I’ve been engaged in a lot of deep reflection of late.
Maybe it’s the change of seasons. When I look back at a lifetime of notes on Being Tom or Becoming Tom, I notice I get a little more reflective towards the end of the year. That’s natural then, I guess.
The oldest entry in my Evernotes is from April 2013, however, and it says “find purpose.” Following those two words is a list and a paragraph, I assume both lifted from some book or another. For reference sake, this was three years before the original TBT. It says:
Superior ability that other people notice in value
We love doing it and want to do it as much as possible.
It is energizing for us and the people around us.
We keep getting better.
It’s an interesting list and I can project a few things in my life into it these days. For example, I have a superior ability to drink beer, I love doing it as much as possible, it is energizing to me and people drinking beer with me and, with practice, I could probably learn to do it better.
But do you people notice any value in it? 😉
The paragraph below that says this:
“First of all DON’T ASK OTHERS what to do with your life. You will only hear what they want you to do. If you can’t find an answer within yourself, just keep thinking about it, and clear your mind frequently through meditation. Even if you can’t seem to find an answer, LIVE THE QUESTION.”
Now that I read that I think I remember the book. “Three Simple Steps” or something like that. At that time in my life I was looking for that elusive “one big thing” that lends us our purpose, focuses our attention and propels us into a life of overwhelming success. Within a couple of years I realized “one big thing” was not for me.
Before Evernotes there were spiral notebooks. I have a stack of them in a nook in the hutch to the right of my computer. Every morning I used to pull out the current spiral and make notes about Tom or direction or life or what have you. The oldest entry in the oldest one is from September of 2005.
What does it say?
I’m glad you asked.
At the top left of the page it says “Week of 9/25.” Below that is a short list of to-dos: clean office, order contacts, setup satellite service. That last one is weird because I had been living in the house I was living in then for a year and a half and certainly had satellite service already (or I would have missed the entire 2004 football season). But let’s not hover on details, eh?
To the right of that list is another list. I’m an incurable list person. “Things I Need,” it says. A treadmill. Some free weights. A palm pilot. A mission. Yes, it really does say “a mission.” That one is circled. The palm pilot is crossed out. The other two are still pending.
But below that is another list. Yeah, I know. But it is the most curious of them all, because it lists updates beneath it from November 2005, February 2006, August 2006, and May of 2007. This list is titled “Things I Want To Know More About.”
From the updates: futurism, politics, culture myths, psychology.
So unlike 2013, in 2005-2007 I fancied myself more of a polymath than, say, a virtuoso. No one big thing for me; I wanted to be a jack of all and master of none.
Ah, but that purpose. That mission. It makes all the lists.
I’ve been engaged in a lot of deep reflection of late. This reflection has been geared towards management of time, of which there seems to be so precious little these days. I’ve been listing priorities, not just small ones but large ones. Sure, fixing the sink stopper in the bathroom where I keep losing contacts is a big one but self-improvement is every bit as important as home-improvement. And like home-improvement self-improvement never ends. We are never “there.” The last project is never crossed off. As we make progress we find more things that need attention.
In December of 2013 there is an Evernote that says “The Next 10 Things.” Listed beneath it, as you can imagine, are ten things.
Read every day for 20 minutes
Learn to Code
Invest in the stock market
Practice brain exercises
Stay up on current events
My latest entry has 11 and is called “Priorities”:
Improving Work, Making Work Mine
Getting Organized, at work and home
Home Improvement (list)
Unleashing (planning, updating, gaming)
Social (text, see, FB, twitter)
Reading (books, articles, news, comics, newscafe, blogs)
Football (Rams, fantasy, Madden)
Games (Civ, Democracy)
I never did learn to code. I could probably stand to have a dry spell still. I skipped 1-8 this morning and went straight to priority #9. Nobody’s perfect. But the act of listing definitely helps me focus, even if I don’t follow the list.
It is the 4th of October in the year 2019. I’ve been engaged in a lot of deep reflection of late. I don’t see that ending anytime soon. That’s what I do, what I’ve always done. Find Tom. Improve him. That’s the best that I can do.
Now I think I’ll go cross that circled “mission” off my 2005 list.
And maybe buy a treadmill.