Who Am I?

A cooler morning today. More fall-like, more in tune with the expectations of the season. When I left the comfort of my home I was met with 50 degrees of briskness. It felt right.

I don’t usually plan what I write about, I typically hope for some sort of inspiration. This morning my thoughts were cluttered, none able to gel into a ball of coherence that could be expanded into a missive.

If there was one theme it would be, “Who am I at 64.” I’m not sure beyond a laundry list of titles: father, husband, friend, doctor… none seem to define me very well, likely because many of them are in transition.

The other day I told Julie  of my inability to be. It is almost impossible for me to not be productive. I always feel an internal push to do something. I always have a need to justify my existence. I don’t attach a “good” or “bad” valence to this quality. With that said, there are times when I wish that I could just shut it off and be.

And so it is with my next chapter of my life. In two and one-half months I will enter phase one of my retirement. What will become of me?

In the 10 plus years of planning, I have held onto the idea of returning to my creative roots. Writing, taking photographs, teaching. As I approach phase one these goals start to seem like folly. I can certainly do them, but will they have any meaning if no one connects with them? I don’t think that this is grandiosity on my part. Rather, my practical mind sees little point in expending energy that doesn’t have a purpose.

Problems that I thought that I solved years ago present new. Should I travel for inspiration? How do I connect with strangers and convert them into friends? What should I write about? Should I pick commercially viable topics, or should I write from my soul? How much should I reveal about myself? How vulnerable can I be?

At the moment I am trying the “blunt instrument” approach. I take photographs, I write, I make videos, I do podcasts. I hope that one of these outlets will catch fire with me. That somehow the act of doing will show me the course to follow. That my actions will have meaning.

At 64 I still want to change the world. There is an urgency to this idea, combined with the reality of my life. If I haven’t changed it during the majority of my life how can I change it with the minority remaining?

To be honest with you dear reader, I’m not even sure what that change would be. The themes that flow through me today include: tolerance towards others, understanding others, the common core of humanity, our planet… the list goes on. I chuckle as I read my list. Still altruistic. Still a little boy trying to do something big. Still holding on to what the nuns said, “Michael, God has plans for you.”

My time is running out. I should have acted sooner. I should have been braver. I should have been stronger.

Dear reader, if you have read this entire piece, I thank you. My writings aren’t three sentences of inspiration. They don’t have the funny punch line of a meme. The don’t polarize you and force you on one side of the fence or the other.

When you read my writings you enter the mind of a common man who thinks and wonders, “Why am I here? Is success based on how many marbles that I have at the end of the game? How many friends have I acquired? How many papers that I have published? Sadly, this common man doesn’t know the answer to these questions, even after 64 years of thinking about them.

For now, I’ll keep hacking away with my blunt instruments, if only because I have no other tools at my disposal.

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