When I was 11, maybe 10, perhaps 12, I was told to write an essay for English class. The title?
What I Want to Be When I Grow Up
Like every 11 year old boy knows exactly what he wants to be when he grows up. Oh, sure I had some ideas: fireman, doctor, President, an actor like John Wayne or Roy Rogers. It was a so-so report.
Truth be told, I wasn't sure what I wanted. Move ahead a few years - I'm entering Freshman year of High School. A sheet of paper is passed out during Home Room and I have to fill it in and turn it back in the next day.
List three (3) occupations you are interested in.
We're back to the "What I want to be when I grow up" question. I considered my choices since I was more mature and had a little better grip on the realities of being an adult. Yeah, freshman. Adult. We can stop laughing. We like to think we're grown up. Anyway, I thought about it that night and wrote down the following: ministry, actor, artist. I was called in 'the office' about 2 days later and asked to explain my choices and would I like to change the last two? Remember, Podunk was a big metropolis when measuring our rural area in NW Ohio. My graduating class was the largest in school history - 100 students and the next four years of graduating students would be 89 or less. The fact remained, there was nobody available to discuss acting or being an artist in the area and I was the only student to request those fields. I changed my last 2 choices to Navy and office worker. So, on Career Day, I listened to a minister discuss God's calling, the Navy recruiter tell me how great sailing the Seven Seas would be and a mousey, scared-of-her-shadow secretary explain the workings of an office.
For the next 3 years - Sophomore, Junior and Senior - I continued to participate in Career Day attending the Ministry, Navy recruiter and some other obscure job possibility.
My English teacher, for the last semester, had us write an essay on:
What Great Accomplishment Do You Hope to Fulfill?
Accomplishment? I have less than 6 weeks of high school left, I've already signed up to join the Navy for a four-year stint. College? Not in my future - too expensive. The Vietnam War is in full swing and at that particular moment, my great accomplishment was to stay alive for the next four years, at least that is what I wrote on my essay. I figured my teacher would give me at least a C, maybe a B for the paper. Surprisingly, I got an A. I would say the great accomplishment of that exact moment, was that particular grade.
I graduated and soon shipped off to boot camp in Chicago. What was I going to do with my life?
On my return trip home from Chicago, I flew with a retiring Navy Chief who had made the Navy his career. I was considering a life in the Navy. He gave me a word of advice and wisdom. He said "The Navy will teach anything and everything. Just become an open vessel and accept the knowledge." At the ripe age of 18, I'm a man of the world and know everything. Yeah, right, is my mental thought. But, it did sink in finally.
Needless to say, I survived 5 years in the Navy - so, NO, I didn't make that my life's goal. I did several jobs but nothing seemed to fill that "What Do You Want To Be?" space in my life. I married, had children, and went to college. Imagine that! The GI Bill worked to my advantage. I was taking a few accounting courses and suddenly found myself working in an accounting department of a major firm. Life seemed to directing me toward a goal.
I started to learn how to program Atari programs which led to a job at a computer store and more programming which lead to me being hired by a small manufacturing firm to be the computer person. Life found me moving to Washington, DC and doing programming for a major software firm. Suddenly I'm working for the Federal government as a programmer. The software I am helping to design with 2 other people is tested in Texas. First test of the software? The Waco incident with David Koresh and the Davidians. The program worked perfect, no hiccups. Years later, I'm moving to Detroit to become the Assistant Systems Manager for the Federal court there. I retired.
So, what did I want to be when I grew up?
First, I haven't grown up. That is still an on-going process. If you don't believe me, just ask my wife and she'll let you know very quickly that I haven't grown up.
I'm a husband, father, grandfather and now, soon-to-be a great-grandfather. I'm retired but I'm an author.
What do I want to be when I grow up? A writer, an author. Happy.
What great accomplishment do I hope to fulfill? Being a great husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Isn't that strange? What I want to accomplish and what I want to be aren't even related, although being a great-grandfather, grandfather, father and husband has made me happy. Who knew? In fact, how can anyone expect an 11 year old boy to know this? When I was 11, computers were basically unheard of.
Do you know what you want to be? What accomplishments you want to fulfill?
Until next I ramble on...