Since 3 Old Guys began publishing our blog, some readers have suggested we offer a biography of who we are. In response to that request, we present this blog entry:
I can use labels to identify me from others. Hen, man, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend, dog companion, seventy-two, home owner, …
I can use experiences to describe what I’ve done. Spent years being formally educated, played sports, lived with several long-term partners, sky-dived, taught, coached, befriended, laughed lots, wept, cut and stacked wood, rode sleds, swam, pondered, cleaned, cooked, hiked, biked, played, …
I can use words to describe what I desire. A loving partner, deep friendships, more time outdoors, enlightenment, good health, good instincts from which to make good choices, discipline to improve my writing, …
But who am I? I am aware of the question and aware that it is a question I continue to explore. I am aware that when I step outside of my routine behaviors and observe myself doing an activity, I am a sort of consciousness: an awareness of self separate from that self.
Going back to a more conventional view of who I am and to a description that gives me a visceral connection between spirit and words, I would add the following:
My purpose is to bring my joyful nature, sense of humor, and accumulated wisdom to create opportunities for others to question and identify their (purpose) role in life. I seek to forge intimate, meaningful relationships and to love and support this community of relationships unconditionally.
I am a happy man who wells up with extraordinary joy and excitement, often.
I live fully and with awareness. I am on a journey to unshackle and reaffirm my spirit and soul and want those with whom I come in contact to benefit from my experiences. I strive to increase my acceptance of others through empathetic listening. I have let go of expectations and rather, live life with preferences. I am slowly letting go of resistance, attachment, and judgment.
I am a man with a boy’s spirit and I weave play and adventure and fun in all that I do.
I am passionate about sharing my joy, knowledge, and love of nature and will bring those passions into my relationships with others. As I engage others in areas of leadership and learning, I will remain truthful to my mission and to my authentic self. I will model the importance of respect, truth, self-awareness, and giving my best through my training programs, my daily interactions with clients, friends, and family, and through writing.
Of course I am a work in progress with a known direction and a set of behaviors I subscribe to but have not yet mastered. And I know I will not “master” them. My intention is to remind myself to practice them with the goal of improvement. That is all I can ask of myself. And as long as I move in this direction and keep myself aware, I am content. It is who I am.
Oak and Olive
Hen, your introduction starts from a challenge posed by Michael Singer in The Untethered Soul to really examine the premise of who you are. I read yours as a statement of purpose and it reminds me that it isn’t so much where you’ve been that is important, but how you are positioned to move forward.
Do you remember how Bilbo introduced himself in The Hobbit? Instead of a direct naming, he posed a riddle of ‘Who Am I’:
“I am Ringwinner and Luck wearer, and I am Barrel-rider”
Perfect, because each person is a bit of a riddle… so here’s mine:
I am Quercus and Olea — English oak and Italian olivewood… a strange and contradictory graft. I’ve been nurtured in humus – Latin for ‘dirt’ and the stem for ‘humility’. Truly, I do grow best in humility. My oaken fruit sports a knurled helmet, which is appropriate, for my name means ‘Ruler of the Army’ (obviously, an army of nuts!). My tannic oak is obdurate and loyal, serviceable, but plain. If there is any beauty, it is from the quiet tone of the grain and the occasional medullary rays that streak across the straight fibers.
My DNA says that another wood has been grafted to the oak bones. Italian olivewood has bold contrast in its grain. It shouts of conflict, passion, and busy-ness: there are no straight lines here. Yet, it is warm in tone and supports a fine finish. Where oak may be tough to work with, olive is a pleasure. But the fruit … well, it is nourishing, but only after a great deal of processing.
So, this odd collaboration is who I am. My aim is to meld this mess: to cultivate tolerance of both acidic and alkali soil — to maximize the oak’s strength of purpose while learning to understand the intricate pattern of the olive.
I Am What I Do
Too many metaphors for me. Perhaps I’m still trying to figure out who I am. For the longest time I defined myself by my work. I was a teacher. I defined myself as such for 35 years and had a difficult time giving that up when I retired. Then I was an innkeeper. I was proud of both occupations. But as I matured I realized I was much more. I finally accepted what I knew since my teens, I am a gay man. Acknowledging that was probably the singular most honest thing I did in life. I tried to do it with grace.
Then if I mix all of this with my genetic makeup I am a mutt- half Italian and half Welsh. Quite a mixture of emotionality and stoicism. All of these things contributed to the makeup of who I turned out to be. I’m still a work in progress who tries to be the best that I can be.
As the years progress I feel as if I am shedding more of the superficial characteristics and accepting who I am at the base level. It kind of gives me permission to speak my mind and cut to the chase, to express my emotions openly and honestly and bedamn the consequences. Age gives us that permission. But honestly, ask me again next year and I might have an entirely different answer.
2 thoughts on “Who Am I?”
In a moment of hubris, after locating my family on Ancestry but still not knowing who these folk are,I decided to compose a couple verses to leave for my grands and great grands. I want them to know me by what I thought and believed, rather than as that name on the tree. I want them to know OB, not Tom O’Brien.
I’d love to see those verses OB…