While using the elliptical machine at the gym today, I had an epiphany. Well, sort of anyway. As I watched my heart rate climb (which is important to do at my age) I noticed according to the manufacturer’s chart (placed conspicuously by the display) I had actually gone back in time. Yes, conferring to the chart I had either metaphysically reverted to my twenties again, or I was on a torrid pace for a massive coronary. Looks can be deceiving, eh?
Back at work I am watching as one of my projects comes to fruition. (I actually perform work at the plant from time to time) We are installing a new air compressor, and the piping had been completed, the electrical service and controls were in place; all that remained was for a factory start-up technician to drop by and make sure we had everything as it should be before powering the unit into service. I scheduled the visit last week and following a lot of red tape, our technician was slated to arrive this morning at 8 AM. Of course, things being as they are these days, he didn’t arrive until after lunch.
When he arrived, my first thought was that he was simply too young to be a very good technician. He had a funny haircut and an accent that did not bode well for communicating with the good people of the South. Don’t get me wrong, he seemed nice enough, but what closed the deal for me and my obviously not-so-great first impression was the bracelet on his arm. It was one of those ‘fun bracelets’ that the kids are wearing these days, you know the ones, plastic-colored little animals and such until you put them on your wrist and then they simply look like raggedy scraps of who-knows-what. I tried to hide my disappointment, and instead assigned my best technician to work with him. And of course I also made sure I was in the general area to look over his shoulder in case things went downhill. I was almost certain by this point that they would.
What followed next bordered on the surreal. He went through several checks on the machine before applying power, using a well-used lap-top he had produced from somewhere deep within his greasy tool bag. While he made his very thorough checks, he even took the time to point out things to my technician that could possibly cause problems for us later on down the road. As the afternoon wore on, I got to know him a little better and it turns out he is a pretty sharp guy. But more than that, he was a joy to be around as he punctuated each step of the process with a joke or a well-told story from another job that may prove relevant to how we operate the machine once he is gone. Within a few hours or so he had the machine humming to life and it ran as smooth as catfish skin.
Somewhere along the way he noticed my side-glance infatuation with the bracelet, and offered me an explanation, although I had politely not asked. As a technician, he is on the road a lot and has a six-year-old daughter back at home. She gave him the bracelet, and told him to wear it so he ‘would not forget her.’ That bracelet had a lot of meaning to him, and knowing the story I was ashamed of my first impression. Who was I to judge without knowing the whole story?
Due to his mannerisms, as well as accessories such as a child’s bracelet, I am willing to bet he gets a lot of false first impressions when he visits places like our plant. Strangely enough, I believe after getting to know him better that he does not mind at all. You see, he has something in his demeanor I may have had at one time in my life, and have simply forgotten how it feels to be that way. So many times, so many days, I have been guilty of letting life control me, and not letting myself control life, which is the way it should be - and the way G_d designed us to be.
Most of the time, I wake each morning with a memorized list of things I have to do and a schedule I must keep. There are bills to be paid, children to be fed, and a boss to satisfy – I know the score and how the game is played. I’m pretty good at it by this point in my life. But there has to be more to this than merely keeping a schedule and doing the required things and handling the responsibilities I face as an adult. If not then why am I here and what is this ‘life’ I live really all about? Is the world simply spinning and forcing me to hang on for one more hour, one more day, and if it all works out the weekend will be my only reward? Has my life become nothing more than waiting for four o’clock on Friday? That is quite a sobering thought.
The writer of Ecclesiastes put it this way: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” If I get to the end of the line and find out that all I did was work, come home, watch TV, eat, and sleep for sixty or seventy years, I’ll have a very sad existence to look back upon. There is so much more to this glorious thing we call life. There is a wife to be kissed, children to hug, flowers to smell, and a dog that needs a scratch behind the ears. There are friends to share things with, and birthday parties to attend. There are birds to hunt and fish to catch, and motorcycles begging to be ridden. Most important of all, there are personal times for me to praise G_d for giving me this opportunity to live in such a special world, a world He created, and in turn filled it up to the proverbial brim with very special people.
I’ll remember that tomorrow and be grateful when the elliptical machine transports me back to my youth. And you might just catch me wearing a silly little bracelet as I do so.
Ah, probably not on the latter, but you get my drift…