I typically do not spend time writing about my personal life outside of the articles of where I am, where I am going when I am adventuring out and about.
I think a lot of that just has to do with how I view my own personal life. I don’t really take time to reflect much upon it. I kind of just do things when I can, never really paying any attention to how or why I get there.
The last several months I have had a lot of time to reflect this, not in the sense of time off not doing anything, but more looking forward.
As mentioned in earlier posts this year, I had a large project that tied me up 7 days a week for a few months. This ran into when I was originally planning to take my “summer” vacation up north to the Cassiar and around in Canada.
So with that out of the way and canceled, I was hoping things we slow down after that, and allow me to possibly do my southern run down through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. That didn’t pan out either, as I took on a new role at work, forcing me to spend more time getting up to speed with my new position.
Part of these changes that happened this year included the decommissioning of the data center I was in charge of, and have been for the last 5 years. It also meant the shutting down of our large office, layoffs, and the shrinking of departments.
For nearly 6 years, I’ve worked day in and day out (and lots of long nights) with a small, yet brilliant team in my group.
Of the 4 of us, by the end of this year, only 2 will remain, one of which was let go recently.
I was made aware early on in the project of these changes, and somehow I managed to squeak by. The following months and currently I have continued to spend time trying to help my other team members find opportunities in their career field.
In a recent conference call with a gentleman that I have worked on this project from the time it was announced, asked me a question I had been asked in the past several times, “Why are you so different?”.
It is a question I have been asked before by various individuals within our organization. They are asking about why I seem to not let things bother me, stand firm with my opinions, but able to listen to theirs and come to a mutual conclusion, and to just get the job done. Typically I would answer that it is the desert rat farm boy in me, but this time I had a different answer. It was a combination of things, and how certain events, or people influenced my way of thinking through life. I simply said “I have been fortunate to have great influences in my life”.
Sure, the hard working, and work until the job is done is influenced by my father. That is what farming is about. You can’t just leave the crops in the field and take care of it on your time, you have to do it on their time. When it’s ready, it’s ready.
But there are other subtle things that have influenced me, little bits from various people that have molded my way of thinking, how I treat people, and how I react to situations both personal and professional.
As mentioned, I learned from my father, he taught me to work hard, and to be proud of the work you do. But don’t be too proud, as it will make people resent you.
My mother taught me that even though someone else may have plans for you, you are ultimately the one who has to decide what you want to do, and how you do it.
These are fundamental building blocks that would push me into the next several years of my childhood and teenage years.
I of course learned the same lesson everyone does eventually, that all because you were friends in High School, doesn’t mean you will continue to be close friends after.
Of the several friends I had in High School, I only communicate with a couple of them anymore that I could tell you what they are doing, these two I have known since Grade School.
Owen I have known from kindergarten, and I still consider to be one of my best friends, even though we don’t talk nearly as much as we once did, and certain events drove us apart for several years. But he was my original riding buddy. We’d spend hours exploring the surrounding area where we lived on our bikes, and it is things like this that reinforced my adventure side.
Marcus I met in the 4th Grade. Our school district decided to try something new, by making one of the Grade Schools Kindergarten through 3rd, while the other was 4th through 6th before moving on to Jr. High. These changes took place going into my 4th grade.
Marcus has been that friend that I talk to the most. Couple reasons being that we shared similar interests in computers after high school, so we stayed in touch via IM often. He went off to be a digital graphics designer in Seattle, and eventually I moved up to this area. Marcus is my best link to my past, he remembers things I have a hard time remembering. Like he remembers me being an ass. Interesting, I can’t remember any of that… 🙂
In 2004, I lost my closest and best friend that I had from Grade School. Her passing taught me that those we hold close and love are also mortal, and one day you will no longer see them, and that those who hold you close, will one day not see you. It is also the first time that I truly understood the meaning of “Life is short”. It was this single event that would push me to get out and try new things while I could. It is also what has kept me sheltered in some respects.
Those are the people who most influenced me through my teenage years and into my early 20’s.
Eventually I would meet others who would influence me in one way or another.
Beige I met in early winter of 2000 and has become one of my greatest friends. One of the few friends I actually made living in Oregon. She taught me you don’t have to see eye to eye on everything (or anything really) to be friends. She also enjoyed going out and about in the mountains so it gave me someone to take along when just wanting to waste a tank of fuel and explore the area. Twelve years later we still communicate several times a week, and one of the reasons I look forward to visiting Oregon.
Michael I would meet online through an Admin program with Microsoft Gaming Studios. He introduced me to a deeper world of computer’s than I was familiar with. I considered myself pretty savvy when it came to PC’s, but that was just PC hardware and the windows operating system. He would be the one to introduce me to the world of Servers, Unix and Linux. It would be because of him, that I would give up being a chainsaw mechanic, and with his help move on to furthering my education.
A co-worker at Costco in 2000-2001 taught me something I continue to use in my professional career. When I was going to college, and holding a job, money of course was tight. Cara would offer up a shift of hers once in awhile leading up to the announced layoffs so I could get a little extra income. I tried to repay the kindness that she showed, but she never accepted.
As I eventually took on Team leader, Management, and influential roles in my career where I could directly influence those around me, I often looked back at this moment of my life, and pass it on. This is what would lead me to make sure that people I worked with felt welcome, needed, and most of all, apart of something. It is why I would find something for a team member to do, when I knew they needed a little extra time to get by during the holiday season, or so they could afford to take off some time for a small vacation. It is the reason I look at job listings, and speak with my network of friends in this industry locating work for those I know will be laid off. This single event in my life shaped me more than she could probably could have imagined. And because of this, several years later, I am still as much thankful for that random act of kindness, as I was then.
I think what disturbs me the most though about that bit of influence is that I never kept in contact with her following the lay off, and me moving on to other companies as I moved my way into the IT field. It would be a couple years before I realized the direct influence that was made by that event in my life, and by that time it was too late. I never did see her again, and at a time when phones could not be backed up, a lost cell phone would sever the only method of contact I had for her.
I would eventually move from Portland back to Hood River, and I took on another job, one which I was laid off quickly from due to cutbacks, and then my first “Management” job with a company in The Dalles.
This company’s owner helped me grow my knowledge base, and 3 years later, I would with the help of Marcus, find myself working for the company I am working for currently in the Seattle area.
Since then, I have made several acquaintances and most of all, some great friends. One of which, who’s recent loss of one of his greatest friends, and largest influences in his life due to cancer, reminded me to reflect upon my own and the people that directly influenced it.
I can’t help but think years from now, how I will most likely look back and realize how then, they influenced me. But that of course, is for another time.
And with that, until next time.