Who Are You?

What are you?  Who are you?  Are you what you have done?  Are you close to whom you want to be?  Are you what you have seen and thought, or perhaps written? Your adventures?  Experiences? Your mistakes? How you made amends? Who you have loved and lost?  Or who you have helped?

I asked Mandy, who takes care of my professional blog, to update my personal blog. “Send a bio and a couple of pictures, and I will take care of the rest,” she said.  I can spin a brief biography for a client in a moment or two.  They are easy to write, mechanical, not personal at all.  This is tougher.  Who wants to write a personal bio?  I would rather someone else do it, then it can be impressions of another, rather than me having to write it.

My blog is a series of stories about my life. It is about me, and who I think I am, what I have done, and how I see things.  I like who I have become, however,  I did not like myself as a young man.  Maybe you are not supposed to. Maybe liking yourself is supposed to wait a few years, and take a bit of work and effort.

My adventures have taken me to much of the world. I have hiked jungles in Asia and Central America.  I sailed the Atlantic and the Caribbean for twenty years in my own boats.  I sailed the Atlantic and Pacific in a submarine for six years. I have worked in Asian countries including China, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Japan and India.  I have also worked in Brazil, and Mexico, Canada and thirty or so states in the U.S.  I have had jobs in the Middle East, and several countries in Europe.  I have many tales left to tell, if I choose to write them.

I still work in places around the world, even though in my late 60’s.  Why? I like the adventure.  I like it to work with people who are not like me, people who are a different color, race and from a different culture. I teach them engineering.  They teach me about themselves.  It makes me a better American. America, however, is not the place where I grew up, when it was mostly white, a bit black, with each keeping to their own.  Now, America is different, and better.  I am racially a Caucasian, but culturally mixed. I have become what I have done. I like it that way. I like what America has become, for the most part.  I stand on a high point of reference, as I have seen the world.  The Four Cardinal Virtues are justice, wisdom, courage and fortitude, and moderation. From these,  spring all other virtues.  How are we doing?  Let’s just say we could do better.  Better than most is not good enough.

I think I have become, for a most part, a good man who is flawed.  I am generous, kind, and friendly.  I guess I no longer really take life all that seriously. Why should I?  Every day really is a gift. I love each day more than life, if that makes sense. I really don’t worry about tomorrow.  Strange how long it takes to realize that all I can do is the next right thing, as right as I can. I like to be myself. I am a good guy, and like to share my nature. I like to talk and smile. I keep my eyes open.  I saw an old woman walking the sidewalk yesterday carrying groceries and an umbrella to shade her from the hot sun.  I gave her a ride home.  I didn’t do it for her, as I am not that humble. I am just selfish enough to do it because it makes me feel good.  I try to do good all the time.  Yes, for myself.

I wasn’t always a good guy. I lived within my inadequate self, and sought approval from others. That’s no fun.  I was too private.  And, I suppose, fearful of not being enough.

“How are you?” people say, even though they don’t care. “Livin’ the dream,” I reply.  They laugh, and think, “What a silly answer.”

If they only knew!  I am fortunate to be alive. I coded, died, multiple times, from a massive heart attack that was the result of a drug reaction that was administered to me in a hospital.  This was after I drove off a road in Florida, passing out from a leaky heart valve.  I was in Florida, where I was supposed to be for only for a couple of days, at a time when I was living in jungles and a sailboat, rarely in the United States.  It’s a miracle that I survived crashing a car, then for the next few days, then a month in a coma, then a year, waiting for a heart, the Gift of Life from an anonymous donor. I think we are in conscious contact at special moments.

I am alive!  Why? Why me? I had hope and faith, two of the supernatural virtues, no fear while staying alive, waiting for a heart.  I was determined. I knew I would live and survive. It is my nature.  But why, after so many brushes with death?  What am I to do, who am I supposed to be, to deserve the Gift of Life?

I had night terrors in the beginning of my new life, life with a new heart. These were vivid terrors which are hard to write about. In this terror, I was back on the operating table.  My chest was open, and I could see my heart.  There was a young woman on a table next to me. The surgeon who had transplanted my heart looked at me, and said, “John, we have another person who is more deserving of this heart.”

“Then take it,” I said.

I had this terror so often at the beginning I was afraid to go to sleep.  Now, it is gone.  Is it gone because I try live my life to deserve this heart?

Who am I?  I am many things, but first, I am a heart transplant survivor.  I am a man who has the Gift of Life, and I live it that way.  Thank God!

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