I had to write a very brief intro to myself for a group describing who I “really” am at my core, “beyond your resume, awards, or accolades.” This is what I finally read to them:
I like people; crowds energize me. But I’m also inordinately self-contained (some might say self-absorbed) and feel nervous and stressed when I can’t spend a high percentage of each day completely alone. My wife is, if anything, even more self-contained. We don’t get out to socialize much.
I’ve written 15 books and published 10. I’ve written hundreds of poems and had dozens of them published in magazines and journals in virtually every state. Sometimes I try to pay my experience forward. Before we moved here, I had a specific area in my personal library for autographed books authors gave me as thanks for my help. Those books filled about ten feet of shelf space.
I’ve written over 200 songs and can still perform maybe 50 of them without looking at the words. I paid for college by performing music and giving 40 guitar lessons every week. These days I mostly play for the Egan Warming Centers (homeless shelters).
I think language is the fabric of civilization. People who devalue language — who use words carelessly or deceptively — pose an existential threat to civilization. Being a fan of civilization, I oppose those people.
I value curiosity, creativity, persistence, and humor. I believe in education, science, and logic. My tribe is people who read. I have very little patience for sloppy thinking, intentional ignorance, and uninformed opinion. On the other hand, as my own brain, hearing, and memory decline and I make more and more dumb mistakes, I realize I can no longer mock the foolish with impunity. Therefore, I’m trying to develop tolerance for people who say things that seem to me to be patently and egregiously stupid. Developing that tolerance has been a slow process for me.
I love science, but I also believe in magic. Mysterious forces swirl around us, forces too strange and powerful for humans to understand or control. They exist outside the laws of cause and effect and beyond language but have some sort of symbiotic relationship with beauty, music, and love. I call it magic; you may call it God. When I am cheerfully receptive to magic, I notice happy coincidences in my life. If I respond to those with wonder and gratitude, I am rewarded with more happy coincidences. That’s my religion. That’s who I am.