Much to the surprise of some persons who know me, I have learned something about myself in the past 67 years. Think of these traits as tendencies, as in, "I tend to ...". In no particular order:
I accept new acquaintances at face value.
I believe what persons tell me about themselves.
I think the best of people.
I am not cynical.
As a consequence of the above traits, I often lack common sense in gaging or understanding the behavior and attitudes of other persons. My wife says that these qualities verge on a character flaw.
I am optimistic.
I am sentimental.
I like to work.
I am not an actor. I have been in front of movie and television cameras and I couldn't convey my personality. I have been on radio, where I was more effective.
I am uncomfortable with long telephone conversations. I prefer text as the medium for my messages.
I am not a debater. I would not make a good trial attorney.
I am not an administrator and do not like administration. My wife defined an administrator's job as making other persons' problems go away. That's not how I wanted to spend my life--or spend the rest of it.
I like pleasing people with learning, stories, insight, and food. I loved classroom teaching.
I am a brilliant intellect at a conceptual level. At the practical level, I don't always get the connections between things. I am not fascinated by mechanical devices. I never took apart a clock or radio or car. I realize that this inexperience was a weakness in my instruction in the history of technology.
It is possible that my lack of common sense about people extends to objects.
I am an artistic personality. My main motivation in work and play is cultivation and expression of my own creativity.
I am intense. I have focus and concentration when I am working on a project. My intensity is powered by my passion. I have often worked in four hours stints without interruption and often forgot to eat.
There is a downside to my intensity. It puts off most people, who don't quite know what to do with it. Also, it pushes me to cross boundaries, as in conversation about what I am working on, so I inadvertently invade personal space. Consequently, I am attracted to strong people who can deal with my intensity.
I care about honesty, excellence, originality, creativity, integrity, and authenticity to a degree more than most persons, including academics and professionals I have met, do. Though I am honest, I am not perfect. I have lied and deceived. For most of the occasions on which I lied or deceived I have no guilt; but for a few I do. I do not lie well. My wife says she can easily catch me in a lie or deception.
I prize individuality. I prize my individuality.
I am delighted by exotic people and immensely enjoy the diversity of American life. Sometimes persons whom I enjoy have misunderstood my delight, thinking it to be a form of ridicule, but that is not so. Diversity is not, for me, a somber matter, but a source of celebration.
I have never stolen or been violent or otherwise been a criminal. I have never used illegal drugs. I have never smoked marijuana. I have never been tempted.
I enjoy alcohol, but I am a light drinker. I don't like getting drunk. For this gift I am grateful. My father was an alcoholic. His father was an alcoholic. The alcoholism gene must have passed me by; thank you, God.
I don't manipulate people, perhaps because I was inept at it on the few occasions I tried.
I love being a husband and father. I love being in my home. I am quite domestic. I thought of myself as "Mr. Mom" long before it was a movie.
I enjoy falling in love. Being enthralled by a woman is for me one of the greatest pleasures possible. Intelligent conversation about ideas attracts my interest in a woman as much as her sexual appeal and probably constitutes much of her sexual appeal for me. For this reason, I was always drawn to artistic and bookish women.
I do not generally care for movies that require a lot of thought. Movies are just entertainment for me. In one eye, out the other, so to speak. Movies have been described as the great artistic form of the twentieth century, as opera was of the nineteenth century; but the artistic qualities of movies by and large don't interest me.
I love music and song, but I have always been hard of hearing, as a child and adult because of allergies that ruined my inner ear and as a old man simply because of age. Not until I knew a musician, who explained the aural complexity of music, say, of a Brahms' violin concerto, did I realize I wasn't hearing much of it. Nonetheless, except for rock and roll, which never touched me, I love most forms of music.
I have occasionally wondered what kind of soldier I would have been in Vietnam. I was in Air Force ROTC for two years in college, but did not continue into the service. I was drafted later, but being 4-F, because of childhood illnesses, I did not have to serve. I know I am loyal to persons and institutions, sometimes beyond justification--a flaw, I suppose, derived from thinking the best of people. I know that I would have followed orders; but with what success? I have talked with Vietnam combat veterans about this question. They said, to a person, you don't know. You don't know until combat how good you are, or whether you are brave, or what you will do when you're on your own. I became convinced, however, given my lack of practical common sense, that I would have gotten myself killed in combat. This conviction has prevented me from regret that I did not serve and been a welcome barrier to romanticism about war.
As a personality, I have come to understand that I am too much. This has been said of me by more than a few persons. I believe them.
Revised. June 8, 2010.