Time dictates lots of things. I am not now even the ghost of what I was back then. I look more like Santa Claus than my father or my grandfathers ever did. You may notice that, even with glasses on, I have to squint in order to see who I really am.
It is normal to do a bit of self-examination after a milestone birthday. But I never claimed to be normal. In fact, I doubt after the results of the recent election that you could say I was anything like the common man at all.
I was raised a Christian in a Midwest Methodist Church from a small Iowa farm town. But I have since become something of an agnostic or atheist… not because I don’t believe in God, but because I don’t believe anyone can tell me who God is or how he wants me to be other than me. But I am also not at the center of the universe the way most religious people believe. I believe that all people are born good and have to work at being bad by making self-centered choices and making excuses to themselves for behaving in ways that they know are wrong. God doesn’t forgive my sins because he doesn’t have to. I am tolerant of all people and most things about them. To sum up this paragraph, I am nothing like the dedicated Christians I know and grew up among. The actions of the new, in-coming government and dominant political party convince me that intolerance, self-interest, and rationalizations are the norm.
I deal with the problems of life by making jokes and forging ahead with carefully considered plans in spite of the doubts others express about my abilities, my choices, and my sanity. I prefer to do something rather than to sit idly by and do nothing. Yet, I never do anything without agonizing over the plan before I take that step. And like the recent election, things usually go wrong. I have failed at far more things in my life than I have succeeded at.
I am told I think too much. I hear constantly that I make things too complicated. People say I should do practically everything in a different way… usually their way. But I inherited a bit of stubbornness from my square-headed German ancestors. In fact, I inherited Beyer-stubborn from my Grandma Beyer. In all the time I knew her, I never saw her change her mind about anything… ever. She was a Republican who thought all Republicans were like President Eisenhower, even Ronald Reagan… but not Barry Goldwater. Someone convinced her that Goldwater was a radical. That was almost as bad as being a Democrat. I, however, have strayed from the Beyer-stubborn tradition enough to change my mind once in a while, though only after carefully considering the facts on both sides of the question. Nixon changed me from a Republican like Grandma into a Democrat. Fortunately, Grandma Beyer loved me too much to disown me.
So how do I summarize this mirror-staring exercise now that I have passed the 500-word goal? Probably by stating that I do have a vague idea of who I am. But I promise to keep looking in the mirror anyway. One never knows what he will see in the map of his soul that he wears on his face.