Phases. Cycles. To everything is a season.
In May of 1991, fresh graduate degree and commission in hand, my trusty little Mazda and I headed further south than I had ever traveled – to Biloxi Mississippi for Air Force tech training. While there I spent weeks learning how to program databases in a software package called Enable and learning about the color arrangement of lights on the runway. After class we ran the track and did drill. That July, my Mazda and I headed in the opposite direction – to Minot, North Dakota and my active duty assignment… where I never once programmed a database in Enable (Microsoft Office came out just as I arrived) and I never once was asked to explain the pattern of lights on runway. I didn’t run a track much in Minot either – although I did pick up on the 90’s fitness craze of step aerobics (complete with snazzy purple spandex and slouchy socks). Still, that time in Biloxi was the start of an era.
We really never know what direction life will take and I consider it a strength that I never much obsessed over it. My decision process has always boiled down to “which choice sounds more interesting?”. Choose, and go for it. So, orders to Minot, ND? No problem! Little did I know, on my first day in Minot that I would get lost trying to find my office. Or, that the helpful guy that asked if I was lost and showed me the way that first day would end up helping me find my way for the rest of my life.
25 years. Passed by in the flash of an eye. Marriage, kids, more grad school, moves, job changes, struggles, successes – the stuff of “adulthood”. Childhood, adolescence, college – Phase I. Adulthood – Phase II. Then, the kids find their own wings and move on to their own phase II – and the transition occurs – Phase III.
By chance, we passed through Biloxi again last month, during another transition. And again, the transition is taking me to North Dakota – this time with my trusty Nissan. Another chance to explore an opportunity that sounds fascinating, if a bit overwhelming. Definitely challenging. I’ve been invited to teach graduate school pathophysiology in the physician’s assistant program.
With new challenges, I work best by immersion – by focusing deeply and completely on mastery of the new task. So, soon, I head back to North Dakota. It’s where phase II began – and I welcome the challenge of Phase III. In a sense, North Dakota is home. It’s where I met and married that helpful, supportive, and (mostly) patient guy – it’s where my two amazing kids were born. Sure, it’s a little cold there… that’s why I’m headed there “soon”, not “now”. I may always be up for a challenge, but I kind of need to ease back into those winters slowly…