, he sometimes butts heads with his dad.

Profession… architect. Jack is well-paid, and gets along well enough with his colleagues, but isn’t deeply satisfied by his work. His life is comfortable, and his profession has an air of importance about it, yet he doesn’t seem to be any better off for it emotionally. Jack is successful but unhappy.

Interests… nothing anymore. As a boy Jack was interested in the things many boys like: playing with BB guns, swimming, setting off bottle-rockets with friends. As an adult, however, Jack’s work, marriage, and life in general seem to roll along without any zeal or passion.

Relationship Status… unhappily married.

Challenge… overcoming the painful loss of his brother, and finding his way in life. Jack is searching for answers and meaning in a world that seems to offer none. He feels lost and conflicted. Jack’s lived a significant chunk of his life and still has no better understanding of his purpose than he had the day he was born – he needs to cull some kind of meaning out of a world that seems random and corrupt.

Personality… conflicted, rebellious, and angst-ridden. Jack is angry with God. After the death of a young friend, Jack protests: “Where were you? You let a boy die. You let anything happen. Why should I be good when you aren't?”

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