On January 18, 1984, I was having coffee with a close friend and mentor who suggested I write down what I felt was most important to me, what I believed in, what made me tick. He then suggested that I revisit the list every ten years or so. “Most importantly.” he told me, “don’t ever stop challenging who you are, what you believe in, and what you are most passionate about.” He also suggested I tuck my responses away in a place I wouldn’t forget.
Recently, while rummaging through several old boxes from our storage room, I came across a tattered notebook, covered from corner to corner with my chicken scratch. Inside I found a diary of sorts – lyrics, poems, photos, some old receipts – and the self-made profile I had forgotten all about.
I have little recollection of writing it at all, let alone where I was, or the state of mind I was in when I did. Reading what I could of the faded pencil markings, I was surprised how different I am now from Old Bob – so much so, I probably would’t recognize old me if I ran into him at a party.
We all change over time. Some more than others. In my case, not only would I not recognize Old Bob, I’m not even sure I would like Old Bob.
On a side note, Old Bob was once known as New Bob. See, when I arrived at college, one of my roommates, and longtime friend ever since, was also named Bob. Upon my arrival, I immediately became known as, “New Bob,” recurrently and painfully underscored by the fact that every time someone would play “Situation” by Yaz, the lyrics, “move out,” sung during were, en masse replaced with, “New Bob.”
New Bob, don’t mess around
New Bob, you bring me down
New Bob, how you get about
don’t make a sound just New Bob
As I was saying, I’ve changed a lot over the years. So much so it made me think that very few people who knew Old Bob, probably don’t know New Bob very well – especially those I’ve not spent any concentrated time with since my move to Atlanta.
So, I thought it would be fun, albeit a bit narcissistic, to make that list again – this time, focusing on how I’ve changed most over the years, and with the promise to try to stay in better touch with myself than I have in the past.
More importantly, this is part of my self-imposed therapy designed to help me get to know myself better, while offering those around me who care a glimpse into what makes me tick now. Consider this one of those, “21 things you don’t know about me,” type of things.
Each of these beliefs are the result of personal experiences over the last 30 years of my life. I think I am a better person for most of these, but regardless, they are a sum total of who I am, and will shape who I become. This list was not easy to compile , particularly knowing I was going to make it public. In the end, I hope this inspires you to act, question, learn, laugh, or maybe even get to know me – or yourself a little better.
- I believe nobody should be made to feel they need to apologize for — or defend — what they believe in. It’s our differences, not our similarities that make us special.
- My heroes are not celebrities, politicians, sport stars, authors or artists, but those who dare to challenge the status quo and “moral standard” by exercising a courage to stand up for who they are and what they believe – particularly in the face of criticism.
- I believe the quest for truth and understanding can not be clouded by partisanship or pre-conceived truth. The day we stop listening to others and considering we may be wrong in our conclusions is the death of our intellectual soul.
- As a result of number three, we must constantly question everything – most importantly, ourselves.
- Science and religion need to co-exist in our world – they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, nor do they threaten each other. Instead, each fills a gap left by the other. They lift each other up in our support to bring reason and comfort to the unknown. It is the human condition to make decisions based on logic and emotion.
- I believe freedom comes from detachment – of possession, reliance, thought, and deed.
- I believe it is cowardly to bitch about something without offering a solution, or at least, honest discourse with those who agree – and disagree on the matter.
- None of us have the right to judge another human being’s morality or beliefs. Nobody for any reason – ever.
- Just once in your life: Jump in a swimming pool naked, during the daylight, in public and without shame
- Do something to excess – pushing your boundaries – occasionally.
- Every so often, eat something you would never consider eating.
- Admit something to someone you that makes you very uncomfortable.
- Take a genuine leap of faith.
- Give gifts others don’t need, but will bring them great joy.
- Accept gifts without argument or apology. Anything less – or more is an insult.
- Live life on your own terms before its too late.
- Fail with a smile. Succeed with humility as you will certainly fail again.
- Sleep, at least once, on the street and on cashmere. I’ve done both and must say, they are equally cathartic.
- Those who call themselves open-minded, creative, understanding, loving, etc., usually are not.
- I really don’t care too much about what other people think – that is their business, not mine. Nor should you care about this. This is my business. But if we should happen to share a passion, let’s make it ours.
- That day when you make a list of your beliefs, is a very weak day in your life. But without weakness, we cannot identify, let alone appreciate, our strengths.
And so it goes.
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