I was able to travel a great deal during the latter part of my three decades at NCAR. When our administrator of many years, Maria, decided to retire, her position as the organizer for our boss Mickey's many conferences and workshops around the world fell to me. I was responsible for finding a venue for the meeting, making the arrangements to get the scientists and researchers to that place, and he knew that if it was a place that most people would otherwise not be able to visit, he could attract well-known and otherwise unattainable scientists to attend and provide their expertise.
It was also my job to take notes during the meeting so we could collaborate, he and I, on a report for the proceedings and get it onto the Web. These reports are all still available through his website now located at the University of Colorado. The meeting we held in Hanoi in 2006 is available here, just as an example of the work I did. I was especially proud of how this report turned out.
But now all that seems so far in the past, and I'm moving into new directions in my life. I no longer have any desire to spend my limited energy fulfilling another person's vision, as I did for Mickey during all those years. Even though I retired in 2008, Mickey talked me into going to Skopje, Macedonia for one last meeting in April 2009, and it was so much work that I realized I just can't continue doing it any more. I needed that one last push to realize it's time to move into another phase of life.
I want to find out what I might be able to develop within my own sphere of influence, and this blog has helped me find my way to another aspect in my life. I was so busy and preoccupied during my working years that I never had the time or inclination to even wonder about these things. Now, it's like I'm standing at another threshold and taking stock.
Yesterday while I was on my Saturday morning walk with the Fairhaven walking group, I met a woman who has just returned from 18 months in China. She was there learning Mandarin. Although I didn't find out much else about her, it was enough for us to make a connection and share our experience of the vast differences in the culture between the United States and China. It made me realize that even though I have little desire to return to that part of the world, I am permanently changed by those experiences and cherish what I have learned. The old adage about travel broadening one's outlook is definitely true.
But I realize that there must be a time and a place for travel, and another time to reflect and contemplate the here and now. I am fortunate in my many memories of places I've been and people I've known. As I begin this new month of May, I'm feeling pretty happy about the present moment and a poem of Emily Dickinson's comes to mind.
How much the present moment meansI am always struck by Emily's ability to use words to their full advantage. Since she wrote this poem in the middle of the nineteenth century, some of the words are no longer used in quite the same way, but "fop" still means someone who is overly concerned with their looks; "carp" refers to someone who continually finds fault with others, and "atheist" is one who believes God does not exist. The essence of this poem hits me deep within my heart and reminds me to look beyond every day to the torrents of eternity.
To those who've nothing more —
The Fop — the Carp — the Atheist —
Stake an entire store
Upon a Moment's shallow Rim
While their commuted Feet
The Torrents of Eternity
Do all but inundate —
I wish you and yours a peaceful and reflective May.