Bright winter sun streams in thru the dirty office window that I sit behind. It feels warm and hopeful. It feels like its aging my skin. But I don’t mind. With age comes wisdom, and at least then I am not a pasty white engineer type. Thanksgiving was WONDERFUL. I have a great family, full of talented and resilient people. I have their DNA.
Little neon sticky notes pepper my desk and computer screen and I know I should stop typing and get to the equipment list that I need to finish (start?). But somehow this serene Friday after Thanksgiving is begging me to breathe and reflect and be all sappy. And to maybe go find a bagel in the kitchen.
Hope. I hope there is a blueberry one left. I hope I am productive today. I hope people realize that relationships are never over. Their roots linger long after we have tried to remove them. I used to think compartmentalization was necessary and just the way things were…but I am reminded that God only wiped the slate clean once. After that, he said no matter how grave it gets, I will chase you. I will woo you back to me. No matter where you go, what you do, if you are mine and intended for me, I will find you and keep you and redeem you. No matter how broken your bones are, my breath is sufficient to make them dance again.
When I was a kid I had really bad handwriting. I was ashamed of it because it was the only thing I couldn’t seem to get good grades in. It was the source of a dreaded reprimand from my teacher. My aunts and parents worked with me to correct it. I would start a paper or an essay or math homework and halfway through I would look at how messy it was and rip it out crumple it up and start over. My handwriting improved but my method did not. In math, I did so much of it in my head or in my very unorthodox code, which consisted of maybe writing down every third figure and surely not in neat straight lines. It made showing my work to teachers feel very much like lifting my dress over my head. I didn’t understand why they wanted to know how I got there? If the final answer was right…why did it matter how I got there? I never got there like they did anyway.
Into college and after the advent of word processing I would do much the same thing. I never wanted record of changes, or mistakes, so I would rarely track them. I would not keep first drafts. I couldn’t even seem to follow proper procedure in my chemistry lab books, no erasing, white-out or scratching through was allowed. You had to draw one single line through your error so that everyone could still see it. Then you had to initial it. As if to say, “I am LEM and this is the color of my underwear on 11/12/08.” Even as I saw the tracking of these errors as neon signs pointing to the chinks in my armor of perfection, the wise profs saw the value of this process. They (whoever they were) realized that the process of recording what was done, right down to the mistake, was important to the final product and for looking back over decision making processes. They also knew that if you go into battle with chink-y armor, that isn’t a good thing.
Now (that I am old, wise and sun-damaged) I keep everything. It’s taken me seven years of hard learning, but I keep all of my chicken scratches that I write on my engineering drawings in three large bank boxes under my desk. This means I have had to stop doodling and recording unhelpful meeting commentary..i.e. “Wow, Joe Schmuckatelli has excessive ear hair”. This also means I have to keep the boxes away from the space heater. I keep a ratty book of my process flow diagrams for work for the duration of the project now. It becomes so cool. With all of the different colors of pen, all the notes and data, the layers of thought and dog-eared pages. I refer back to it constantly, I teach others with it and it saves me so much time.
All this nerdy-ness is my way of illustrating that the process is important. With stuff, but even more with people. I used to be so much more endpoint oriented, final-polished-product oriented. I left out the value and the beauty of the process.
Perfect example would be my basketball career. Not many people can say that they have four national championship rings, I very much can. But I also know about my shortcomings and things I did during that time that more resembled sausage-making than living a dream-like journey. That process was overlooked and unimportant to me compared to getting the ring at the end of the year. The endpoint was praised, but it was so fleeting and empty, I wish I had done the journey part better, especially with respect to relationships with people and with respect to taking care of myself physically, and spiritually.
There were no blueberry bagels, but there is still Hope.