10 Things I Would Like to Become…

  1. A better teacher
  • My strengths are insight and caring. I need to be better at giving examples. 
  1. A more articulate arguer
  • I like to argue. I’m always surprised that I’m not very good at it. The problem is that I don’t have my arguments worked out. I don’t have a bank of facts to support my positions. And that’s because I am not in the habit of remembering facts. My habit is to remember my conclusions. (Because I think my interest in learning is philosophical, not rhetorical.) I have to identify my key positions and memorize supporting facts. I have to become a quicker learner. 
  1. A subtler writer
  • I’ve always wanted to be both a writer and also a teacher. My teaching desire penetrates my writing style. I tend to over-explain, which is sometime forgivable in essays and non-fiction books but is deadly in fiction. It makes me realize that my desire to be a good teacher – to have my student understand – is actually stronger than my desire to be a good teacher. I treat my readers like students. I’m more concerned that they get the point than that they enjoy the story.
  1. Less sensitive to criticism
  • I’m generally good at criticism because I’m generally comfortable being less than great at almost everything I do. But I could be better when it comes to criticism of my character. I’m sensitive to that – perhaps because I’m not as good a person as I’d like to be.
  1. More accepting of other views on social and political issues
  • Conservatives think leftists have no brains. Leftists think conservatives have no heart. I agree with both of them. And I let this infect my feelings. I actually get angry. Even at friends and family members.
  1. More aware of my surroundings
  • When you are as practiced in the art of self-absorption as I am, you have little attention left to give to your surroundings. I believe that living in the here and nowwill improve my experience of life. But I can’t get out of my head.
  1. Less conscious of my approaching death
  • When you reach a certain age, the mantle of death looms. That’s not a good thing for several reasons, not the least of which it makes you more self-absorbed. (See #6.) I’ve got to get out from underneath it.
  1. Kinder
  • There is a sign at a fork in the road that one comes to later in life. It appears every time you wake up and a dozen times during the day. One arrow points to Good Humor. The other to Grouchiness. I am well aware that I should walk in the direction of Good Humor. But Grouchiness beckons. 
  1. More stoic
  • When someone asks me how I’m doing these days, I answer, “No complaints.” I do that not because I’m feeling good, but because I realize that complaining about whatever ails me will do neither the questioner nor I any good. This is one small area in life where I’ve learned to be more stoic. I’d like to expand the range of my stoicism.
  1. Thinner
  • There’s no point in denying it. I cannot delude myself any longer with clichés like, “I have to love me as I am.” Thinner is better.