Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Debt

The older I get the more I lose my sense of ego.  I am having the privilege of becoming more humble as time goes on, and realizing that it is happening.  Which is a fascinating experience. 

In retrospect it seems that I owe a lot of people in my past a debt.  That debt can never be repaid, not in any currency anyway.  I owe them a debt of knowledge, growth, and self awareness.  Some of the lessons taught were harsh and some were kind.  All of them were necessary.

You see, I wouldn't be here today without them.  My life would have taken a very different path, of that I am sure.  Those lessons have become the foundation for my character and for who I still want to become in life. The people who supplied those lessons also supplied a snapshot of what those possibilities are.  Both good and bad.

So I paid attention to what the experiences taught me.  I continue to learn as I grow and mature.  The experience will always be the same, but the lesson will change with growth and time.

I have not always been ready for what I needed to be taught.  Time and retrospect allows me to learn even today. 

So to the people of my past, my sincerest thanks to you all.  Whether you were a friend or foe does not matter.  I took the experiences you provided and applied them to my life.  I learned from them.  And because of that I can move forward towards the man I want to be.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A little kindness

I just got some bad news over the weekend.  An incredibly kind person passed away.  She was 94.  I knew her and her husband 15 years ago in a tiny ghost town called Kilgore, Idaho.

It was January, and according to the locals, the worst winter anyone could remember.  It was 30 below zero every morning when we went to work, and on good days it got to minus 10.  There was 10 feet of snow on the ground.  Some mornings we had to use the truck exhaust to warm up the snow machines so they would start.  The job we were doing was crazy.  We tried to convince our client to hold off, but to no avail.  We shouldn't have been there.

But we were.  We were all pretty tough guys.  We'd spent a lot of time in the elements and had the right gear for the weather.  But nothing can prepare you for that grind of working 15 days straight in those conditions.  I didn't see the sun until the day we left and went home.  All of us had frostbite.  Pulled ribs, blown out knees, bad backs.  We were either breaking trail, or we were trying to snowshoe through rugged country.  Our bodies eventually had to give out.

The one bright spot in this adventure was that the two year round inhabitants of Kilgore took us under their wing.  An older couple who had lived and ranched in that valley for many years.  Their daughter lived one town over.  We got to know them all, even most of the people in the next town over.  They thought we were crazy.  And talk of crazy people spreads pretty quickly.

Those two showed us a kindness that seems to be disapearing today.  They took us in, looked out for us, and did their best to make sure we survived.  The didn't have to, but they were from a different era.  A different place in time and space.  I truly believe that we would never have been successful without them.  They always had a pot of coffee in the morning for us while we got ready.  They would call the road department to pull us out of the ditch if we didn't arrive by a certain time.  They made sure we all made it out of the back country every day.  They did their absolute best to help us nurse our wounds.

We knew they were beautiful souls, and that we were lucky to have that brief time with them.  Their kindness made us better, and made us want to be better.

He died of an accidental gun discharge on the ranch he loved.  We went to his funeral.

She died this last weekend of natural causes in the next town over.  With her daughter next to her.  I won't be able to go to hers.

Enough time has passed that my heart isn't broken, but I do feel a deep sadness.  They were extraordinary people, and my life has been better for knowing them.  Even for that short of a time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Making Due

Sometimes you have to make due with what you have.  It may be harder, take longer and in general be a huge pain in the ass.  But there are going to be times in life when it is just going to be what it is.  And, to be totally honest, there isn't a damn thing  you can do about it.

I've been in that situation for a little while now.  I've had to learn the quirks and personalities of things that should not have an ounce of either.  But there I was, talking to inanimate objects like they could hear me.  If someone actually saw me they would have been tempted to call the authorities.  And off to the loony bin I would have went.  Oddly enough, those things could get the whole range of emotions out of me.  From rage to quiet resignation and everything in between.

But just recently I got an upgrade.  Not the one I really wanted, but one that would help considerably.  I was ecstatic.  Finally I wouldn't be banging my head against the wall.  Finally I had some new tech that would alleviate my frustration.  Or so I thought.

That's the funny part about mixing the old and the new.  The problems that I was having simply disappeared.  And for a brief moment all was right with the universe.  But then problems I could not have imagined started to pop up.  And I was straight back to talking like a mad man.  All I can say is thank god for youtube and message boards.  It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one who has these issues.  Oh, and now I can at least try a few things to regain my sanity.

I see the point in all of this of course.  Just because it's new doesn't mean that it's going to make everything better.  It's just new, not a magic wand.

I think this is where we get all wound up in our society.  We all want new.  Thinking that it will solve all of our problems.  We want the bright shiny penny.  But it really doesn't make a difference in the end.  New won't get rid of our problems.  It won't placate our demons.  It's just new.

So next time I'll have high hopes that new will be helpful.  But I'll check my enthusiasm with the knowledge that it may just be new problems. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

A busy summer

It's been a while since I posted.  Sorry about that.  Once again, the summer has flown by.  We seem to have been consumed with projects.  One right after the other with no time in between.  We did finally get to take a long weekend to the lake.  Which was just what we needed. 

The weird part about that is that we were stressing out about it leading up to the trip.  Getting ready, doing this and that, traveling.  My brain was lying to me and saying that it was to much trouble.  Funny, when we got there it was exactly the thing we needed.  We relaxed, if just for a few days.  We didn't work on projects.  We let you batteries recharge.

I needed it.  Life has been hectic.

I think we all suffer from the same thing every once in a while.  We get so wound up in what we are doing we forget to step back and give ourselves a little space.  We forget that life isn't all about work, sometimes it's simply about leaning back and enjoying the view. 

