Renaissance Man


  1. a person with many talents or areas of knowledge.

I periodically like to think of myself as a renaissance man because I have a vast array skills acquired by my never ending need to learn new things. However, lately I’ve been questioning my own identity as I find that I pull myself in so many different directions to the point there is no longer a clear definitive entity.

It would be one things if I tried new things and abandoned them if they weren’t meaningful. The issue is I enjoy so many things that each one suffers in a way as it gets pushed to the side for another.

Perhaps I’m not supposed to have one clear cut identity and who I am is a dabbler in many things. If that were the case knowing so would alleviate some of the guilt of not following through with certain things in a timely fashion.

It definitely is an identity crisis of a sort although not a terrible one.

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Mirror Mirror

This week I heard an interesting notion that the things we find most annoying in other people are things that we need to work on within ourselves. I’m not sure if I entirely subscribe to that belief although I do believe it warrants some merits.

Earlier in the week I wasn’t feeling my best mentally. It happens to all of us. Sometimes we just get into a funk and perhaps start blaming the world for our woes. I know all the tips and techniques for stopping the negative chatter but that doesn’t mean I’m always good at applying them to myself.

However, once I did I noticed that a few of the things that were really bothering me about other people’s behaivors were things that I could find guilt in myself for as well.

Perhaps not everything we find annoying in others is a reflection back on ourselves although a good look in the mirror now and then can do us a world of good.

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Benny Go Home

So here at the Jersey Shore there is a saying that happens starting around Memorial Day Weekend which lasts throughout the summer: Benny Go Home. You’ll see this on bumper stickers and t-shirts and various store signs. In case you are not from the area and are not sure what these means I’ll break it down for you.

A “Benny” is someone from a twon north of the shore who come down on the weekends or a weekly rental to take advantage of the beach towns along the shore. The term Benny is an acronym for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark & New York. These are larger cities/towns so it would makes sense that more people would come from these areas.

The problem that the locals have is that these “Bennys” usually tend to be quite distruptive to the quality of life we live the other 9 months out fo the year. Traffic increases, parking becomes more difficult, noise levels go up, drunkeness definitely increases.

Now this isn’t to say that everyone who visits the shore is an obnoxious ass but there are enough of them that this rallying cry has taken hold for as long as I can remember. I’m sure it’s the same situation anywhere where tourists gather en masse.

But today I started thinking about how this cry of “Benny Go Home” is just a local level of larger bias. When someone screams at someone who is Asian or Muslim to “go back where you came from” isn’t it the same thing?

Perhaps we can learn to be a bit more tolerant. Or can we only be tolerant when it doesn’t impact us? I work in a shore town and have taken to being extra nice to the tourists visiting even when they ask stupid questions. I figure if I’m going to preach tolerance and being nice and spreading kindness I should probably lead by example.

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What Is Love Anyway?

I am a 50 years old man. I’ve been in a relationship with my wife for 29 years. I am a son. I am a brother. I am a friend. I am a father to dogs. You would think that any of that would give me some indication as to what love actually is.

However, I find it very difficult to explain or define it. I find love to be a construct in our own minds. I don’t mean this like it’s a marketing ploy to sell chocolate and flowers on Valentine’s Day. If you think about our emotions, they are different to each person. My defintion of anger, happiness or depression will be different than yours based on my life experiences and upbringing. If we can agree to that than the concept fo love would have to be different as well.

Love transcends different boundaries. The love you have for a romantic partner is different than the love you have for a pet or a friend. It is a different feeling in each instance.

So what exactly is love?

I don’t have an answer. I know the devasating void that was created when my dog Flynn died would give some indication that I loved her. I didn’t feel the same way when my brother or father passed. I’m not sure if I should find that confusing or not. I had more of a relationship with my dog at the time so I guess it would make sense.

I can’t say I’m happy with the dictionary definition of it. I think it sounds stupid to say that I don’t have a good definition but I also think it’s healthy for me to say that.

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Can I Be Honest?

I have a list of topics that I would like to write about but I tend to hold back from doing so? Why? Partly because I get sidetracked and am prone to fits of procrastination but also partly because I’m censoring myself.

I find that in the current social climate it’s very difficult to have an honest and open discussion. You may run the risk of offending someone with your honesty or potential unpopular opinions. I know I can quite hold viewpoints that don’t align with many others and that’s ok. The problem is not being able to talk about them.

