So, I’m in Knoxville, TN, for a meeting. I got to visit some factories today where they make crystals for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners. (Don’t ask me how it works. Haven’t figured that out yet) Then I went to a factory where they assemble the scanners. It was positively fascinating, but in a way like going to an art museum but getting into a tour group whose leader spoke a language you weren’t familiar with. Afterward, we had dinner then played Xbox Kinect with the whole group on projection screens in various places in the room. It was fun. My colleagues are fun people.
That has nothing to do with this blog. I just thought you might be interested in my travels. Last time it was Leipzig, now it’s Knoxville. Aren’t I fancy?
I think sometimes I’m probably a jerk. I have opinions and when I feel strongly about them, I’m fairly vocal about them. Today, I sent a lot of e-mails with several opinions, mostly borne of experience but some borne of stray thoughts. From time to time, I’ve been known to say a thing or three without thinking first. I try not to do that anymore. Today, I made absolutely sure to think first and think hard.
I have a long time to go before I know what it means to be good, but perhaps if I compare myself to past versions of me, then I am gooder (yes, I know that’s not a word). I manage my time better. I think somewhat more before I talk. I love my family and neighbors more. I’m more inclined to talk to people who used to annoy me. And yet, I have so far to go.
I am too often slow to listen, fast to speak and faster to anger. Sure, I cover it up pretty good, but in my heart, I’m boiling over at stupid things. Oh, you said you were going to be here at 3:00 PM and now it’s 3:15? I’m boiling over, but I’ll greet you with a smile and a handshake and say it’s no problem. I don’t keep a tight reign on my tongue. I left your house in frustration? Well, even though it’s not your fault, really, I’ll find a way to make it personal and stab you with words sharper than a needle. Remember the myriad times I did that? I can. I do, daily, literally.
Sometimes, I look in a mirror and immediately upon turning forget what I look like.
But, dang it, I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to make our relationships better. I’m trying to surrender my desires in favor of those of my wife whenever possible. I’m trying to serve my friends whenever I can. My gifts are limited, but I can wield encouraging words, spreadsheets and a bass guitar with a certain aptitude. Let me know if I can help you out. I mostly think of myself as the first, but I know that if I want that title in the long run, then I must become last. Therefore, I’m trying to surrender. When I’m a jerk, it is not intentionally done. I’m usually trying to serve, but I haven’t really figured that whole deal out. How do you serve and be a leader? I get it conceptually, but I’m still learning how to do it practically.
I’m running the race, but I’m also in training. I think we all should be that way.
One time in 2003, my roommate, Ed, got a message from his mom on our voicemail that went into .HEREtoday. lore. It was in Spanish and English, but it ended with her saying, “Life is not easy. Life is hard.” I now know how true that is, but if you live with a mission, there is one last piece that needs to be added. Life is not easy. Life is hard. Life is good.
Learn and grow.