My old pal Marcus is one of the most conscientious people I know. His mantra is, “When I’m doing something, do it well”. He’s not a perfectionist nor does he suffer from OCD. Marcus is just one of those rare people who, early in life, developed the habits of being efficient, thorough, organized, and vigilant. At the same time, he has an easy going, open-minded personality without being disorderly.
Marcus is very practical. He thinks things through without over-thinking. He’s cautious without being timid. He has a plan for nearly every undertaking. Just when you think that Marcus is an uptight fuddy duddy, he’ll surprise you with an off-the-wall joke or deed. While Marcus is very conscientious, he’s not at all conservative. He’s a very nuanced, philosophical kind of guy.
Once he finishes his chores and duties, my friend shows up to enjoy a cup of coffee. We then go about making plans about how we are going to save the world from itself. Marcus is one of those “back of the envelope” note-takers and sketchers. I make sure to have plenty of scratch paper handy for his use. If we’re having a meal at the local supermarket cafeteria, Marcus reflexively takes a paper napkin from a dispenser to jot down his ideas.
I once asked my friend how he came to be so conscientious yet retain such open-mindedness. Marcus explained that he was a careless boy who had to learn a lot of painful lessons at a young age. He said he was an early graduate of the school of hard-knocks.
While growing up in his lower-middle-class neighborhood in South Omaha, he witnessed a lot of violence and dysfunctional families all around him. In fact, his own family was a hotbed of domestic violence. His father frequently verbally and physically abused Marcus’ mother. Marcus confessed that he, himself was a bad boy and was only one petty infraction away from being sent to the reform school in Kearney (Nebraska).
The idea of being sent away to reform school was his wake-up call. Marcus did not want to end up living a sad, messed-up life like his neighbors did. He did not want to have a dysfunctional family life like that of his childhood. That and his inbred idealism awakened his hibernating conscientiousness. He had witnessed first-hand how his father was stubborn and used dogmatic beliefs as excuses to beat his wife and children. Marcus came to an early realization that he needed to be more understanding and forgiving of his fellow human beings. So, my friend has evolved into being a conscientious, live and let live sort of man.
Marcus is one of those guys who is compassionate, intelligent, and conscientious. My friend is a work in progress because he’s always on the look-out for ways he can improve himself and work more effectively. He’s also mindful about his conscientiousness to the point of understanding when enough is enough.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the author of horror stories, H.P. Lovecraft. “Never should an unfamiliar word be passed over without elucidation, for, with a little conscientious research, we may each day add to our conquests in the realm of philology and become more and more ready for graceful independent expression.”