A Before C

I want to elaborate upon an idea I broached last week because, as some of you know, the brain never stops. And, with that being the case, I like to use the momentum created by rabid gray matter to propagate the expansion of ideas. Those ideas could, and often do, come in the form of improving the Rams front seven, pondering the evolution of man, disparaging the rotten president, or making a 95-part list to subtly improve my domicile.

Could be anything.

But the most common form of improvement I contemplate is self-improvement. As I indicated with my palaverous mission statement last week I am always seeking to be a better Tom. So that begged the question, the kind always epiphanized in the shower, “who is Tom?”

Now I know Tom pretty well, I ought to after 51 years of studying the guy. So when that question pops in my head I find myself delving into new perspectives on the illusion of self. Oh, it’s my favorite illusion of all.

It all started with the rather innocuous question (in my private journal), “What is more important, edification or contentment?”

This question came after realizing I hadn’t read 100 pages of any book since July, after reading religiously in the ballpark of 30 pages a day for the entire first half of the year. This led to “why?” and to the realization that without the forcing of myself into pages I don’t generally make time for them at all, most days. Why? Because I’m actually happier not forcing myself to do much of anything. If I am content, why force edification?

Wait. Before you answer that, I already did:

Because contentment is fine, of course, but it leads to complacency. Edification combats complacency and stimulates growth.

So if forcing myself to edify – to grow – requires effort, perhaps even strain, then I should make that effort. I should want to grow.

(and so should you)

This conclusion led to another query: “If my time is limited, shouldn’t my edification then be focused on things that specifically target my own individual goals?”

Maybe. Probably.

So, then, what are my specific goals? Do you see where this is going?

I enjoy reading, studying, and talking about a great many things, but let’s be honest … I am never going to be a national politician or a pro football general manager. Come to think of it I’ll never run a comic book publishing company, either. But I do so love the history of politics, of football, and of comic book publishing. A good book about any of those things makes me positively giddy. But a really good book about anything is particularly hard to find, at times. Sometimes we’re 100 pages in before we even know it sucks. At 2 minutes a page, that’s a lot of wasted minutes.

Bear with me, I’m getting to a point.

The next thing to come up in my private journal yesterday was this:

“I need to enjoy this pattern but also strive for continued improvement. Never settle. I’m 51 years old and happier in this time than I’ve ever known, more satisfied with who Tom is and what he surrounds himself with, but I can still get better.”

Which led to the shower question. Of course it led there by way of another revelation, that it is more important to know who I want to be than what I want to do. For a living, I mean. I’m not a dollar chaser, never have been, so even though I intend to be a businessman in the white goods industry, I intend to do that to make a living. And making a living is my side gig. It’s what I do for money, and I only ever need enough of that to put a safe, secure roof over my head in a decent neighborhood while I explore my greater interests in life. One of those being persistent self-improvement.

So, the shower question again. If my goal is to be the best Tom that I can be, the question becomes how to define “Tom” and how to define “best.”

My enneagram tells me I’m a Type 5 and 7 and 3 and 8 (in that order). Type 5 is “the investigator.” If you’ve read this far you already know that’s true. Type 7 is “the enthusiast.” I’m sure you saw that coming! Type 3 is “the achiever.” I suppose that’s true to somewhere near the 58% match they gave me. Type 8 is “the challenger.” I am indeed “strong and powerful” and do “stand up for what [I] believe in” a good 56% of the time.

Really none of that was revelatory nor did it help to define the base level of me or provide a roadmap for the desired best. But it was fun. You should try it.

That is where I stand now, in my personal quest. I am in the best place I have ever been and if it were “more of the same” for the rest of my days, I would be content. I would be in a happy form of complacent. If happiness is the entire goal of a human life then I get to ring the bell. But it isn’t, not to me. It is the baseline. It is the point from which all else may spring.

Once that baseline is set, the question becomes about goals. What is your baseline? What are your goals? I’m asking. I am particularly interested because your perspective influences mine. Do you waste days, like I feel I do, in complacency or apathy or even in the furious pursuit of nothing in particular? Are those days necessary? Honestly, they might be. But where do you want to be, and who? It is the destination, I think, that decides the navigation.

In the past few months I’ve tried to read Fukuyama and Huxley and Chemerinsky and Snyder and nothing took. It isn’t about them – they have produced fine works — it is about me. I’m in transition. Tom in flux. I’m wiping out my reading list, I’m starting over. I’m screwing around with my priorities again. Enthusiastically, I am investigating the challenge of what I really want to achieve.

