Hearing so many people talk yesterday about the impact of the Obama election made me recall the times in my life when cosmic forces just seem to align in a certain way to produce profound change. For lack of a better title, I'm calling such events "It" moments. Now I'll say right off the bat that, while I am proud as an American that we've broken a racial barrier in electing Barack Obama as President, I don't consider that event to be one of the "It" moments in my life. So what have been the "It" moments in my life? Well here are a few:
Age 15-16: Summer Camp
I worked as a dishwasher in a summer camp for two seasons. It was just a terrific job. I was young, hardworking and not affraid. The job was perfect for me; although it didn't pay much ($60/week as I recall, but I got all the food I wanted plus free lodging), I had a blast. I remember sitting in my cabin with the older people I worked with, listening to album 1. side 1 of The Beatles White Album. I think it was here where I discovered the real joy in being independent and how being alone wasn't alwasy a bad thing.
Age 19: Going Away To Collect
I went away to college for my Junior and Senior years to Penn State Harrisburg. As was the case at summer camp, I think this was impactful for me because once again I had to be independent, and I had the chance to see possibilities beyond in myself and the world around me that I had somehow missed before. That's not to say that the whole experience was sunshine, smiles & rainbows..."It" moments aren't always that way be definition...but never the less it profoundly changed me. I remember my first visit to the campus (with my friend at the time Tom), thinking once I got there that "this was the place". To this very day I still dream about Penn State Harrisburg...about being there...about going to class...about experiencing that life again, one more time.
Age 23-24: Birth of My Oldest Daughter
I am very glad that I didn't wait until I was older to become a father. Having a child changes you in ways that are at best difficult to explain. Until then, it's tough to imagine, for example, willingly giving up your life for someone else, but when you have chidren, it's as if all of the very rules you govern yourself by change in a moments notice. Watching children grow, from helpless infants to arguing teenagers & beyond is truly one of life's great experiences. Sure, the struggles are nothing short of tremendous on many levels. I'm still not sure how I'm going to afford college tuition when I have to going to school at the same time. However, one of the things you learn as a parent is that the answers come....they always do.