When I came home to Arizona in 2010 after 5 years overseas, my wife and I had decided to switch roles. I was disillusioned with college and she seemed ready to pursue a degree in medicine, her newest life goal now involved becoming a medical doctor. I was going to get a blue collar job and earn money while she jumped into college. Maybe in the future, when I figured myself out, I would go back to school.
My family was determined, though, to convince me otherwise. In my spare time I was getting involved in the podcasting community online and I was having middling success in internet broadcasting. It was fun, I found a topic that I enjoyed talking about and I would spend my evenings doing research and producing a 2 hour weekly show which I published on iTunes. My father thought this was fantastic and thought that I could pursue a degree in New Media production, maybe even at ASU’s Walter Cronkite school. He convinced me to take a few credits at Glendale Community College while working, just to keep my transcript growing and moving in some direction.
But I was still winding down. I felt horrible. I was spending a lot of time online in game worlds. I was without passion. My marriage was falling apart.
When I was unpacking boxes from our last move, in a few that had sat in a closet for months ignored, I found something that would change all that for me. It was an old briefcase, maroon in color with a broken handle. The combination on the locks was 0-0-7 and it was beat up and scuffed from years of abuse I inflicted on it as a kid and years of moving from location to location as an adult. Inside this briefcase was a collection of all the paper spaceships, maps of terraformed Martian landscapes, model planetary rovers with deployable solar panels, random NASA themed LEGOs along with samples of all the unabashed dreaming and geekery I had saved for my future self in one poorly sorted mass. It made me think, when did I give up on all this stuff? What made me give up on my dreams? When does a child stop wanting to be an Astronaut and settles for a cubicle? This was why I was unhappy.
This time capsule saved through the years had served its purpose. It gave me back mine. My purpose was to study, train and step foot on the most beautiful landscape I have ever set eyes on…the surface of Mars. I made a connection to my dreams I had as a child and fused it with my adult ambition.
I walked onto campus last September with a bruised heart, but a burning conviction that what I was doing was right. I had a shine in my eyes when I walked my school halls despite the personal adversity that was assaulting me at home. I had become a single father and I lost a good deal of my friends during the divorce, but every day my support system and the number of new friends I gathered to me grew. They could see my passion, even if sometimes it was a bit overwhelming.
It is one year later. The passion is sustained, it a bit tempered by a high credit load. I passed some classes, I failed some, and some of those I came back in the spring and knocked out of the park. The important thing is that my successes are encouraging, but not essential to my drive. My failures teach me lessons but no longer discourage me from my goals.
Onward, upward, the future is unknown but exciting .