Tom Being Tom

Just me, talking about stuff.

We Are Not But One Thing

By on 14 Jan 2018


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.

You follow?

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. πŸ˜‰

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, β€œwe 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!

Full stop.

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 β€œor” instead of an β€œand”? 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 (], via Wikimedia Common

23 comments on “We Are Not But One Thing

  1. This was a very inspiring post Tom, thank you for that. In our attempt to be as complete as possible, I like to think that we each comprise a unity of different things mixed in a beautiful harmonious whole.
    Parmenides, a Greek philosopher, had a reputation of offering complex puzzles for others to solve. Here’s one for you buddy. How can many different things share in the same form without destroying the unity of the one form? Does every beautiful thing (a person, a flower, a horse) possess the whole of the idea of beauty or only a part of the idea of beauty?

    1. Thank you, Bojana. πŸ™‚

      That is an interesting puzzle. Obviously, the answer is as much philosophy as the question, and probably unknowable objectively. But for me, I would say that a beautiful thing possesses the attribute “beauty” that is part of its larger whole, which includes many other attributes and complexities. We are the sum of our parts; though these parts are forever alterable. As I change parts of me I change, but not wholly, because many attributes I’ve long had remain. Sometimes, the minute changes are imperceptible, since most of the structure stays the same. Sometimes, however, a large enough attribute, or enough smaller ones, are altered that the change, overall, is palpable.

      How did I do? 😎

      1. You did great.
        I read sth interesting. In order to change, sth must become what it is not, which requires the existence of that which does not exist, the nothing or non-being. So, that’s impossible.
        Many philosophers tried to answer the question concerning how sth can be both the same and different at the same time. And failed. Many centuries later, Bojana and Tom are coming to grips with the puzzle and eureka!!! They (think they) have the answer. We, with our complexities and dialities, are all comprised of different attributes, which seemingly do not attract. As we grow and learn, we change though the predominant trait remains. So, an old fart will most likely remain an old part till the end. With the conscious few, the changes are more tangible and as stated many a time before, little by little, we might save the world.
        As for us, I can promise you one thing. If the time machine is invented any time soon, I’ll book us VIP seats for Ancient Greece so we can discuss philosophy with the big shots.

        1. Ah, they’d never know what hit ’em! πŸ˜‚

          Honestly, the evolution of philosophy, since those times, has been spotty, at best. It seems there was a time when the exploration of humanity was done for the benefit of humanity and, today, it seems to be done for something entirely different. Mostly, for money. I think our ability to explore the fundamental truths of the universe for the decidedly more altruistic purpose of, at the very least, its own sake and, in our higher moments, for the betterment of all, puts us closer to the ancient ideal than most.

          In other words, our quest is to, indeed, save the world, even if it must be from itself.

          I guess that makes us big damn heroes, huh? πŸ˜‰

  2. This was revelatory and inspiring and as always, just a plain old good read. If only everyone could embrace and enjoy such fearless self-discovery — well, I’d probably find myself with absolutely nothing to write about but I’d be quite happy to make that sacrifice.

    1. Thanks, Paul. πŸ™‚ I find that the further I delve into self-discovery the more I have to write about. I think you’d find the same. In point of fact, the process of self-discovery in never-ending, so that muse is omnipresent. πŸ˜‰

  3. I love this Tom. You have the gift of self-awareness. You know who you are and therefore know what you want. I tried for the longest time to keep reinventing myself until I realized that I’m just me in all of my hot mess. I don’t love who I am but I’m starting to accept it. I just want real. I hope you reach your goals man just stay real and it will happen. Great post as always

    1. Thank you, my friend! I believe the process of self-discovery and personal evolution is rewarding, but it is by no means easy. The path of least resistance in life is to accept the person we are naturally, as dictated by our genes and early environs. For most, that means embracing the dictates of society, the mores of current culture, exactly as presented. Though a somewhat simpler path, it is by no means easy, because – as you’ve mentioned – it can conflict with the personal ideals we develop and cause us to “not love” who we are.

      I’m a hot mess, too. I have far many more foibles than strong points, and I do the wrong thing as often as the right one. But that’s part of the hero’s journey, essential to whatever path we choose, whether it be reinvention or assimilation of what we have come to accept about ourselves, into the larger whole.

      Thanks for reading, man!

  4. You are, as ever, inspiring and wise. I am right behind you on the journey into the 6th decade and I find myself more contemplative than ever, but also more accepting of who I was, who I am and who I am yet to become. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having my 30 year old body back, but my (almost) 49 year old self is ok.

    1. Thank you, Susan. πŸ™‚ Don’t rush to come over that hill, I’ll explore on ahead and report back what I find, probably a couple of times a week, right here. πŸ˜‰

      It’s going to be a very interesting journey into Level 6, and although I can’t wait to get started, I’m also okay to take my time. Holding onto 49 as long as I can, to paraphrase John Cougar. 😎

      But wouldn’t it be amazing to know then what we know now? ::sigh::

  5. Knowing you succeed, and have repeatedly, at intentional change remains a foundational feature of my own, recently discovered, ability to affect personal transformation. “Ch ch ch changes…”

    1. Glad to help in any way I can, AM. Thanks for reading and chiming in! The knowledge of prior success emboldens me to ever greater heights and ever greater chances. I’ll certainly keep you informed through the process of change!

      “I watch the ripples change their size
      But never leave the stream
      Of warm impermanence”

  6. Wow…you have quite the analytical mind. Did you breakdown your decades, I mean ‘levels’ at an early stage or is that a retro analysis?
    Anyway…. I like it. thanks.

    1. Thank you, Karyn! I started to analyze the levels of my life in my early 30’s, during the first big metamorphosis, though I didn’t use that terminology, then. The most recent nomenclature I’ve used was version number (Tom 2.0, Tom 3.6, etc), but this levels thing caught on with me more recently. Growth and change have been a part of my nature, however, since I was a sullen teen and wanted to be, instead, a happy adult. The simplest intent can trigger the process of evolution, and create, for us, the life we want, instead of the life we have.

      I believe that. 😊

      1. “”The simplest intent can trigger the process of evolution, and create, for us, the life we want, instead of the life we have.””
        I hope you are right because I really need change right now πŸ™‚

  7. I’m vertical today. I’m ok with the fact that that may be all I accomplish πŸ˜› Lately, I find myself working more on the day to day even hour to hour plan than I do looking years ahead

    1. Good! It is in the day to day that the best things happen. I don’t look too far ahead, too often, only when I must (or get that driving urge). I found out a long time ago that changes and wishes do not come true, today, but come true in the longer sense by setting our compass, knowing our true north star, and then simply living our lives. After all, life is what happens while we are busy making plans. πŸ˜‰

      Stay vertical, Grace, and love every single minute of this beautiful thing we call life!

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