If you can have an active dialog you have the potential of understanding other peoples points of view and perhaps even changing either your way of thinking or theirs. This can’t happen without communication.

If we don’t take the time to listen and to try to understand we will never have any kind of progress. We will continue to stay divided and attempt to scream more loudly than someone we disagree with.

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Picky Picky

The other day I was looking out the window at work and saw a squirrel jump up on to a garbage can and find a bit of food. He proceeded to sit there for the next ten minutes happy as can be eating his bounty which was something a human had decided was scrap to be tossed.

It got me thinking about how often we are picky about what we want to eat, especially if we are dining out. Other animals will take whatever they can find but there are other people with food insecurity that feel the same way.

We as a society waste so much food while plenty of people go to bed hungry at night. I think it would serve us all well to be more mindful of this fact.

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The Struggles of Adulting

I went to the wake of a friends father this past Friday. My struggle was with what to wear. I haven’t had the needd to dress like an “adult” for about a year and a half at this point. My wardrobe is filled with bright colorful attire which I didn’t feel was appropriate for the occasion. In the end I found something that worked and it felt alien on me. It wasn’t me.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I turned 50 this year and there is an expectation that you should be somewhat of a mature adult. The things you like and the clothes you wear should all be different that they were 20 years ago. Those things are no longer appropriate for your age.

But they are all still things that I really like and make me happy.

Should we conform to some idealized norm of what a particular age looks like? Why are we focusing on the chronological age as opposed to the psychological, biological or functional age?

I wouldn’t hold out for seeing me wearing a tweed blazer with elbow patches any time soon.

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Ebb & Flow

I talk often about maintaining balance in your life. It’s incredibly difficult to do but today I realized why.

You don’t know what’s happening next.

If there was some kind of way of knowing what the next 20 years of your life would hold in store for you it would be incredibly easy. You would know when to work harder and when you should relax. But we don’t know.

I led a workshop recently about “Going With The Flow” and it all makes perfect sense. I can explain to you all the things that you should do to and how to just go with what life gives you. The reality is all of it could be completely wrong depending on how life plays out.

So my question now is what’s the right way? If you can’t know what’s going to happen do you even bother worrying about it? Do you just live in the best possible manner because there is no way of knowing? The answer is probably yes but I can also envision a scenario many years from now where there is a certain level of regret for maybe not doing things differently when you had the chance.

Is all of this really vague? It is. I know that. I have a friend going through something insanely traumatic that just has me thinking and thinking and thinking. This is how I process things.

Hopefully there is enough here for you to take and think about.

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The Next Thing

If there is one glaring character flaw I’ve noticed in myself it’s the ability to almost never be content in the present moment. I tend to find myself looking for “the next thing”. It’s not so much that I’m looking for something better than what I currently have, it’s more like once I have it the novelty immediately wears off.

I find this encompasses many different aspects of my life including people. It’s a driving factor in not completing projects I start. It’s probably also a driving force in my lack of contentment and inability to be truly happy.

It’s a heavy thing when you stop and self-reflect. Knowing this about myself how to I change it? I have all the answers to that. I’ve trained and continuously study to help people with just these very types of topics. The problem is turning that spotlight of knowledge on yourself. Knowledge doesn’t equal change.

The cliche “one step at a time” is very relevant here. It’s one step, one project, one friend, one book, one hobby. Take everything that’s going on and finish each individual thing and clear the entire plate. Then be a little more selective as to what you put back on with a clear understanding of why it’s being chosen.

I’m always a work in progress.

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Until It Happens

There are certain things in life that you tend to give very little thought about – until it happens.

Today was one of those days for me.

I work as a cheese monger a couple of days a week and today I had a customer come in who is deaf. While she was wearing a mask with an open window so I could see her mouth, I was wearing a very closed mask that didn’t afford her the same courtesy.

I felt particularly stupid trying to use crude hand gestures to communicate. Sometimes I wrote things down on paper and sometimes she typed things onto the screen of her phone.

In the end she left with what she came in for and I stayed with the dose of reality of how difficult it is for those who rely on reading lips to communicate during a pandemic when everyone is wearing masks.

I can’t say that I never thought about this before, but it was my first direct experience. Perhaps it will remind me to be a bit more thoughtful of those around me.

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