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December 27, 1994
End of year greetings to you and yours! It’s time for me to sit down for a few minutes and get back in touch with a few of you with whom I haven’t corresponded in a while.
1994 was a year in which I greatly expanded my world in terms of friends and acquaintances. At this time last year, I hadn’t met many of the people who would play siginificant roles in this year’s production of “As Steve’s World Turns.” That’s a bit of a humbling thought, but it’s also encouraging in thinking about what might be ahead in 1995.
One thing that for sure won’t be looming ahead will be the specter of the “Big 4-0.” Been there, did that, last March. Actually, I adopted the philosophy of a former boss — since I couldn’t fix it, I decided to feature it. So I threw a big party, invited a bunch of people and had a great time at my expense.
One of the early big deals of ’94 was spontaneously, impetuously, and totally without malice aforethought buying season tickets for the Texas Rangers baseball season. Last February I got caught up in the excitement of their new ballpark and plunked down the plastic to buy two seats, plus parking. I had no trouble selling the games I didn’t want to attend, and had a blast going to about a third of the games they actually did play before the strike. I got a refund for the games cancelled, so it worked out fine. I’m playing hard ball, so to speak, on renewing for next season, however — no strike settlement, no season tickets.
During March and April I was consumed at work with proposing and negotiating the first production contract with the Army for our new anti-tank weapon system called JAVELIN. TI and Martin Marietta (Orlando, FL) put together a Joint Venture in 1988 to develop the system, and it’s been my livelihood since 1989. Making a contribution to the five-member negotiation team which settled a $204M contract was, for me, a rewarding culmination to a lot of hard and often very frustrating work. I spent much of the year on travel, primarily to Orlando and Huntsville, Alabama. The outlook for next year is different responsibilities within the same program, while I continue to search for what I really want to do when I grow up.
Stacy (now 11) and I flew to Scottsdale, AZ in June to visit my brother Freddy and his wife Kay. It was Stacy’s first plane trip, so it was a big deal for her and she loved it. It was also the first time the two of us had been away by ourselves, which was also something special. Stacy was impressed by the Arizona “but it’s a dry” heat, the outdoor misters everywhere, any swimming pool we jumped in, and not quite so impressed with a stroll through the zoo.
Besides the Rangers, other leisure activities included getting involved in a mixed doubles tennis league (in this case, “getting involved” denotes playing tennis), going to several of the Dallas Summer Musicals, attending concerts by Billy Joel, Steely Dan and Bobby Caldwell, seeing some movies and, in general, getting “out there.”
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I attended a TI management development course in June which turned out to be surprisingly beneficial for me personally. Most of the three days was spent in a management simulation exercise, but the great thing for me was getting the results of several computerized surveys. One was a Meyers-Briggs personality thing — I’m an ENTJ, if that means anything to you. Another was a critical thinking skills test. And another was the California Psychological Inventory, which reflected things like to what extent I tend to be tolerant, outgoing, competitive, responsible, conforming, etc. I had always thought I had a pretty good handle on who I was, but this inventory thing was great because now I have a computer printout which confirms it! :)
The most significant aspect of 1994 for me was my attempt to do something which seemingly is quite simple — to make clear and accurate distinctions in my awareness of things. What I mean is, I’ve been trying to recognize the differences between: 1) what I actually “experience” on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis; 2) what I tell myself about what I experience; 3) how I respond to what I experience; and 4) what I make these experiences “mean”. You could say I’m trying to be more aware of my awareness. If I’m aware that I’m aware, it seems as though the responsibility for my responses and reactions to what I experience rests squarely on my shoulders, as opposed to someone elses. I learned this as a kid (“sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me”), but somewhere along the way I “learned” to not apply it.
I’m re-learning that to say “He was mean to me” or “She hurt my feelings” are not appropriate statements. The “meanness” results from my interpretation of a word or an action, not from the action itself. The feelings I label as “hurt” are my feelings, resulting from my response to another’s actions, and are not inevitable outcomes determined by someone else. The “meanness” and “hurt” aren’t caused by someone else — they come from me. Simple, obvious stuff, but a challenge nevertheless to apply. Complicating matters, everything (including people and relationships) is continually changing, so I can’t rely on the opinions or judgments I make to be valid forever — I’m faced with having to be continually open to accepting new facts and experiences which may very well cause a change to previously held assumptions. So much to keep up with, all for the sake of living a sane life.
Toward that end, in late July, I attended the 51st Annual Summer Seminar-Workshop in General Semantics at Hofstra University in New York. It was a great eight days — I learned a lot about this awareness stuff, more about me, had a terrific time and met a bunch of new friends. I wrote a rather lengthy account of my experiences at the seminar for a quarterly general semantics journal, which is due to be published next spring.
As this particular page of the calendar is about to be turned, I’m grateful for all the personal relationships and experiences I’ve enjoyed this year. I look forward to the next page, because I have every reason to expect that something different, exciting, meaningful and probably cool awaits. As the old guy Heraclitus said, “You can’t step into the same river twice.”
With best regards and wishes for firm steps in 1995,