Be warned, this post is more for me than anyone else. (Warning: the word "I" is used a whole bunch. Dont judge me. Me. ME. MEEEEE!!) I'm not sure where my physical journal is, so the internet denizens will be subject to my thoughts, if they have the patience or inclination to read it. This is not the distillation of my life philosophy, or the wrap up of the most important lessons I have learned, it is only an attempt to record some new and different feelings and perspective that have been forming over the past few years. Maybe this post is about growing up. Although I'm sure that in a great many ways, maybe even the most important ways, I still have not "grown up" at all.
May 2010. Memorial Day.
4.5 years since getting married.
27 years since being born.
a little over 3 years since Lucy was born and I graduated college.
2 years since moving to Houston
1 year into my masters program
9 years since graduating High School
5 years since youtube.com, and all that other world changing interenet 2.0 stuff.
40 years since the landings on the moon.
229 years since the founding out our nation.
Many thousands of years since recorded history started happening.
4 billions of years since the earth cooled from a ball of magma.
5 billion since the big ball of gas that is our sun formed and lit on nuclear fire.
15 billion years since our universe began.
Lets talk about the passage of time.
What is possible in 6 weeks? As a missionary, That was all the time in the world to find a lost soul, teach them everything they needed to know to change their lives, and do that.
In High School, that was a grading period. Another roll of the dice to see how I pushed through the obligatory hoops of a predetermined life.
As a child, 6 weeks was an eternity. It was multiple summer camps in totally new locations to do completely new things with people I had never met before.
It was multiple merit badges, campouts, books, movies, and other fantastic things.
But now, 6 weeks is nothing. It's a blink of an eye. It's a relatively small amount of time in preparation for a shuttle launch. It's an accrual of a day or so of vacation time. It's a couple of bookends in the life of my children, who in 3 years have gone from non-existant to two, and talking and walking and loving and crying and caring.
There are some things that I do at work, where I can push it 6 weeks forward or 6 weeks back, and it makes no difference at all. I can get some emails, put it on my to do list, and then do it 2 months later and it's fine.
In May 2008, Mamie and I had moved to Houston after just purchasing our second home. We had lived in our first home for 6 months and turned it from a 70s shag hole into a beautiful home in the northwest forrest. In that 6 months before we moved to Houston, I had grown incredibly tired of my job and secured a dream job working on the space station program in Houston. In the 6 months before that, we had graduated, moved, Lucy was born, and I started a job. There was a lot going on in those days.
In the 2 years since then, I have planned out multi-year strategies to replenish the air conditioning filters on the space station. I have briefed managers and shippers, set paperwork in place and handled the real time implications of tracking the long foretold serial number change-outs for those air conditioning filters by the astronauts on the space station. I have been involved in the years long saga of preparing, launching, and figuring out how to operate a 20 million dollar toilet from the Russian Space Agency.
I have sat next to the same 2 people for 2 years, and they have sat in their places for over a decade. Along with most of the other people in my group.
I have carefully planned multiyear academic pursuits and implemented them reacting and adapting to that which was not in my control, and seeing the impact in my life of having accomplished certain milestones.
A few weeks ago, I had a new badge issues to me from the Boeing company. It was without the "N" that designated me as "new." My image on the badge sports a goatee and collared shirt as opposed to the chubby gleeful "newby" in the t-shirt for my original badge.
My wife and I have worked to resolve issues that have been with us longer than the entire length of time that I was in high school.
I dont even try to find new music, or really listen to much music, as I once did. I make sporadic attempts to be current on world events, more for curiosity's sake than a fundamental desire.
We visit our families in Austin and Dallas every few months, and each time Grandma and Gramdpa, the cousins, the in laws, and ourselves are a little older. Some cousins move out of the house, some have growth spurts, Some dramatically alter their lives.
But I still am counting the toilet paper on the space station. This time for the 41st Russian "Progress" cargo spaceship to visit the station, as opposed to the 34th "Progress" ship that carried the first big delivery that I had planned out.
