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Recently someone called me a nerd. I wasn't the least bit insulted by being called one, mind you. The person who tossed the sobriquet at me had no intention of being either insulting or cruel, but I found myself puzzled. It is a term usually applied to people who are passionate about technology, science, or mathematics. I am comfortable with technology, I adore science, and I wish fervently that I was better at mathematics, but I don't don't consider myself particularly adept at any of them, so I was confused as to why anyone would label me as a nerd. I like technology, science, and math nerds, but I don't believe that I could reasonably be considered a card carrying member of the nerd club. When I mentioned this fact to the person who had called me one, he laughed and told me that I was a totally unique kind of nerd, but a nerd nonetheless. I had to think about that.
The conversation originated because I mentioned that I was going to watch Dr Who online Christmas evening and I was quite excited about it. I have been a Dr Who fan since I was very young and watched it on PBS. I didn't really understand it when I was little, but I knew that I liked it, which evidently was enough at the time. There have been many Doctors over the years, the character has the power to regenerate as a new person rather than die, a convenient plot device since there have been 12 of them over the 50 years of the show and a new Doctor was to be introduced on Christmas Day. I was pumped. Evidently, being a life long Dr Who fan made me a nerd, or, at the very least, a Doctor Who nerd anyway. I mentioned to my nerd accuser that being a fan of Doctor Who, particularly since there are numerous years I missed altogether, hardly was sufficient to make me a nerd. He countered that I was a nerd about numerous things of various kinds, which made me just generally a nerd overall. I suppose it is just a matter of definitions in the end.
Back to The Doctor. In the end, right before he was about to regenerate into a new Doctor, he said something that got me to thinking. In effect, he said that everything changes, even ourselves, that we are many people in our lifetimes and the secret is to accept the changes but never forget who we once were. This got me to thinking about how I have changed over the years, who I have been, and who I am now. I realized that we often like to forget who we have been in our former incarnations. Some of them might be rather horrifying, some worth a cringe or two, and some just uncomfortable, and looking back at them with any serious detail can be embarrassing or oven painful. But the truth of the matter is that who we have been, what we have learned, and how we have changed all goes directly to who we are right now, and denying any of it is pointless. I know that who I am now is a direct consequence of who I am now and I need to stop beating myself up for my former selves, accept it all, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, and take inventory of what I have discarded and what I have retained. I need to know that I have saved the good and discarded the not so good, just to be certain that I didn't throw out any babies with the bathwater so to speak.
I am certain of one thing. I am a far better person than I once was. Not that I was particularly bad, but I was plagued with the insecurities, doubts, and abundant self-interest that hounds us all and some of that dictated my behavior that was less than admirable. I believe that I can identify the points in my life that brought about my overall improvement as a human being; the events that occurred, the mistakes I made and later came to recognize, and the people who had a positive influence on my evolution. They are all there, and the lessons I have learned from them are many and of infinite value in who I am at this time. My metamorphosis was rather slower and more painful than I would have liked, but some of us are slower learners than others I suppose.
In the end, people and events have guided me to remarkable self-improvement, which I suppose is saying something since there are many people I have known who seem incapable of changing or improving at all. We are stubborn creatures and loath to admit our faults or even that we are capable of being wrong. I know my youngest child, who is possessed of a rare gift of spiritual goodness, has helped to make me a better person. Some of our best lessons can come from unexpected sources that are not constrained by either age or experience. There are people in this world who manage quite young to figure things out and if we allow ourselves to be prejudiced by assuming that those sources need to be of a certain kind, type, or age, we are foolish in the extreme. There are those who seem to be born with a kind of wisdom.
On Christmas Day I found myself wondering if I would like the new Doctor Who. Would I like him as much as the last one or the one before? It made me realize that often, the most difficult aspect of changing ourselves is finding a way to accept that change ourselves, but in finding that acceptance in those around us. Changing ourselves can be difficult and sometimes it is harder for those around us to accept it than for us to accept ourselves.
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