Thoughts by Richard Bleil
“So, tell me about yourself.” It’s pretty standard small talk when you meet someone for the first time. And how do we respond? Do we say that we enjoy puns and humor? Do we admit that we still have the heart of an artist? Do we tell them the hobbies that make us happy? Do we say that we are married and have a wonderful family?
Like most of us, I always respond with my career first. I’m a professor, or I’m a chemist, or something along those lines. Never do I open with the fact that I believe in love and worry about others probably more than I should. I’m not a man, I’m a chemistry professor.
But I’m not. At least not anymore, and if I’m not a chemistry professor, who am I? Am I even a man?
I do know one thing: I’m struggling with a personality crisis. I need to discover who I am, and what I stand for. Am I still going to try to make a difference in the world, and if it’s not through teaching, then how should I do it?
I am a Freemason. This might be my saving grace, actually. The stated mission of the Freemasons is to make good men better. I hope I am a good man, but I know that I have plenty of room to improve. We do try to improve society, but not in the usual way. Yes, we participate in philanthropy, such as the ChIP program, but more than that, we try to make society better by modeling what we believe men should be.
Every once in a while, somebody compares me to actors. Some years ago, I was told I emulate James Stewart, meaning that I’m just kind and not presumptuous. I don’t see it, but I like James Stewart, so I’ll take it. More recently, I’ve been told I remind my friend of Colin Firth from the Kingsmen. Again, not in his appearance so much as his presentation. Maybe I should just try to live the kind of life that I would like to see in others, and perhaps I’ll begin to make a difference. About the same time, no doubt, that I find a woman who loves me.
What’s interesting is that it’s not their appearance that made my friends think of me, but their presence, attitude, and characters. The Iching “Sun” entry states that change from violence, such as the formation of mountains, are most noticeable, but it’s the slow constant force like the wind that wears the mountain down that makes the most lasting change. I guess I’m like the wind. I blow.
It’s a difficult lesson to give up on your identity as career based. I’ll be honest; I’m not even sure what I’m going to do. I need a job to occupy my time, but I can also coast long enough to wait for a job I truly enjoy, and I can live cheaply enough that I don’t need a high salary. Perhaps I can find a job in a hardware or specialty store. I’ve actually considered seeing if I can get a job in a sex novelty store. I just think it would be a fun job. Or, alternatively, maybe I can find a store going out of business and start my own. I’ve been having fun with this concept of late. I think, if I had my own place, I would want it to be a macabre shop. Like a year-round Halloween store with decorations and toys for the darker side of the soul. And why not? There are year-round Christmas shops, so why wouldn’t it work?
This is all premature, though. Before I can figure out how to portray myself, I first have to figure out who, exactly, I am. Giving up on teaching and chemistry, I’m feeling rather naked and vulnerable. Who am I if I am not a chemistry professor? Am I anybody?
If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. I think I have the soul of an artist, but I lack skill. Recently I wrote about my new keyboard to start learning how to write music. I have painted in acrylic, and always wanted to learn how to draw, but I hate wasting resources if I don’t have talent. I know, it’s ridiculous. It’s just a hang-up of mine.
Maybe an art store would suit me. Or maybe I should stay away from retail. I have wanted to get back to writing fiction. My book, Vampire Genetics, netted me a whopping seven dollars, so, a hundred more books and I could maybe buy a gaming system. I guess we’ll see where the remainder of my journey takes me.