I recall as a student climbing and crawling about the high school gymnasium sub-ceiling catwalks, setting spotlights for dances and like events. Among other tasks, I adjusted aim and orientation, and placed tinted filters over the lenses, all to achieve the desired floor effect. I haven’t adjusted a ceiling light filter in the nearly fifty years since. Yet I do look through other lenses, my own eyes, today filtered not by pigmented plastic frames, but by years of experience, decades of learning, and perhaps a modicum of greater wisdom. Some shades and filters I have chosen to adopt; others have been imposed by life-events and time.
I’ll begin with the mundane. As a high school student, I thought nothing of being thirty feet above the hardwood floor. I now find replacing a light bulb while standing on a footstool a bit daunting! I ran marathons (26.2 miles) at just a tad over seven minutes per mile and ten-Ks at a six-minute pace. Today, I consider walking at 15 minutes per mile fast! Thirty years and 45 pounds exact a toll, but neither constitutes a life-event. Here are some life-events that have matured my personal and professional filters:
- We now have five grandchildren. Our generational reach extends further into a future less certain than ever. What can I do to make tomorrow brighter for them?
- My mother died April 17 (see my April 20, 2017 blog). Judy and I had already lost both Dads and Judy’s Mom. There is now no generational buffer between us and our eventual demise. A sobering thought, one that prompts us even more to strive, while time allows, to make a positive difference for those who follow.
- May 3, 2012, a hit-and-run driver plowed into us with a two-ton SUV (see my May 7, 2017 blog). We have a far greater appreciation for life, recognizing that there are no guarantees for tomorrow.
- I’ve published a book (Nature Based Leadership; http://bookstore.liferichpublishing.com/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx?searchterm=Nature%20Based%20Leadership) and submitted my second, Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading, to the publisher. I had not anticipated that being a published author would alter my own lens, as well as how people view me, yet the published-author filter does modify vision.
- Finally, I spent 44 years largely self-defined by career stops: Working Circle Forester; Professor; Extension Director; Vice Chancellor; University CEO. Semi-retired since July 2016, I admit to struggling with this new identity that does not revolve around a job and a paycheck.
I apply these recently added or modified filters to Great Blue Heron, my writing and speaking, my volunteering, my role as a spouse of 45 years, and my parenting and grand-parenting. The filters permit, and even encourage, a more mature vision, interpretation, and deliberate action. I recall my maternal grandmother saying, “The older I get, the faster time goes.” I could not imagine how that could be, yet with a 66th birthday just 60 days out, I see the wisdom and veracity of her statement. Our filters of experience and perspective as we approach life and career sunset affect so much of what we see. My writing, speaking, and consulting leverage that enhanced vision — allowing me to harness the power and wisdom I have gleaned from time, experience, and Nature to the service of individuals, enterprises, and my own life and vocation.
I am intent upon leaving a durable and lasting mark on tomorrow. Great Blue Heron, LLC is my vocational vehicle for touching the future.
Feature Photo Note: Nature and Life filter our vision, modify our perspective, and draw wisdom we can harness in service to living, learning, serving, and leading.