Monday, January 19, 2009

The Next Phase

For those of you who haven't given up on my blog (or forgot it was still in your feed list), I want to let you know that I will be back to it later this year. More punditry, more metrics, more SIM, more cool random technical stuff. I'll try anyway. I've been missing it, but I had too much going on, had to prioritize, and this blog has rusted as a result.

A lot has changed since my last blog post in November - a new position at work, a new baby daughter - and the one thing that I've come to realize is that changing is hard work, but if you want it, it's worth it. There's been an excessive amount of talk about change this past year, and on the eve of President Obama's inauguration, I've decided to share with you this story of a moment I had recently.

On November 5th, the day after Election Day 2008, I spoke at the SecureWorld Expo conference in Detroit. I've been in West Michigan for the past several years, but I used to live and work on the East side of the state. It was a gorgeous Wednesday, clear and unseasonably warm for November. And as I was driving westbound on I-96, into the dusk between me and the sunset, I looked up and found myself in familiar territory - Webberville.

You've probably never heard of Webberville, Michigan. That's OK. It's a rural town on the automotive corridor where in the 1990's, companies got huge tax breaks to buy up farmland and build factories. And in 2001, I had an office in one of those factories. That company (a "Tier One" in industry lingo because we sold directly to car makers), like many automotive suppliers, has since gone out of business. And despite working there only a year, I have some very fond and vivid memories of that job. Perhaps the most vivid, however, is driving that stretch of I-96 between Webberville and Wixom and hearing the radio newscaster describe the second plane hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11.

That day changed everything for Americans. I was living in the Midwest, working in a one-story office that had highway on one side and cows on the other, but for the weeks that followed the attacks, I was afraid. We all were. I recall making that drive to Webberville again a week later while all of the planes were still grounded and thinking to myself, "How long until we recover? Can we recover? What will it take for us to move forward?"

Not get over it. Not forget. But move forward - take the next step as a society, as a culture, as a country.

So back to 11/5/2008, and my drive home from SecureWorld, less than 24 hours after learning that Barack Obama - a young, African-American man - would be our next president. And it was there, on that piece of highway in rural Michigan that I answered my own question. Seven years and two months later, I knew America was moving forward. We were moving forward.


Stiennon said...

Wow. Great thoughts. Well written. Thanks Paul. I will make sure to check back more often. Keep blogging!

Webberville. Home to Michigan Brewing Co. and an experimental still run by Michigan State!


EdSai said...

Congrats on the new kid...