The Part Before Part II – Detours Through the Occasional Wormhole

Sorry for the Delay . . .

I’m aware that too much autobiographical content can get tedious. I’d hoped I could skip straight to Part II of this “From Apollo to Star Wars” sequence, but that now feels incomplete as a means of laying the groundwork for the more “meaty” content of this blog, which I promise I’ll get to eventually. Meanwhile, I’m seeing that it was not easy being an intelligent girl when I was growing up. I was one for whom the course of life to what I want to do, has never been a straight line from Point A to Point B.

There has been much attention given recently to empowering young people, and especially girls and women, to go into science and tech – from the new emphasis on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to Girls Who Code, and much more. Perhaps if these sorts of programs had existed when I was growing up, they might have been helpful to me. It’s impossible to know in retrospect, of course, and like the “time streams” of Doctor Who, one wonders at all the possible universes that could exist, even if only metaphorically, with each choice at each fork in the road, and with other influences playing into each decision.

The woman I am now, with a stronger than ever curiosity about the universe and the planet we inhabit, fought external and internal battles to achieve greater authenticity, and at one time, to figure out what she wanted to do when she grew up. That never really did get settled – neither the growing up nor the career aspect. When I observe my fellow human beings, I see a certain number who have settled into a vocational path rather smoothly and early on, and advanced on it in a pattern of steady, mostly upward progress. My story is a tad more complicated.

I’m an explorer, at least within my mind. I’ve strayed off the type of straight course described above, whether through my fault or circumstances or a combination of both. My path has been a meandering one, and I’ve gone through various periods of jettisoning interests and taking up new ones. I also like to juggle several of them at once, to the point where I’ve wrestled with the fear that I’m a dillettante. I have ADHD, and this modus operandi is typical of my sort. There’s a new buzzword making the rounds, “multipotentiate.” I like that. It has a much better ring than dillettante.

I’m constantly aware of the need to find ways to deal with my busy mind, stay on track with life’s practical aspects, and do all of these within the context of my Catholic Faith. At the end of the day, even if things get a bit crazy, I’m grateful that God has given me a curious mind. It’s a blessing, if I can discern how to prioritize my unique gifts and interests, use my time wisely, and help others along the way.

Just as we humans inhabit God’s physical Creation, we move through its spiritual dimensions as well. In our life on Earth, we experience growth and change. Sometimes it’s difficult to envision the world of eternity, which will be quite different. And yet, we are created in His image, and Creation around us declares His glory, we are told. It’s up to us to ask God to deepen our vision of the implications of that for each of us. Living in this world requires a spiritual skill set, and preparing for the next requires trust and faith in what “eye has not seen, nor ear heard.”

Almost a Chemist

Science classes at my junior high consisted of physics in 7th grade, chemistry in 8th, and mini-units on various topics in 9th. The first two years went well; I even asked for a chemistry set and a microscope for Christmas in 8th grade and was considering a career as a chemist. In 9th grade, though, I went over to the dark side for awhile, allowing a gal pal to sway me into blowing off the class, convincing myself I hated science, and being a thorn in the poor teacher’s side. The lengths a nerdy insecure teenager will go to, to be perceived as cool!

My little foray into naughtiness was partly fueled by frustration with rejection and bullying in school and some family conflicts. Still, I felt remorse for my rebellion, went to Confession, asked for my parents’ forgiveness and the teacher’s.

There were deep consequences, though, to my identity and ambition. I was adrift, like matter blown off from a dying star. At the time school counselors were prodding us to make career choices so we could plot our high school coursework; so out of confusion and inertia, I allowed my mom to steer me into the secretarial track.

The other subject besides science I’d liked was art, but my family couldn’t see art as a “practical” way for their daughter to make her living. The artistic passion did keep my creativity going, though, and once given free rein, it has played a large role in my life.

As with chemistry, sometimes what is needed to get things going is a catalyst. That catalyst was already in the works, as a young filmmaker named George Lucas was working on the very early elements of it about the same time as I was attending my junior high science classes and wondering about my future.