Through A Glass Darkly

Describing Myself in Four Words

By Jeff Salter

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” [KJV]
— 1 Corinthians 13:12

Our Wednesday Fox gave us a tough assignment this week: Which four words best describe us?

As others here have noted, people and their characteristics / personalities are (generally) not static — rather, they change over the term of their lifetimes. One certainly hopes those changes are for the better!

The cited verse from 1 Corinthians was one of the first things that came to my mind — though I think it has been misunderstood by many. This is not the place or time to analyze this scripture, but let me say that (to me) the most secular interpretation conjures the image of peering into a mirror and being not quite able to discern clearly (at present). In other words, maybe the image will be clearer… LATER.

As I was thinking about this topic, I realized – as have others this week – that descriptions of myself in earlier decades were not necessarily the same as they’d be in current times.

When I’ve (previously) looked back on my 70 years, there is one period – fortunately relatively brief – in which I occasionally behaved like the kind of person I would NOT wish to be around. There were lots of factors: I had chips on my shoulder about not being able to afford to return to the university where I’d spent my freshman year, I knew I was going to be “called up” to serve in the military (in the first lottery… fall 1969), and I had a part-time job at a local newspaper that gave me an inflated notion of my sophistication.

Most of the unfortunate characteristics I’ll list below were exhibited in the local college classrooms — to other students and the professors. At times, I’m ashamed to admit, I behaved insufferably. But when one is 19 years old with several chips on his shoulders, he can be a bit of a stinker (without even trying to be).

So here are some terms I’d use to describe the 19-year-old Jeff… with those unwieldy chips on his shoulders:

Impatient

Cocky

Risky

Know-it-all

Yes… that was me, especially on the campus (that I’d determined was too “inferior” for me). I like to think I kept those worst characteristics under some degree of control elsewhere (like, work, church, home, etc.). But it’s also possible people in those other environments saw bits and pieces of that insufferable stinker. If so, I’m grateful to those who were able to overlook my immaturity and hold out hope for my future.

So, fast-forward through the decades… through my marriage, my Air Force hitch, our two wonderful babies, completing my bachelors and masters degrees, and working nearly 30 years in the library profession.

In these retirement years, I think I’ve finally shaken loose of those four undesirable characteristics. Now, the counterparts to those same terms would be:

Patient

Polite

Careful

Learning

Not pretending that I’m perfect — far from it. But definitely recognizing significant progress from that immature, self-absorbed jerk with the chips on his shoulders. And making positive transitions as we age is likely what living a life is all about.

Question:

Which four terms would describe you now?

Which terms would describe you at your worst… whenever that may have been?

[JLS # 524]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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12 Responses to Through A Glass Darkly

  1. jbrayweber says:

    Tough question, today. I’m not sure I can give an answer. As you say, these are not static for the most part. We change throughout the phases of our lives. Oftentimes, it’s adapting to our environments. But I will say for me I tend to be unwavering in being fair, loyal, active, and determined.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Thanks, Jenn. Those four descriptors are definitely worthy ones to strive for. Your family & friends & co-workers are fortunate to have association with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Introspection is a wonderful tool, Jeff, if one sees CLEARLY, and not through a glass darkly, as you can now do.
    I wish that I had thought to take this angle for my post tomorrow, but I chose two different lists. I am also changed and am glad that I can see where I was headed down the wrong path early in life had things gone the way I had wished, (science without faith), and some ideas and ideals that I held to too firmly which made me feel superior, (and God knocked me off my high horse over these).
    I only wish that I had had true self-assurance growing up or before middle age….and I could use some more even now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In one of the earlier blogs, I listed the traits to describe me now, but since you asked what traits would describe me at my worst, I’ll list those here. Because I’m Irish, and yes, I do have an Irish temper that from time to time gets the better of me, I’d have to say (now remember, this is at my worst lol) hot-tempered, sarcastic, stubborn, and impatient. Fortunately, I don’t let my temper get out of control too often, but those who have seen it, know to steer clear until I’ve settled down. And maybe after I’ve prayed and asked the Lord’s forgiveness for losing it in the first place. lol Most of the time, my good Irish traits are in control. 🙂

    Jeff, if one of your traits is learning, then we know you don’t consider yourself perfect. We should all be learning all the time. Nice list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Irish temper?
      Reminds me of that Maureen O’Hara character in “The Quiet Man” (with John Wayne).
      One of my favorite films.

      Like

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    We definitely do change over time, and I especially appreciate the learning aspect that describes you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      During my library career, I occasionally worked with literacy efforts. One of their tenets was “life-long learning.” It made an impact on me.

      Like

  5. I can’t imagine 19 year old you.
    The 4 words that described me at my worst would be self-destructive, passionate, defiant, fragile. My teen and young adult years were filled with turmoil.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I think we all have periods of our life that we look back at and shudder. For me, it was soon after I started teaching and was tired of being a good girl. My list then would have been scary. Glad those days are done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Agree.
      And it was rather uncomfortable for me to list my characteristics from that brief period when I was (at least in my college setting) a jerk.

      Like

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