And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
-T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)
January 28, 1986. I was sitting in Sophomore AP English. Word that the Challenger had exploded made it to the class room. Word was distorted. It blew up before launch. It blew up during the countdown. It blew up in flight. There were parachutes seen. There were no survivors.
It wasn't until American Civ that afternoon that we were allowed to watch the news. I still remember the images as clearly as I'm sure we'll all see them replayed over the next few days.
My Physics teacher, Mr. P, was an aerospace engineer turned teacher and a family friend. He worked on the design of the Saturn V rocket, which eventually metamorphed into the main fuel tank that the shuttles use to get into space. He was one of the runner-ups to be the Teacher in Space. He was a breath away from being on that shuttle. He'd met Christa McAuliffe. He was devastated. He was out of school for a while after.
It was Rob (Mr. P) who inspired me to want to be an aerospace engineer. I respected his dedication. I respected his passion. I respected him more than any other teacher I've ever had. He set the direction of my future.
I chose Penn State because it was one of the schools that actually had an aerospace engineering program. It brought me east. And while I didn't stay with aerospace, I stayed east.
Fast forward to 1999. I'm living in Boston. I'm working in real estate. I listen to WFNX radio. In February, I met the morning show crew as a part of a 'Dating Game' type program, and sat next to the show's intern, Jim, who was dressed up as Abe Lincoln. The producer of the morning show was an Improv comedian at Improv Boston in Cambridge. He spoke of Improv classes at Improv Boston, and that sounded cool to me, so I went to their webpage to look. From there, I found a link to the Improv Asylum's webpage. I'd never been to either theater, but the Asylum's classes were starting sooner, so that's where I signed up.
Fast Forward to February 1, 2003.
I'm now a teacher at the Asylum's training center. I've performed on their stage, and have been a part of their organization for a good while. This is the first day of new series of classes, and it's also the second to last semester I will be teaching as I've decided that my life path is taking me west. Back to California. Away from real-estate. Away from Boston.
One of my students came to me at break and told me that the Space Shuttle had exploded. My mind flashed back to my sophomore English class. The student was Jim, the intern, who's now part of the morning show. The morning show that got me into Improv.
Maybe no one else will see this the same way I do. The universe doesn't revolve around me. But someone involved, however indirectly, in getting me into Improv brought me the same information that inspired me to come east, shortly before I planned on returning west to pursue Improv.
The cosmos may or may not have an impact on our destiny, but for me, I feel it's hand very strongly.
My hands are cold, and my eyes moist. CNN is playing in the background. My heart goes out to the families of those who have been lost. May whatever deity they hold sacred embrace their loved ones, for those seven are true heroes. They are forging the path to the world's future even as I take steps to bring me closer to mine.