I need to work on that.  I need to be able to step back, look at my life as a whole, and see what's really important.  I get buried in what I'm doing, and that's not a good way to live life.  You need to have a balance where you can get into the weeds, but you can also step back and look up.  See the actual forest, not just the trees.

I think I've known this since I was young.  But it's easy to forget these things when you think life has to be a certain way.  When you see the image of what you are expected to be as a man, father, husband.  It's an image I only have for myself oddly enough.  Other people don't put those expectations on me.  I put them on myself.

I'm going to try to use this as a wake up call of sorts.  To give myself a little space to enjoy life a little more and try to worry a little less.  And to attempt to break the shackles of the expectations I put on myself as a younger man.

Maybe I can grow a little young again.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Street Corner Jesus

I think I’m getting grumpy in my old age.  At a minimum I’m getting a little less tolerant, that’s for sure.  I was driving around my small little town the other day and there must have been 5 pan handlers that I saw in different areas.  Mind you, my town is not very big.

Now, I don’t know these peoples stories.  They could be homeless.  The could be addicts.  I didn’t stop to ask.

What I do know is this, I work.  I work a lot of hours.  I spend a lot of time away from my family in order to provide for them.  And the older I get the more I realize what the actual cost of that is.  Not in dollars, but in time and memories.  Time I don’t get to spend with my wife and kids.  School functions I can’t attend.  Games I can’t go watch.  It’s the deal a lot of us have willingly made for my family.

I also pay my taxes.  And I know that there are services available to help people in need.  Not only through the government, but civic organizations and churches.  Places these people can go that really need the help.

There is a part of me that keeps saying I shouldn’t judge.  I don’t know their story.  But when you see the same guy standing on a corner for two weeks straight with a sign I have to start asking, why isn’t he supporting himself just like I do?  Where is his sense of personal responsibility?  Why should I support that person, who obviously has no desire to go out and support themselves?  If I hold myself to that standard then I should be able to hold them to it as well.

I know it’s not “Christian”.  Thou shalt not cast the first stone and judge not.  But at what point do I get to judge?  How many people get to stand on a street corner and play on peoples charity before we all say enough is enough?  How long will it be before we start telling people that they have to be productive, and there are no free rides?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But at some point we all have to expect a certain amount of personal responsibility out of each other.  We should all be striving to live up the expectations of our greatest self.

I believe we should always offer our hand to help someone up.  But we should do so with the expectation that they are striving to stand up and move forward, not sit back down and write another cardboard sign.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An Old Dog

Except for a few rare instances I’ve done just about everything I can do when it comes to my profession.  At least that is what I’ve thought for a while.  I’m coming to the grand conclusions that I may have been wrong about that.

Technology is advancing so quickly it’s getting harder and harder to keep up.  You figure out how to do something today, and tomorrow the procedure changes and your back to square one.  I guess that is part of what is so nice, and frustrating, about what I do.  The basic principles haven’t changed in a long time.  As a matter of fact, if you were inclined to do so, you could still do most of what I do with paper and pencil.  God forbid that should ever happen though.  It would take me forever to get anything done.

So it becomes a game of trying to at least stay on the curve when it comes to technology.  I’ve seen a lot of it come and go.  Some of it was good.  A lot of it was bad.  And it was all touted as being the end all, be all, for getting the job done.  “It will save you so much time you won’t believe it.”  And for the cost it better have.  Although, as we move ahead, the tech seems to be a lot more good than bad.  Even if it doesn’t play well with others at times.

So where does that leave me?  Watching a whole shitload of youtube videos, reading a whole bunch of message boards, and looking over product documentation.  All I can say about that is “thank god someone else screwed it up before I did and asked the manufacturer a question” and then posted it online.  A little trial and error goes a long way when all of the questions have already been asked.
I’m not complaining.  I could be stuck in some dead end job that requires no thought or creativity.  The day goes by a lot faster when I’m busy and being challenged.  It also has the added benefit of keeping me mentally sharp.

Who says an old dog can’t teach itself a few new tricks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wasting Time

I’ve stopped watching t.v.  It’s been a recent event, but it has been an eye opener for me.  I hate to think of all the wasted hours sitting in front of that thing, zoned out of my own life.  There has been a few things that I have notice during this last few weeks of not having my electronic babysitter in front of me.

First, I have a whole lot more time on my hands.  It’s the exact same amount of time I have always had, but my brain doesn’t get the chance to check out.  Hence, I get a whole lot of projects done, and I seem to have a lot more time to do things.  For example, I spent the entire day last Friday getting projects done.  When 8 p.m. rolled around I was not sure what the hell to do with myself.  I was contemplating going fishing, but it was getting dark.  

Second, I pay a lot more attention to my wife and kids.  At least it seems that way.  I play trivial pursuit with my 7 year old.  She reads the questions, with some help, and I try to answer them without using google.  We do it every night before bed.  She loves it, and lets be honest, my brain could use the workout.

I have wasted a lot of time in my life doing stupid things.  But most of those granted me a few memories at least.  T.V. never did that.  I can’t remember a single time that I have a memory of something on T.V., except possibly 9/11 or the Challenger tragedy.  But those two don’t count.
Maybe I’m starting to feel the clock ticking as I get older.  I don’t know.  I guess it really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I have recognized the fact that I can easily fall into that trap of wasting the time I do have.  I think I’ll continue down this road for a while, and see where I end up.

Time is a precious thing.  We only get so much of it.  It’s too bad it took me until 45 years old to realize that.