From the science-fiction series, The VOX of SU’s SHELL
“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards a ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.: — Leonardo da Vinci.
Je was ambitious and worked hard to forget her family’s troubles.
As a scientist, Je had often made her life more complicated. In discovery, Scientists break down the fundamental components of naturally occurring phenomena, then put them back together to restore function. The understanding of ‘working order’ allows scientist to explain a phenomenon logically. Problem-solving by deconstructing and reconstructing dynamic relationships can give an ideology structure but can add layers of complexity to otherwise simple ideas.
The realization of an innovative novelty comes through in its utility and benefit to society. An innovation is only significant if it has an impact on life.
After studying science for more than a decade and earning a Doctorates, Je still didn’t quite grasp life. While her education had allowed her to think and solve complex problems critically, it limited her exposure to real life experience.
In the end, it wasn’t Je’s education that would come to help her understand life, nor was it following the path she thought of as being right; it was questioning her faith in life that gave her understanding and meaning.
Ironically Je had a more significant sense of self and understanding of life as a child than she did as an adult. Like most humans, she spent her first couple decades squandering her childhood away in a hurry to become an adult and spent the rest of her life pondering why she was in such a hurry to grow up; especially when most grownups don’t appear particularly happy.
At an early age, Je questioned everything. Je looked for meaning in everything she experienced. She wanted to know how everything with a function, functioned, and why it functioned the way it did.
Je was born with a scientific brain. She had a tough time grasping faith because it required faith. Spirituality is easy to understand once you have it, and hard to explain to those who don’t.
Life is a test of faith, so it is best to keep it simple because it is hard enough to keep faith in a world that can seem overwhelmingly faithless.
As a child, Je envisioned her adult self as an entirely different entity. Humans do not go through a drastic metamorphic phase like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly when reaching adulthood. It is much more subtle.
Je joined the Navy at 18 at the turn of the 21st century during the “Global War on Terrorism.” However, being a war veteran didn’t make her feel like an adult any more than being in the Navy made her feel like a sailor; but that was because she never actually saw the war and was stationed on land.
Je had served at a Telecommunications as a Radioman turned Information System Technician when Y2K was not just a year-to-date problem, but a millennium bug.
Before the second millennium, most computer programs were designed using two-digit years instead of four to conserve memory space. Thus, a computer could potentially translate “00” as “1900” rather than “2000,” as time moved into the 21st century.
The feared outcome of Y2K was that when the clock struck midnight on the eve of the New Year, that computers would fail to operate. Because the year 2000 was a leap year, it was also a concern that computers would fail on 9/9/99, because programmers previously used a series of 9s to indicate the end of a program.
Panic spread worldwide as if the Y2K bug was a pandemic that would wipe out global nations; not just as a year-to-date translation issue.
What was the worst thing that could happen? Humans would experience a Ground Hog moment: with each epoch revolution of a computer repeating, resetting back to 1601 as it reached 2000; the matrix turning into a time-traveling DeLorean, bringing society back to a time when news traveled at a pace slower than snail mail.
Ironically something did happen as the clock struck midnight at the turn of the 21st century, at the computer and telecommunications station where Je spent her first and only tour. However, the event had more to do with what sailors did when they got bored on watch, rather than a computer malfunction.
The sailors had lost a baseball made from tape in a transmitter bay while playing tape-ball; which is like baseball only with a tape ball and a wooden cane. The wooden cane came from a safety board in case of an emergency in case they had to pry off personnel if they got electrocuted by a transmitter. As midnight neared, communications increased, a low-frequency tower harboring the lost tape-ball overheated and caught fire. Of course, the motherboard meltdown had little to do with Y2K.
Instead of playing tape-ball, Je liked staying in the command room to listen to communications coming through from the UFO (Ultra High-Frequency Follow On) and communicate with the submarines through the command terminal. She also took college courses remotely, so she studied whenever she could.
Je had to leave the station after getting chronic radiation syndrome. The facilities personnel were supposed to work in shifts limiting exposure to radiation. However, because Je was a supervisor she had to stay longer durations during times of crisis, such as Y2K and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
So that is how Je became the sailor that never sailed and the war veteran that never warred.
With every significant event, Je expected a metamorphosis into adulthood, but it never came. She was no more an adult as a veteran than she was before she entered the military.
Je was the same person with every milestone and achievement; just with more initials behind her name and more responsibilities.
So, what was it that made Je find herself in adulthood? Failure. There is nothing like experiencing failure after a long life of feeling like you’re doing everything right to put you flat on your butt praying to God, “Why God? Why? Why forsake me now that I have built such high expectations for myself?”
As Je would say, “You have to let go of ego to find adulthood because having to find yourself in adulthood usually happens when you get too big for your britches.”