Our Atlanta to Phoenix flight arrived late Friday evening, we waited a while in line waiting for a tele-rental agent, got a car, then drove 20 miles south of the airport to our hotel. We slept well then took our time in the morning because our first stop, the Pima Air Museum in Tucson, didn’t open until later in the morning.
The drive to Tucson was different than I remembered it even though I had driven the route many times in the past. My wife was not with me those times, and I’d always had one worry or another on my mind.
That was then.
I’d always wanted to go to the air museum but never had. I’d only done three touristy things on fifty trips or so trips to Tucson with two companies. Two companies were combined, I spent half of my 28-year career.
I made it a bit after noon 25+ years after my first visit to the city.
The museum has several hangers filled with historic aircraft and 60+ acres of larger aircraft outdoors. We spent a couple of hours walking around and looking at more kinds of flying machines than we’d ever seen before. Different designs, different purposes, different eras.
My inner narration became Burt Rutan for a while. He had designed at least one of the planes and possibly more. He is a dreamer; an achiever; a hero. He complimented me on noticing the progressive change in the shape of the turbine blades in one exhibit and asked what I knew about rotary engines.
He said, when I thought about heroes and felt small inside, “to me, a hero is someone who does the right thing when it is needed.”
A hero is someone who does the right thing when it is needed.
I thought about that a bit and then a bit more. I had not done much in the year before we left for vacation.
Expensive equipment of mine had been stolen, I had spent months being hacked by experts (I will not write about this) and learners alike (some had even befriended me or so I thought), I’d lost 95 percent of an engineering library I’d spent nearly a decade building though it was suggested that 10,000 dollars would be taken into consideration if I wanted to buy it back, I had received death threats and had brought weapons into my home for the first time in my life and I’d let my family down by becoming so obsessed with it all that I ignored their needs.
I did not understand the words my inner voice had become at first then I thought for a bit more and realized that I’d never entirely lost hope and I could write about it.
I had been close but each time I fell I got up again. I had decided not to complete my thesis for a second master’s degree. The topic I had chosen was cyber security and as I was hacked while I was in Washington to attend a cyber security workshop and the attack had not only taken out my computer but my consultancy website as well, I felt I would be a hypocrite if I wrote about the topic.
The week I wrote to the University to tell them I would not be returning I got a call from another school. I have referred to it a bit in previous posts and will refer to it in the future as well. I enrolled and had talked with or written to more than a dozen people at the school in the past seven months. I have considered quitting twice because the work demands more of me than anything I have ever attempted. It is not the difficulty of the assignments that is hard. It is my drive to do them the best that I can. The University I am attending teaches many things but there is a major focus on leadership, and I am learning.
Each of the aircraft we saw that day in Tucson was built by a team, maintained by a team, and a museum team was in charge of their care. I have learned a lot about people the past year. The disappointing things I already knew but had never experienced first hand. People are not always honest, people cheat at times, and people steal. All of us have done at least one of these three things, and I would venture that most of us have done all three at least once. Why was my firsthand experience such a cloud over me?
I could have avoided a lot of it if I had made different choices but …
That, too, was then.
I’d knew about sunk costs before this year as I have worked as a project manager for most of my career whether my title included those words or included the words manager, director, or leader. I’d never applied the concepts I have learned about in Decision Theory to my personal life. Until that afternoon in Tucson, surrounded by machines that had made their way to the museum on a path that involved thousands of people who believed in themselves.
We left the airport after touring a very large aircraft storage/reclamation area. Thousands of aircraft from different areas were parked on several square miles of high desert. They were several categories of storage from repairs needed to recently decommission and could be returned to service to ready for reclamation auction.
An older man was our tour guide on the bus ride through the resting grounds. We were not allowed to leave the bus because the planes were on an active air base. A4 training grounds. Warthogs. Two were circling the airfield when we had arrived earlier.
Our tour guide had worked at the base when he was in the service. He was proud of the work he had done and proud to be our guide. He had retired from the military after 30 years of service more than two decades ago. He never left his planes.
The evening was near when we left the facility and started a long drive to San Diego. We passed a solar field along the way.
Solar power. It would have been nice to have gotten better photos but one cannot photograph hope in the making or hope realized. At least I cannot. Perhaps some day I will write more about solar power. I have the kernel of a plan in that direction I might follow-up someday, but I have a lot to do before then. Most importantly, though, I have hope.
I believe in myself.
Believe in yourself too and you will do the right thing when it is needed.
I write about hope.