The return to the moon, a multi-decade program, has been cancelled. Myself and others speculate about other programs that could take a year or more to get going, and many more years to be borne to fruition, if they aren't cancelled with whoever is in charge years from now.
Life is moving fast and slow at the same time. I'm more concerned now with what I do today to make the hazy future better for my family and myself, rather than focus on how I want the future to be and shoehorn in the obligatory steps between daydreams.
I dont have too many friends, not too many that I spend a lot of time with.
I have my classes. And my church duties. And my wonderful wife. And my miraculous children. And the toilet supplies on the space station.
I dont even exercise, because a year ago my insurance denied coverage for me to get orthotics after my knees started hurting from my runs. This was after I had started a 6 month ramp-up of a regimented exercise regime that was to culminate in a marathon.
Mamie has gone from considering to training to competing in 2 triathlons in less than one year.
Our finances have fizzled through our misadventures in home ownership and landlording, and my view of wealth as it pertains to me has been reformed (or deformed) in my mind as a failed pot on a potters wheel is drenched in water and smashed into the wheel.
I finally bought a brand new mac and an iphone from the apple store. That was a big deal for me.
I spend 40 hours a week in an environment that is both changing and unchanging at the same time. The industry goes through it's convulsions, astronaut expeditions come and go, the crew size has increased to 6 on the space station from 3, and a dozen shuttle missions have amazingly been launched and flown successfully. My boss has not changed. My boss' boss was fired and replaced. His boss hasnt changed. His boss hasn't changed. His boss hasn't changed. His Boss hasn't changed. His boss did change. His Boss did not change. His bosses are the shareholders and the Board of directors, who have seen the stock go from $100 to $50 as the 787 program has gone from hotly anticipated pending launch to years and years behind scheduled delivery.
So the point of all this is about time. Whats in a year? A bunch of paychecks, a bunch of bills, regular visits to grandma and grandpa each time with bigger and brighter children. More progress toward being a great married couple. Some movies at the theatre, and more attempts to make a breakthrough at work with something grander than the toilet.
Whats in a day? Wake up with the kids (they are early risers!) Go to work and react or proact depending on what's going on. Return home to spend time playing, listening, reading, or holding the kids and wife. Maybe go somewhere after work, If I can get off early enough and if we have strength enough to pack the kids up and bring them out of the house.
Will I someday have a bunch of money to the point where I can pay for niceties that will make my family life more carefree and enjoyable? Will the infinite small steps that I do to provide for my family and myself add up or pan out to a big reward soon enough to make it all worth it?
My children. Is our mode of operation one that will yield happy, righteous, well adjusted, loving, secure, and proactive happy people? I think it is, but perhaps there is some other thing that I need to be doing. Should I throw my hand up with the extra things at work that may help me get a better job and just focus on the kids? Do I have the mental stamina to do both? Will my wife have the patience for me to do both?
I believe that God has a plan for me. I don't necessarily need to know what that plan is, and it may or may not be the plan that I think is the plan for my life (It probably isn't,) But I'm sure that God's plan will happen, so long as I let it.
Ramble, ramble, ramble.
2 years from now, My life will be totally different in some ways. In other ways, it may be exactly the same.
How much of this will be because of my choice, my inaction, my vision or my lack of imagination? How much of my life in two years will be due to the ideas and actions of my wonderful and industrious wife? How much will be because of the personality and needs of my current or future children? How much will be due to the hand of chance or the hand of God? Of market, industry, of political forces?
At this point? I don't even have the will to try to put together all the answer to the question above. Mamie and I have a good idea about how we want to be to each other, and we will work toward that. I always have ideas at work about the next big thing, And I'll keep on plugging away at something to get my above where I currently find myself. I'll keep on being the best father that I know how to, and enjoy the impossibly transient life of my incredible children as it flits by faster than I can even hope to gather it all in. Life will be how it is in 2 years.
I would not be surprised if we Benacs are in a totally different place doing totally new things.
I would also not be surprised if we Benacs were living in Houston doing pretty much the same thing (although I would probably be a little disappointed.)