2020

Mr. Zimmerman, one of my high school English teachers, presented our class with his paradigm for life at the beginning of the school year, as, I am sure, he did for each year’s class before us. I imagine he continued this tradition for each year’s class after us until he became Harry S. Truman High School’s principal. Despite it being one of the cheesier life plans one will ever encounter, I remember it fondly.

He first drew on the chalkboard (yes, we used chalkboards back then) a circle and then drew three lines through the circle, dividing that circle into six equal sections. In the top three sections he wrote the letters “P”, “I”, and “E” and he filled in the bottom three with “S”, “M”, and “C”, like this:

Mr. Zimmerman went on to explain the meaning of this diagram of his, maintaining that each slice of the “pie” represented a different aspect of our lives and that the slices ought to be all about the same size and that we ought to devote equal attention to each slice.

So, in memory of Mr. Zimmerman, here is what I plan for my slices in 2020:

Physical – Mr. Zimmerman was not really big on the physical fitness aspect of life. He was, after all, a high school English teacher. He did, though, recognize the importance of being physically active and physically engaged. I have a number of physical goals for this coming year. I want to continue running and aim to compete in a half marathon, at least. I also plan to run 700 miles over the course of the year, quite an increase over what I ran in 2019. Who knows, maybe I’ll even take up yoga.

Intellectual – The need to stay focused and not wander randomly is my main intellectual challenge. For 2020, I will keep my reading centered largely on classics which I have heretofore neglected. I will start with Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy and Richard III. To those I will add just a few current novels and finish Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and read Plutarch’s Lives. This past year I read Republic and a few other works by Plato. I would like to follow that up in 2020 with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, if I can find a translation that makes sense to me.

Emotional – I am a fairly even person emotionally, not out of control on the upside nor the downside. So, for 2020, I guess it will be steady as as (s)he goes. Or, perhaps, what would do me some good would be more emotional involvement in the world around me and, with it, more emotional maturity. Maybe I need to open myself up to experiencing life’s highs and lows more. Laugh more, cry more. More weddings and funerals in 2020?

Social – While I am not a very social person, I am not anti-social, either. I guess you could call me “asocial” if you want to call me anything. As I become more emotionally involved with the world around me, I expect that I will shorten the social distance between myself and others. I know I should want to be more social, but, in reality, I am happy as I am now.

Moral – The more I look at myself, the more I see the need for a more moral me. Morals, after all, are the animating force behind a person’s actions, or at least should be. A more moral me would be a more outraged me and a more compassionate me and a more socially engaged me and a more emotionally charged and mature me. It will begin with a more moral me.

Cultural – I feel that the cultural part of me is the part that presents one of the biggest opportunities for growth. After 2019 slipped by without me being all that culturally active, I have decided to be much more culturally active this coming year than last. Reading plays is one thing, but there is nothing like seeing them performed. I will be taking in a modern re-telling of Richard III, the play Teenage Dick by Mike Lew, which will be at Washington DC’s Woolly Mammoth Theater in June. That should be a nice wrap-up to reading the bard’s plays. I also have a number of other live performances planned. Additionally, I will be expanding upon the limited amount of Italian I learned in 2019 before visiting Rome and Cinque Terre. I am committed to more travel abroad in the future, but for now that is a hope, not a plan.

I am quite sure I have not done justice to Mr. Zimmerman’s “pie” but at least I have a start.

Thank you, Mr. Zimmerman.

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