What I read about and write about and think about and do will not depend on what I should read about and write about and think about and do … but on what I ultimately want to be.

A better me.

(definition pending)

33 thoughts on “A Before C

      1. Oh yeah, I can see that. That is definitely one of the reasons we chose not to. But if we had, I suppose that would simply change some of the calculus, eh? The baseline would become the happiness, welfare, and future for those children, which in return provides a different type of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves. Am I right about that?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha! No, I didn’t mean that; having dogs can’t be comparative to having children from the standpoint of altering one’s life. My point is that if Mrs C and I had gone that route, with children, it would have changed our own baseline definitions of happiness, and our happiness would have been redefined to ensuring THEIR welfare instead, and there is reciprocal happiness to be found in that. 😊 Right?

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      1. I’m old enough to be your mom, but I agree. The funniest part I thought you were going to elaborate was the shower bit. When in a shower we do get a very good look at ourselves whether we want to or not (in my case😱). But then I dress, put on some makeup, fix my hair and think, I’ve done the best I can. Attitude is everything. I read what I like, my time of reading the classics was done in my youth. I rarely take a book to read on someone else’s recommendation. I do a lot of research on things which is fun, love seeing different opinions and views. I’ve had quite a few jobs and loved them all, felt the accomplishment, but the best part was interaction with people. I’m just a blabbermouth, as evidenced in this response. I’m waiting for the response from Steve to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m old enough to be your mom, but I agree. The funniest part I thought you were going to elaborate was the shower bit. When in a shower we do get a very good look at ourselves whether we want to or not (in my case😱). But then I dress, put on some makeup, fix my hair and think, I’ve done the best I can. Attitude is everything. I read what I like, my time of reading the classics was done in my youth. I rarely take a book to read on someone else’s recommendation. I do a lot of research on things which is fun, love seeing different opinions and views. I’ve had quite a few jobs and loved them all, felt the accomplishment, but the best part was interaction with people. I’m just a blabbermouth, as evidenced in this response. I’m waiting for the response from

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s the perspective I’m looking for! We are all of different ages, different walks of life, and different points of view. My search for self-fulfillment is completely different than yours, or from Steve’s, but that’s okay. The most important lesson we can glean, I think, is that life goals can vary from person to person. There are “rules” of society to try and get us hammered into the same search for outcomes, but those are the very rules we need to overcome, and have in a lot of ways in the last couple of centuries.

        When I set out to present my perspective on these topics it isn’t about me writing about myself. It is about me explaining a point of view, and mine is the only one I truly know. I can guess at others, but I cannot know. Heck, a lot of people never get to understanding their own!

        Thank you for the insightful response, Cheryl!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. The question of goals is always a difficult one for me. When my high school guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to do with my life I said, “I want to rock”, hoping I would suddenly be thrown into a Twisted Sister video, but it didn’t work.
    I do know I want to write, and I do write. I am even about to be published, thanks to someone I met through blogging—possibly through TBT—and it’s something I’d like to repeat. It’s difficult to find places where my work fits, though, and, with a nice stack of rejections, difficult to muster the courage to keep trying. Sometimes I can barely put muster on a hot dog.
    I’d like to write a book, hopefully one even Tom would enjoy reading, in spite of your admirable addiction to nonfiction.
    I’d like writing to be my main gig, and as far as my priorities and goals are concerned it is, even if it adds to the bills rather than paying them. The thing about any artistic pursuit is that it is its own reward. Yes, artists deserve to be paid for their work—in most cases the only way great work can be produced is if artists have the freedom to pursue their artistic goals. I’ve just come to accept that I won’t be one of the ones who’ll be able to quit my day job. That won’t stop me from pursuing writing, not as a hobby, but as something I have to do.
    So, anyway, what was the question again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol! It’s funny you mentioned my predilection for nonfiction, cuz part of my “transition” is the thought that maybe I need a string of “hard” fiction reads; something that combines my love of the real with the stories of the unreal. What does that mean? 🤷‍♂️

      I’ve said before that I love the writing process but would probably hate to HAVE to do it. That being said, Mrs C made me print out that 50,000 word NaNoWriMo I did a couple of years ago – fiction about a game we run – so she can read it. She loves it. I have a feeling she’s going to make me finish it. 😂

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      1. Believe it or not I opened a beer and was on my way to respond when my best friends showed up to look at the house across the street from mine, in which they just went into escrow on. So I opened that beer and went to check out my best friends’ new house next to mine.

