Opportunities Lost?

Life, it has been interesting the past few days.  Perhaps as a way to avoid thinking too much of the here and now, I’ve found myself thinking of the past and future.

April of 2009 has been of some interest to me.  Exactly a year ago I was making my final decision to go or not to the Purdue TLT conference.  I decided “yes”, so just two weeks later, I’m driving a rental car from southwest Missouri to West Lafayette Indiana, listening to Neal Stephenson‘s “Anathem” all the way there (and most of the way back).

In a brief aside, the book was a great listen, one of the few audio book experiences I’ve had.  Even that long drive was no where near enough to hear it all, and attempts to listen to it since have failed.  I found I cannot have an audio book I like as background; I’ll either listen to it ignoring all else, or ignore it while trying to do other things; I cannot do both.

The big draws for this conference were geographic proximity, lower costs (free to attend, just out travel expenses), and the keynote presented by Intellagirl.  I had read some of her presentations after the fact, and/or viewed them when broadcast online, and was looking forward to experiencing one in person.  I was not disappointed by any aspect of the trip, for the entire time I was at Purdue.  Getting to meet folks (either for first time or after knowing via Twitter) like intellagirl, davideisert, kevinoshea, kimberlyarnold, jlknott was awesome, and I even got to “hang out with the cool kids” one evening.   Fond memories.

Thoughts of the future, seem to hinge around that fact that I am almost done with the thirties for age.  It’s far from a mid-life crisis, as I am blessed with a fantastic wife, two great daughters, and all of the most important things in Life.  I seem to be in good health, so a reasonable expectation involves me having reached somewhere near the halfway point of this life.  As I ponder the math, I probably have at least as many years ahead of me working as an employee as I have done so far.  My work is good work, all in higher education as an instructional technologist and as an online teacher.

Even so, I find myself dwelling on those big key decisions and moments in life, and how that has directed me to where I am at today.  “If I knew then what I know now” type of stuff.  There really is not much I would or could change.  One or two tweaks, here or there, might make things different (and “better”?) than they are right now.  But who knows, really?

Perhaps it is more important to look around, and make sure I like the direction things are headed in?  As if I have any more control of that than all which has led up to know?  Sure, choices are made in reaction to Things Happening, or wanting to go in a different direction.  But who knows what those future things are?  I may well like just about everything the way it is now.  Expecting things to stay as I like does not seem reasonable; I’m getting older, my kids are darn near grown up, my folks are not getting any younger.  That is just the personal stuff; depending on who you believe or listen to, the Apple iPad is either “a magical and revolutionary product at an unbelievable price” or it is the next Lisa and Newton.  Technology changes show no signs of slowing down in my lifetime.  I am looking forward to seeing where humanities inventions take us during the rest of my lifetime.

Back to today; in a purely vain and shallow example, I find myself comparing hair styles; in just a couple of years, I’ve gone from darn near shaved (two-years-ago-ish), to well-trimmed (this time last year), to senior-year-of-high-school long.  Even at this age, I’m still trying to figure out who I am, what I should look like, it seems?  I am not at Purdue writing this today, as the TLT 2010 was canceled.  While I am bummed by this fact, at “my age” I have grown weary of hauling my body around to attend things.  The time spent travelling has gotten to be rather annoying as well.

Overall, Life has been Good to me so far, not too many opportunities lost or squandered.  I have experienced enough to know you cannot win them all, yet I want to do better at recognizing good opportunities when they occur.  Life needs some mountain top experiences like a year go.  But there is plenty of good to be done in the valleys.

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~ by Neal Cross on April 6, 2010.

3 Responses to “Opportunities Lost?”

  1. It’s always interesting to hear the impressions people have of one another. It is difficult to comprehend that someone thinks you are one of the cool kids. Especially when you think the reciprocal is true. The TLT Conference was a turning point for a lot of us. It was during the conference that Sarah and I started talking about the possibilities of working together. She was making huge decisions in her life and I was starting to think about my options. It is true that you and I are in very different places in our life but we struggle with a lot of the same issues. Like you, I wouldn’t change anything. Reflection is a very important exercise, just make sure it pushes you forward. Don’t give in to things that are “too hard”. Don’t isolate or lock yourself into situations because of “the way things are”. Always think about yourself. Be selfish. Be selfish for you and your family. Even with best intentions, no one cares about you more than you. Know your core values. When things start turning against those values, stand your ground. Ultimately other people will make decisions that you don’t agree with. When you lose the ability to influence those decisions it is important to step away. Neal, you are a great friend and I am grateful that I know you. I look forward to the next time we can get together. Who knows, maybe we need to throw our own conference. We can call it “Cool Kids Connect” or something. I would be happy to meet halfway or come all the way down to see you. Keep being great.

    • Cool Kids Connect would be an Awesome Conference! 🙂 I’ve suspected such discussions where happening for you and Sarah during that conference. Thank you for the reply and encouragements above. I’ll start looking at some nice halfway points. And, I may need a guest speaker or two again this summer, for the same ITL class.

  2. Really you writing very well. Thanks for good informations.

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