Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What if you don't make it?

Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

I've been writing about the shuttle's impact on my life, about my journey to becoming an engineer, and about planning my studies.  Alas, I've gotten hung up on trying to write more about my adolescence, and specifically the parts related to space.  Does *anyone* ever have an easy adolescence?  I don't think I've heard of anyone who did.  But most of that isn't relevant.

One part, is.  See, all the time when I was trying to plan for my future, trying to build a secondary education on the primary foundation, the one question my Dad kept asking, over and over again, was "What if you don't make it?  What if you never become an astronaut?"

Truth is, I expected to have to work my way into the space program.  Get a degree, work somewhere else for a while, keep applying, maybe after I'd worked elsewhere for a decade or so, I'd eventually find a way in. I never expected that I would get one of those jobs, right out of college.

But I didn't have the words to say this to my father.  Didn't have the words to say that I'd keep on learning, building my skills, getting better at what I do until I made it happen.  Didn't have the words to say that I would be proud to have any role close to the space program at all.

In the novel, Magic's Pawn, Mercedes Lackey asks the question: Is it better to have loved, and lost, or never to have loved at all?  That's the question I think of, when I ponder what I would do if the layoffs hit me now.

One of the many reasons I changed jobs, was that the learning curve was nearly flat.  Doing something different, getting a different perspective -- that might not be a bad thing.  Change helps you grow.  If I do that, work on something different for a while, it might even be a strength, an improvement, that I could bring back to the work I love.

Once I realized that, I quit being afraid.

(1) "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"  by Dr. Seuss