The message I want to deliver to you today is simple: we are not but one thing. We are allowed our dichotomies. We should embrace our multiplicities.
As I have mentioned in the past, I am a man with a mission. Statement, that is. Every time I get into the mood for reevaluation, for inspiration, for evolution, I rework my mission. I break Tom down to the core again, examine all the pretty little bits of it, clear the dust, clean the gears, and reassemble the man, to fully understand what drives him. And, if I am unhappy with any of it, or I find a more sensible, productive, or innovative array, I make some changes. I am, again, in the process of change.
I was mentioning to myself, in my private journal (yes, I often write only for me), that I must begin to assume the nature of my 6th decade on this planet.
[incidentally, somebody asked me recently how it could be my sixth decade, because I am only turning 50. 0-9 was decade one. 10-19 was decade two. 20-29 was decade three. 30-39 was decade four. 40-49 was decade five, so I am entering my sixth decade on earth in June. Salud!]
In assuming my 6th-level nature, in my journal, I looked back upon the nature of all previous levels. The 1st level, the discovery phase, I became a superhero. Maybe the other boys played baseball, but I played with cape and cowl. I was more fascinated by what I read, and imagined, than what I could hit or throw. By 2nd level I became a storyteller. My second decade was characterized more by gaming universes than school dances. That decade can also be remembered as the one where I briefly embraced, and then escaped, the spiritual culture story of my society and time.
By 3rd level, in that third decade on earth, the one they call our 20s, I became an adult. Awkward phase, that one, particularly for a human who rejected societal culture stories and who grew up in a fantasy mind. Without guidance, I set my own. I was going to, in order (1) get out of trouble (I got in some trouble during the transition between levels), (2) own my own business, (3) own my own home, and (4) of course, marry. Over the next ten years, I accomplished it all, marrying and buying my first home precisely at 29, after taking over the family business at 26. Hurray for Adult Tom.
I was terribly unhappy with that business, by the way, and that home. Early in my fourth decade on earth, my 30s, I ditched them both, taking the wife and the dogs and escaping entirely the life I built in my 20s. At 4th level I became a student. I fell in love with writing. So, in order to write I made up a new story, telling everybody I was giving everything up to return to school and become a TEACHER! Really.
Honestly, I think I would have been pretty good at that.
But as the 4th decade unwound, I found instead a job that suit my needs. My student debt (all my debts) got out of control, we erroneously bought another house (at the height of the market!), and I never completed my academic studies. Regardless, I learned more about life in my 30s than in any other, so I still consider myself to have been, in my 4th decade, a student.
To recap, I was a superhero, a storyteller, an adult, and a student. I tried to be what I read. I tried to create what I read. Then I tried to be what I was told, and finally I tried to discover something more.
Then came Level 5. My 40s. Easily the best decade of them all.
My intention, in my early 5th decade, was to put it all together, somehow. To stop trying to live up to the pages of a book, the fantasies of the mind, the pressures of the world, or the indoctrination of the learned, and really, finally, just be me. Tom. At 5th level I became Tom.
I began to embrace my unusualness, accept my flaws, value my strengths. Instead of surrounding myself with people that I thought I should, I began to surround myself with people that truly embraced me, for being me. Not just accepted Tom for who he is, but valued him. I lost some folks along the way, but change is hard. There were certainly pains in growth.
But I stand here now, proud of who I am. Another crossroads ahead. A new decade. As I have done at the commencement of each new decade since I became an adult (at 3rd level, you’ll recall), I must look forward and set my intention. I’m proud to say that every time I have, I have succeeded, in that decade, for better or for worse, to fulfill my intent. So what, praytell, does Tom want to look like when he’s 60?
Well, I’d like to look like I did when I was 28. Just being honest. 😉
But, as a whole, I mean. What intention do I set?
Forget the drum roll. I don’t know. I’m still working on that part.
But my point today wasn’t to reveal my intention, my point was to say to you, “we are not but one thing,” remember?
I have been many things over the course of my existence. I am many things now. But as I was looking forward, brainstorming the 6th level of me, I reached a point of excitement over some intention that began to take over, take root. It’s a dream I followed before, but never as the man I am now, and it would – without a doubt – answer many questions that will arise as I advance in age.
It seemed, at first, to derail some other things I had been working on, in recent days. It could end my quest for creativity. This new (and old) endeavor would be left-brained, and I have done so much right-brain work of late!
I had to tell myself that I can do more than one thing. That I am more than one thing. I always have been. I can intend to, for example, be a brilliant businessman and creative writer, too.
Do you struggle with that? Have you ever caught yourself being an “or” instead of an “and”? I did. Many times, including yesterday. No more.
Whatever changes the next decade brings – and there will be many, of that I’m sure – I will not limit myself to one thing. I will chase the reality and the fantasy of life. I will be broad and bold; utterly complete and evolving still.
Because I know this, because I embrace this, I believe that I can make this next decade the best one yet.
At least, that’s what I intend to do.
Photo by Allan Ajifo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Common