Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Beam Me Up

Captain Kirk Has Skills.

Thanks to Jeremy Gerking for this link. I wish I could take credit for finding it, but I really can't.

"In the game of life it's a good idea to have a few early losses, which relieves you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season."

-- Bill Baughan

Human beings have a remarkable characteristic that I believe to be unique among known life forms.

As a human I can stop at any point and analyze my history to see how I arrived where I now stand. Can any other organism really do this? It's hard to believe they could, but then again crows can make tools for a specific job and dolphins have been shown to do math. I guess nothing surprises me anymore. I think the difference between us and dolphins and crows may be that, even if they are able to look back at their lives and see that the choices they made are directly responsible for where they are, they do not have the reflective moments we have as people. If they do, what are the ramifications? Ah, I am getting off track.

My point is that its really easy to track my life back to some choices I have made. Its astonishing, really, to follow this and find the nuances that now describe and encompass me, Aaron, as a person, doing what I do today, right now. The next question that enters my feeble brain becomes, logically (right brain virgo at work), how do my choices right now affect my future "today?" And does that forethought enhance or diminish my choice making?

When I was 7 years old I made the choice to cut a popsicle stick down the middle with a brand new swiss-army pocket knife. This choice resulted in slicing my thumb wide-open from nail to wrist, veins and tendons hanging out for the world to see. My next choice was to dash into the bathroom so that my family would not notice this 5 inch bleeding mess that was my little hand. Stitches and the pain of healing taught me a lot, as does the fine scar that will forever remind me not to do such a stupid thing. I suppose that's called "learning." I look back now and shake my head at that stupid kid who, in all honesty, knew better. I made a choice and it still affects my decisions. And after many choices since then resulting in bodily harm and mangling of appendages and my face I now have little fear of injury or pain, which may or may not be a good thing.

I made a random choice when I was 21 to get a new apartment in Bellingham. I was making enough money to support the change from my 350 sq. ft. masterpiece, and I was nervous about the neighborhood. Whatever the reason, I moved to this nice little place with a view on the other side of downtown and this choice led to my meeting Scott. Scott ended up playing a very pivatol role in my life, introducing me to the Oil and Gas mineral leasing business and generally being a darn good buddy, to this day, almost 8 years later. Truly inflluential point in my life, all because of the choice to move. Scott rang the ships bell at my wedding in 2005, even.

When I was 23 I made the choice to leave my successful job as a software developer and return to the world of science, in the form of drug development. This meant moving from my beloved town of Bellingham to Seattle (Bothell) which had, at that point, a much higher cost of living. It also meant a pay-cut and inevitably was going out on a huge limb. I did not put the amount of thought one might assume goes into a decision with such weight (read as, i was dropping everything in my life for something brand new and untested) but inside I remember convincing myself that successful people take chances at the right times. I decided to take a chance. I started at Sonus Pharmaceuticals soon after making the decision and the unfolding of events was dramatic and has ultimately been the driver of where I am now. It didnt start out easy; I was confident but ignorant, my long-term, long-distance relationship ended very shortly after, and I was not making much money. However, the confidence and willingness to do whatever they asked of me paid-off well and soon I was making good enough money to support a fine bachelor/tri-geek lifestyle and was learning new skills that eventually drove me to make another enormous decision--the return to school for my PhD.

Moving to Bothell for work would be a lie. I was moving AWAY from Bellingham to explore. I knew then I did not have a destination; perhaps destinations are our greatest limitation. I truly believe I would not be married to the best woman on Earth right now if I had not moved. I would not have a beautiful house and the chance to earn my PhD (because it never appealed to me before I went to Sonus). Along the way it was difficult to change so much so quickly, and there were moments I didn't know where I was going and if I would like it when I got there (isnt that all of our fear, really?). I can only take comfort in knowing that I am still not there.

But the journey is terrific.

1 comment:

mossygirl said...

In a job interview, someone asks, "where do you picture yourself in 5 years?"

What in the hell are they thinking? Do you get up and walk out right then because the fact that they asked that kind of question shows how closed minded they are and that working for them will be a dead end? Or do you step up to the challenge of explaining just what you have right here?

How can we ever know what's around the corner? We can't, and sometimes, the endless possibilities lay out before me like a "Choose your own adventure" book from 3rd grade and the challenge becomes overcoming the paralysis of too many choices. Choice made or not, you will move on, and not making that choice is as pivotal as making it.

Not making a choice kept me stuck in a painful, bad relationship, but if I had made that choice sooner, I might not be married to the best boy around; I might not have my little dog, and I might not have been able to get into my current career.

It truly is all about the journey, and I am ever so grateful to have a wonderful partner to share it with.

Where do I see myself in 5 years? Doing what makes me happy.