        Oh, the trouble that will ensue now. 😉

        So, without beer, let me say this (all jokes I had prepared aside): I can’t do it. No one can. No one can tell Tom how to be the best Tom he can be, or map his road of self-improvement, except Tom. And no one can do that for Bojana but Bojana. We are the only ones who truly know ourselves, and we can never truly know another. In fact, we are so complex that most never really know themselves.

        So always start there, everyone. “Know thyself.”

        If I had to guess at a baseline for you it would be at the health and happiness of B. When that is in line then you get to set your goals. Just like “personal happiness” is my baseline and once that is in order I can do more for others or towards my own goals. Your goals? I can’t begin to guess.

        How was that?

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  2. Why Pastor Tom Pole Saw, this is enlightening indeed! What a view into the complicated life of Tom, who by the way loves to talk about himself in the third person. But that’s okay because so do I, lol. I’ve seen that Tom has a lot in common with the Huntress, both being somewhat unsatisfied with their reading lists. Tom brought up a very good suggestion, tossing it and beginning a new chapter in Tom’s life regarding, well many things including self-improvement and finding Tom’s self.

    I think Pastor Tom Pole Saw is onto something…..something good, something tells me I’m into something…..oh wait, never mind the Huntress has to turn off her iTunes for right now. But, very good, funny and informative post Pastor Tom…..aka Tom Being Tom….aka Tom Pole Saw!

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  3. In a strange way Tom, my new post for today (which are the thoughts that have been preoccupying me lately) seems to reflect on similar questions that you brought up here. This isn’t (just) shameless self-promotion, I really think so! Same wavelength brother!👏👍

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  4. The Stoics would applaud your endeavor; pursuit of understanding is the only true calling. However, if you pursue enlightenment through armchair analysis or active exploration the degree to which you are successful is moot. Machinations along the path vary from day to day, year to year, but in the end remember, all is for naught.

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  5. I’m so happy that you feel like you’re in the best place you’ve ever been. You deserve it! As far as I’m concerned, you’re the best Tom I know. And I don’t know any other Toms, for the record:-)

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  6. Hi Tom, what an interesting and thought provoking post. I think it’s great that you’re content where you are. I’ve always been a big believer that it’s more about the journey than the destination, after all the goal posts change all the time don’t they. I know now at 54 and being almost an empty nester I’ve more of an idea of who I am, what I want and how I want to live. But I’ve also enjoyed the road leading here with my kids. Life’s all about change though and evolving after all and shifting goal posts. These days I’m getting loads of travel articles published which was always a dream but now my aim is to produce a coffee table book on my travels and musings in Oz and maybe leave a little bit of a mark on the world! Gotta do what we love hey! 😁 Hope you’re well Tom.

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    1. All is quite well, Miriam, thank you!

      Gosh, you made me re-read this and I realize it was pretty meandering. I don’t mind that, mind you! That’s where my head was that day, and some other days besides. But I hope the point was made: I’m not lost, I’m just adjusting my GPS. Those goal posts keep moving, and most of the time it is because we move them, either consciously or not.

      I’m moving my goal posts right now. I don’t know to where, and if you read my next post you already know that I’m right where I want to be geographically, every day, and aware of where I’ve been. But metaphorically speaking, what’s next? I’m going to live here, check. I’m going to sell appliances, probably have my own store, check. I’m going to be married to Mrs C for all of my days, raise my golden dogs, drink beer, hang with pals, watch the Rams, and enjoy the heck out of every day I have left, whether that be 1 day or 1 million. Is that enough?

      It seems to be, but it seems awfully complacent. Should I want a challenge? Maybe. Probably. But it will come. I won’t force it.

      I don’t mind a little C right now (complacency), and I’m enjoying not having the other C (calamity). My goal posts, at the moment, are down. It’s the offseason for Tom.

      I guess it’s enough right now just to understand. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely Tom. Adjusting that GPS is pretty common I think. You’re in a good place, that’s pretty obvious, and that’s all we can hope for. When I get a chance I’ll read your next post. In the meantime enjoy the offseason! 😊

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  7. Self-improvement is the goal for me too. And as you, I am now in a transition state where none of my self-improvement strategies work. Not much reading or really learning anything new. So now I think I need a beer too.

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