March 28 , 2024 /


What are we to make of who we are now, who we have become after years of becoming who we are?  Are we who we think we are?  Are we who others think we are?   Are we some combination of what we have learned and experienced?   How have our values, beliefs and actions formed and shaped us into this current version and latest edition?  What is this conversation with ourselves and who are we talking to back and forth?  We, ourselves and us.  Legendary question from S. “What’s to become of us?”


Enough of the plural “we” although I will come back to “us” later.  I can only speak for myself and who I see in the mirror looking back at me, literally and figuratively.  I have traveled a long, and sometimes dusty, road to get here, to become me in 2024.  I am that I am. My being that you can see, hear, read and touch is different from the one of 25, 50 and 75 years ago. I am also the same and I am comfortable with that, sitting here now in this small, quiet, place. I have time to think about these things without many distractions.  There is a “distraction” coming up soon and that may be the topic for the next post, “Moving.”



It was George Herbert Mead, who around 1925 showed how the human self arises in the process of social interaction. He thought that spoken language played a central role in this development. Through language, how we express ourselves, we can take the role of other persons and guide our behavior in terms of the effect our contemplated behavior will have on others. Mead’s psychological approach was centered around actions and behaviors. Thus in my graduate work and afterwards, I  aligned with the behaviorists,  Carl Jung and Carl Rogers, Jean Piaget, Al Bandura, Lev Vygotsky, and two of my professors at Penn State, Bernard and Louise Gurney.



I have some insights and understanding now that were postponed while I was busy growing up, going to school(s )and getting  an education, raising a family, earning a living, fulfilling a career and having fun along the way.  I am still having fun along the way, and I am still learning.  I have this gift of time now to reflect on these things to see how they coalesced into who and what I am today.  I will be different tomorrow. Heraclitus said, “No man steps into the same river twice.  It is not the same river and he is not the same man.”



I am not a fan of labels and boxes and when someone said I needed to think outside the box, my response was, “What box?”   I have been labeled and mislabeled by others. Some of my activities and involvements in the late 1960’s, in the civil rights movement and in the anti-Viet Nam campaign, earned me the label of “sick, sick commie pinko” and a few racist labels I will leave out of print as you can guess what they might be.  I have carried and worn titles that described a function, including, student, laborer, life guard, teacher, professor, driver, doctor, therapist, director, founder, colleague, trustee, headmaster, principal, organizer, facilitator, partner, investor, owner, collaborator, counselor, coach and consultant.  Those descriptions, while accurate, do not define me.



In another dimension are son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and recently, great-grandfather.  A  few weeks ago I was awarded the label of “Resident Rebel” by  I wear it with pride. What I really am at L+D is an historical artifact. These labels and descriptions are expressions of my behaviors in those roles although I was “rebellious” in many of them. I did not always accept or behave according to what was conventional and expected, not a fan of the status quo.


I have failed more than once, made my fair share of mistakes, exercised poor judgments and rendered some bad decisions.  They affected my work life and my personal relationships.  I had to adjust, make corrections, make amends, get back on track and see what I learned so I could avoid a repeat.  I caused trouble for other people, and I learned about making good trouble from John Lewis.  Many of my previous troubles were not so good. I broke things besides rules and contracts.  Most of the infractions were paid for one way or another so I could move on without dragging extra baggage along on my journey.  As Mae West is reported to have said, “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be worthwhile.”  It has been worthwhile, worth the time, energy and effort expended.



I  became aware of John Lewis when, at the age of 23, he became the Coordinator of SNCC.  That was in 1963. I followed John who was an outspoken and well-spoken leader in the civil rights arena. “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” Cancer took John from us 4 years ago in July, 2020.


My parents were church going, liberal Democrats, Depression era kids who did not go to college, married shortly after graduating from high school and worked hard to be sure that their two boys had a college education.  They were married and started their own business in 1931. I was born 6 years later and adopted many of their values and behaviors regarding an egalitarian view of life.  I heard what they said, watched their progress and success, saw how they interacted with others and their community and I began to participate in family conversations, sharing opinions and decisions.


That my views mattered to others gave me a sense of value.  The foundation for my faith and spiritual life was laid down during these early years and the building has been renovated and refurbished numerous times. It still stands and looks very different. I have become more aware of the interdependent nature of my physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual characteristics and how they influence my behaviors.


I was not surprised to learn that one of my ancestors was a Socialist in politics and a strong believer in the “progressive” ideas of Eugene Debs. Their party advocated for a pensioner’s system to protect the elderly many years before Social Security became law. In 1935.   Frank Wampler, the ancestor on my mother’s side of the family, ran for the Senate on Indiana’s Socialist ticket in 1920. As you might expect, he was defeated soundly. The electorate of the time was not in accord with “progressive” ideas. Undeterred, he ran for Indiana governor in 1924. Although he placed third, he again lost by a wide margin.


Maybe it’s in the genes, as I am a self-proclaimed progressive, and although I became a social activist in the 60’s and thereafter, I was not interested in entering the political arena at any level.  My Dad was a local town councilman and later the city auditor, both of which were elected positions. Somewhere along the way I acquired a reputation of perseverance, believing that it pays off, eventually.  I believe in having a vision, setting goals, making plans and working hard and smart to make progress. I’m sure that some of that comes from what is called the Protestant work ethic, a term coined by Max Weber.  The characteristics are diligence, punctuality, delayed gratification and the priority of the work domain.  Protestants had a history of protest, thus it finally made sense to me.


Experiences that have played a large role in bringing me along to here and now, in addition to my family, are an extended education that helped me to understand and rely on research for what I believe. I have had many friendships, some long standing still intact, others more recent.  I went through a divorce and married a second time 28 years ago that brought two families together by our love and support for one another.  S and I embrace one another along with our flaws that we know well and in the words of Fred Rogers, we like each other just the way we are.  A sense of humor is part of the glue that holds us together and we are far from perfect.  A couple of years ago, S. gave me this Christmas gift because I like to cook:









I found work, and work found me, that was challenging, meaningful and rewarding. Traveling has expanded my network of friends and my peripatetic life has fulfilled my desire to continue learning, growing and changing. I believe that in spite of numerous challenges, I have managed to remain kind, gentle, thoughtful, understanding, reasonable, and realistic. I know that self-reports, due to social desirability bias, are not the most reliable.

I like and use this poem from Scottish poet Robert Burns. It is the last verse of, “To a Louse, On Seeing one on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church”. (written in 1787):

Here is s translation from Scots by John D. Cook

“Oh, would some Power give us the gift
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!”


This version of me is based on what I see and record as my behaviors now, some the same over time and others quite different.  This version of me includes feedback and criticism from others that have helped me enormously.  This version of me is grateful for wonderful mentors who helped light my path along the way. This version of me is content with me and eager to see the next version. A big thanks S, to my family, my friends, and to you, dear readers and responders. This gift of time is precious.  Let’s make the most of it with gratitude for the gift.

  • (Photo of me taken last month on a trip while in Chile.)

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