Growing Among Sharks
By: G Wayne
Copyright © 9/9/11
I packed my equipment and headed back home while considering the possibilities of what to do next. With my bank account was approaching zero, I decided procuring a steady income should be my primary goal. It was time to discover if the scheme of hiring myself as an engineer to establish credibility actually worked. I carefully updated my resume and sent it out to every electronics company I could find that was in need of an engineer. To my surprise, I started getting responses to my inquiries. Again, I had managed to find people willing to give me a chance.

I manage to be hired as a Research and Development engineer at a company designing a state-of-the-art radar system. They were impressed with my experience in bit-slice technology and wanted me to design a processor for their radar system. My plan had magically worked and I had established myself as an engineer, not just any engineer, but one involved in research and development. Designing and coding that bit-slice engine was one of the most intellectually rewarding projects I have ever worked on to date and it afforded me the credentials of an engineer.

I remember starting in the morning and becoming completely engrossed in my work. When I would break from my technical trance to go to lunch, I would discover that the whole day had slipped by and it was not noon, but late in the evening and all my coworkers had long since gone home. It was a hypnotic level of concentration more enjoyable than activities I did for fun. Bit-slice coding holds challenges not found in the development of linear software. Data flows through a pipeline, and it not only matters what happened in the past, but what could happen in the future and what is happening on parallel data paths. This becomes quite a juggling act. It would sometimes take an hour, sensitizing myself enough to realize all aspects of the data flow. But no matter how difficult it was to reach that heightened state of awareness, it always became a pleasurable experience.

All through my career I was haunted by a feeling that was always in the background. The only way to diminish the sadness it caused was to succeed, but that would wear off and I would have to re-succeed. Some projects were greater than others and leave me with a fix that would a long time. But the feeling that I am not very smart had found a home in my head and I cannot seem to evict it.

My career as a design engineer lasted for over 20 years. Prospering in this field of endeavor, I eventually progressed to be a lead design engineer. I would still be acting in this capacity if life had not slapped me up side the face with a strong dose of reality. An unforeseen tragedy in the nature of a stroke caused changes to my life that I could never have imagined. My doctors informed me that I was fortunate to survive.

Although, I will never be able to do many of the things that I enjoyed in the past, I did learn from experience at how to evaluate my strengths and cajole the world to work in my favor. I thank God that my cognitive abilities survived unlike my ability walk. I did manage to relearn how to get around on my own again, but my love of windsurfing can now only be experienced while sifting through memories of seemingly endless summer days, skipping across the swells of the San Francisco Bay like a feather in the wind: Qual piuma al vento. (Giuseppe Verdi "Rigoletto")

As the dust of recovery settled, I started to determine what strengths I had left to maintain a productive life. Although the stroke compromised my vision, causing me to experience problems converging both eyes on the same point and making reading even more difficult, I felt an aptitude for writing and decided to make that my new vocation. It had been a hobby that started with song writing and I even completed a fictional narrative about Bay Area windsurfing entitled: The Purest Form. It turned out very well for first novel, even though it took me over three years to complete. (Available in paperback or eBook at Amazon and Barnes & Noble)

This was something that I had never attempted before: to embark on a profession that required the skills I have avoided most of my adult life. It is not an easy task to take on the responsibilities of writer. Sitting down for eight hours a day, struggling to remain creative and type out fresh prose quickly becomes old and lonely. Constantly trying to answer the question "what if?" Also, dreaming up plots for characters to act out can blur the difference between fiction and reality. Writing does fulfill my need to create, and it is something I can do for the rest of my life so I keep doing it. Unfortunately, my ability to read remains a problem to be reckoned with. This drawback will probably always slow me down, although with extra diligence, I can extract needed information from the printed word and rely on other strengths to compensate for the disadvantage. While forcing myself to pursue my dreams and learn how to live life I have discovered who I really am (mostly). In the end, everything worthwhile contains parts that seem overwhelming although dealing with these opportunities can be the greatest reward of all.

There are ways to overcome learning disabilities and there are people out there that know how to help. Please remember that you are not less of a person because you have problems with comprehension. When others tell you that you can't do something, there is a good chance that they are just trying to trip you up. It's your life to live and you should do whatever you think is best to make that life as fulfilling as possible. In doing this you could learn to live happily between the lines and find a rewarding life while growing among sharks.

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The End
By: G. Wayne