I am currently reading about John Quincy Adams, the sixth US President and I find we have some things in common (but not everything). I want to write a blog about it, but I’m not sure if I know how any longer. It’s been so long. My life has gone in new and unexpected directions, particularly educational politics and trying to get out of debt, but I miss this. I miss the communion with my Muse that I once shared regularly, even daily for a while. I still have the same old doubts about myself and the same old questions:
· Will I make a difference in this world?
· Can I do something that will garner positive attention (and maybe some money)?
· Will I ever get my house on the beach?
· Can I be a good father?
· Will I write or teach history one day?
· Why do I have so many passions?
That last question is tricky. (They are all tricky.) When I first started doing these blogs
was very excited because I felt that they were giving me some direction and some much needed
courage to make some changes. After having done about fifteen, I shared my excitement with a
men’s group I was in at the time. Their response was less than enthusiastic. The comment that
hurt the most was, “You always start things but never finish them.”
Maybe that hurt because I believed it was true. But maybe it wasn’t (or isn’t) true at all. Maybe I just have a lot of interests. Since that tepid response from those men, I’ve written nearly 900 blogs. I also got a Master’s in US History, traveled through part of the United States, self-published a book, won an election, and made significant contributions to my work and church. I created curriculum, taught middle school, and expanded my occupational skills. I think it was Brian Tracy who said, “It’s not the goal that’s important, but who you become as you strive to reach that goal.” I’ve become a different person. More accurately, I’m becoming a different person.
For better or worse, one of my greatest priorities is to become a better, kinder, more useful, and more knowledgeable person. So I find myself doing many things, reading many books, and having many priorities. One of my current projects is to read or listen to two books on every single US President. I’ve read or listened to about sixteen books so far. I’m currently listening to John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life by Fred Nagel. What I’ve learned about the sixth US President is that he too had many interests and many things he was good at, including science, writing, and poetry. He was, like me, very driven and very, very hard on himself. Also like me, he may have had mild ADHD, but that was not an identified condition at the time. He was, like me, easily distracted and would procrastinate even on things he loved to do. He was, unlike me, cold and aloof with many people. He was disagreeable, and very impolitic for a politician. He claimed that his true love was literature and study, but he spent most of his life (including his adolescence) in some political or diplomatic position or other until the day he died, literally in the Senate chambers on Capitol Hill while arguing a point. His funeral was the most attended in US History until Abraham Lincoln’s.
Most historians agree that his tenure as US President was forgettable (due much in part to an extremely oppositional Congress who believed he brokered a deal with his Secretary of State Henry Clay in order to give Adams the required number of electoral votes to make him President). Like his father, John Adams, JQA only served one term (both Adams were the only two of the first seven Presidents to do so). But Adams, despite his often-denied desire to become President, wanted to be remembered for his other accomplishments. Diplomat, Harvard professor, poet, scientist, author, husband, parent, Congressman, Senator, and scholar. He was more than his famous father’s son and he was more than a President. He may have not done it all, but he did more than most men do in two lifetimes.
One of the reasons I like history is that it shows us that our problems are not so unique or unprecedented. Our forefathers often struggled with the same things we do today. This makes me feel less alone. I, like JQA, have a lot of interests. My Muse tells me I can pursue them all if I just use my time well.
I believe her.
That’s why I Get Started and Keep Going, just like JQA.