Last night I went for a stroll to clear my mind a little bit. I love to walk around campus in the evenings, only in this case I forgot that it’s a hot sticky mess outside. In any case, I saw a huge thunderhead in the distance, full of lightning, and I got excited. Monsoon season is easily one of my favorite times of the year. I’m usually a pretty deep sleeper and never wake up to storms in the night. Last night, however, I woke up to a huge clap of thunder around 3am, and snoozed to the sounds of a stormy night outside. Love it. And the stormy night made for a stunning sunrise this morning.
There’s a certain Starbucks that I end up having a lot of meetings at. I generally use each time as an excuse to get there early and get stuff done. Many slices of life have happened in and around this little coffee shop, in between physics problems or journal pages. One time an officer walked in with a gun longer than my upper body and casually leaned on the counter to see if the barista knew anything about a bank robbery across the street. Today, I heard a loud shout – a serious shout – and looked out the window to see that a man outside had jumped up from his casual coffee and had something rather serious to say to a truck out there. Turns out the driver had backed into another car and tried to drive away, but the guy chased him down while his buddy came in to find the owner of the other car.
It struck me, that incident. While part of me felt a little bad for the very old probably frightened driver of the truck, a greater part of me really appreciated the integrity of the two guys that had stopped him. They were active, not passive. They took initiative in that situation, and the woman who owned the car was very appreciative. I think I really appreciate it when men are ready and willing to be protectors – even of things that are not their own. I think it suits them well.
In a different sense, there’s a lot I could learn about taking initiative. Generally speaking, I am fairly gentle unless a boundary that I deeply value is crossed (in which case I become passionate in my defense of it). As I have gotten a little older and come more into my own, I don’t want to say that I have become less gentle, because that’s not necessarily true. But I have become less wishy washy, and probably less of a feeler. Quite honestly, I’m compassionate, but not very sympathetic. The older I get, the more of a thinker I become, the more I think through things rather than feel through them. I like the exchange, but admit that initiative is still something I am learning to take.
In my last blog, I wrote about my new job. So far I absolutely LOVE it. I’m going to be put on a project working with HPV and cervical cancer diagnostics. I find the topic – and the implicit implications regarding our culture – fascinating. The more I learn about the problem, the more passionate I am about doing my part to help solve it. And of course I love the scientific detail involved. But one thing about my new job is that it has left a lot of room for me to take initiative. I don’t think my research mentor was really prepared to have an intern assigned to them, and has had a lot to do in the hours that I’ve been around. Quite honestly, he got me set up with a key card and the very basic premise of the project on Monday, and I haven’t seen him since. He’s supposed to be training me. I’ve been at a brand new job with no training, no real direction, and lots of hours – and I’m glad to say I haven’t wasted any of that time. I set up my own workspace, made the calls to IT for various needs, took care of online training, I’ve learned my way around the building, made new friends, and gotten a heck of a lot of background in HPV and its molecular mechanisms. I feel as comfortable as if I’d been there forever. And obviously, I’m going to need my mentor to show up soon (I can’t teach myself the job), but man I like learning initiative. I think several years ago I would have felt lost.
And that’s not in the least to say that I don’t have more to learn. Initiative at work is easy, in a sense. It’s cut and dry: what needs to be done. Do it. Boom. It’s a much grayer and admittedly more intimidating reality with people. I am not a pursuer by nature. I don’t pursue friendships with people the way I would like to. I’m actually rather spoiled to be part of a community in which there are always people to see, always houses to visit, always events to be part of. I feel like I could easily spend all of my time maintaining the relationships I have. But I don’t think I should be let off the hook that easily either. :) In short, I like the track I’m on, but it’s far from complete.
Pray for me this week – I’m quite a bit distracted. I think I’ve taken nearly every opportunity to zone out, to not be present. I’ve found it hard to engage in the moment, especially in my classes as they tarry to a close. Pray for my heart to be ever more fixed in Jesus.