Saturday, May 3, 2008

Turning Points

Growing up, I used to love listening to Mets games on WFAN. This was back in the Davey Johnson era, and back when Bob Murphy was still the Voice of the Mets. One part of the broadcast that I always looked forward to was the "Turning Point of the Game" which Murphy would announce and then replay the original call of a home run, key hit, or defensive stop that turned the tide for the winning team. The great challenge for my seven year-old mind, of course, was guessing what play would get the honors. I was usually wrong, but somehow that never took the fun away.

I definitely didn't plan this, and didn't even realize it until after it had 'happened' but as I sat down to write today, I realized that I had come to one of the most significant 'Turning Points' in my life to date: I'm not waiting for anything to end.

Let me explain.

In high school, I always had college just over the horizon. If there was anything that personally didn't *work* or I didn't like about what I was doing, I could tell myself (rightly or wrongly), "Well, college is coming soon, so it'll all work itself out then. I'll be away from home, have more freedom, be around more people my age, etc."

College was great in many ways (and funnily, my best memories of 'college' are almost all of times I wasn't actually at the campus), but I never really got that I-don't-want-this-to-end feeling. Again, I could rationalize just about anything with, "Well, this isn't the real world. I don't have a car, don't have any money, and don't really live in a lasting, stable community. In the real world, everything will be better."

That extended into the next year (student teaching and Master's), which was sort of just like a 5th year of college, except in a colder locale and with a different, new set of responsibilities. An (un) cooperating teacher and a Marxist advisor made things difficult, to the point that I was literally counting down the days towards the end.

The 15 months where I waited to go to OCS were characterized mainly by "hurry up and wait" to mark time.

Then came about a year or so of training. Again, a legitimate, reasonable time to look over the horizon to what was coming next.

Then came my first command. Now, don't get me wrong -- I loved every minute of every day I spent there. I also loved the deployment I did with *my* command (but not so much for the times I augmented someone else's command). In fact, I would say the deployment from 2006 to 2007 was the single greatest experience of my life to date.

But because a) I was always gone, and b) I loathed the place where I lived, I still wasn't *there.* Outside of work, I never found the community that I looked for. I sort of just lowered my shoulder, used the time to get smarter and stronger, and worked with the detailer to figure out how to get myself up here to New England.

Well, all of a sudden, I realized, I really am *here.*

** I love my job. I won't even try to describe it but it's very cool. It's 180-degrees out from my last job, but exciting in its own, different way. It's a chance to learn about an entirely different community. Since Chief and I are starting our Department from scratch, it's also our chance to write our own playbook.

** I love my place. I've got the top floor end unit with a sweet view of downtown. With two stories, tons of space, and friendly neighbors, I love walking into the place every time I come home. I've never felt that way before about anywhere that I've lived. Also, I have a sense of ownership that probably springs from the fact that I, well, own it.

** I love my community. I've only lived in Lowell now for just over a month, but so far it's exactly how I pictured it would be. I'm getting to know tons of people, everything is becoming more and more familiar, and I'm starting to see the vision take shape, albeit slowly.

I'll eventually switch over to the Guard. I'll eventually get a full-time civilian job teaching or defense contracting. I'll eventually start my Master's at the War College in Newport, an MBA in Boston, both, or neither. I'll eventually sell my condo and move into a house. I'll eventually deploy overseas again.

All these things will happen in time, but I'm not marking time until they do. And if there's anything I don't like about what I'm doing, there's no magical *later* to fix it. If it's a skill I wish I had (like advanced swimming or Tae Kwon Do) there's no more valid once-things-come-together type of excuse for not doing it.

For the first time, I am here.


KD said...

It must be a wonderful feeling to have both feet under you while happily you stand in Lowell.

It's funny, but although I have lived in Asheville for a number of years, love my community; have work that I feel is fulfilling and important; and enjoy playing in these mountains, I still always have something on the horizon. I'm always looking to the next challenge or adventure and need to remind myself that life right now is pretty nice.

You are eloquent in your observations; I enjoy reading.

The New Englander said...


Glad you liked the post and thanks for your kind words about the blog itself. I've really liked a lot of your serious stuff and have also laughed out loud at things like the Irish girl throwing the clothes behind the piano...if it's alright w/you, I'd like to link 12:52 to this blog's main site...

As for enjoying/appreciating the here and now, I like your point..and remember, that's just half the battle -- the other half is not falling into the *later trap*, as in, this bad habit or thing I'm omitting isn't right but I'll fix it...later. A present-focused mentality doesn't allow that..

-the new englander