Rev. Edgar F. Wheeler: 43 Who Am I?

Written March 1987 at Esther’s request

While quite young, I found that my name, Edgar, which I never especially liked, meant “Guardian of the family.” That sparked an idealistic sentiment to be just that – a responsible, reliable, loving and loyal person. Idealism has always been a motivating factor in my life, and at the same time has had its frustrations. My natural impulses have often not squared with my ideals, and yet the ideals have remained a necessary target with positive results.

My feelings and passions are intense, and I have a natural tendency toward impulsive actions. I have never liked much regimentation, preferring to act spontaneously. (I hate to have to read a lot of instructions on how to do something, preferring to try to figure things out as I go – sometimes with unhappy results.) Self-discipline has therefore been a very important element in my life, and one that I have accepted gladly, knowing that it is an essential to rising above self-defeating actions.

Fears have been present in my life, fear of disapproval, of failure, of suffering and separation, and of death. These have been pretty much conquered by taking a positive attitude that they are all a part of life experience. No doubt these were accentuated to quite a degree by circumstances and family environment. I think we in the family were always aware that my father’s was not good, his having had tuberculosis. We grew up in severe depression years, and it seemed that we generally absorbed the depressed and uncertain attitudes of our elders. This was balanced, to some degree at least, by the determination of our parents.

I can see the influence in my own thinking. My father was a good man of the highest integrity and I have absorbed this as a goal. He was a strict disciplinarian, sometimes a little harsh, it seemed. I have been determined to avoid excesses in this direction. Perhaps my mother’s calmer but persistent discipline of a gentler nature have helped bring a balance.

My life work has demanded confrontation from time to time. This has not been pleasant for me, but necessary. Remembering some very painful experience, I have tried to avoid unnecessary hurt to others, and have hoped to be able to offer something positive and encouraging.

I have jokingly been labeled a “sentimental slob” by a good friend. I confess to being a bit of a dreamer and a sentimentalist. Much of my past is very poignant in memory. It has been painful to have children one by one leave home. It takes a lot of disciplining and facing facts to control these feelings. Sentimentalism has at times made decision-making hard, but this has been one of my battles worked out to at least a reasonable degree, I think.

I like areas of solitude in my life. Surroundings help – a room by itself, scenes of beauty and quietness. At the same time, I enjoy social relationships, an openness to everyone in general, but a few special friends and confidants. I want acceptance, yet am somewhat self-conscious if the center of attention (like falling over my own feet when the attention of the crowd seems focused on me). I have never been overly self-confident, but have had a sense of success in many endeavors. So I am willing to tackle what seems to need doing or saying. Sometimes I have been surprised at the approval I have received.

So, who do I see myself to be? I believe I am a very ordinary person, without extraordinary gifts, but with great potential to leave my mark in the world. I see my fulfillment in living beyond myself, and particularly in helping to make the lives of others better. Much of that fulfillment has been in conquering the negatives and turning them to positives.

Next Chapter: 44 An Inner Look At Myself

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