This young man is my father.
The photo was taken in the early days of his career as an electrical engineer.
In many ways, he is the stereotypical engineer. He’s analytical. He’s a logical problem solver. He pays attention to detail. He would be considered a left-brain thinker. Creative types – your artists, musicians, actors, dancers – are generally considered right-brian thinkers. If you think with the left side of your brain, you’d make a good engineer. If you think with the right side, you might be a good writer. And for much of what I remember about my father, this would seem to hold true.
When I was growing up, I don’t remember him doing anything very creative. He was very much an engineer, and was a great (if sometimes intimidating) teacher of math and science to me and my sisters.
Most of his career he worked for Union Carbide and when they began to build new production facilities in Texas, he was transferred to Houston. My family moved to Texas twice, and when he was sent to Houston for a third time, he opted to go it alone and not put the family through another move. So what does an engineer living by himself do in his spare time?
Golf? Maybe jigsaw puzzles? No. He took up painting. When he returned home we were astounded by what he had done. Among other things, he painted this scene of the old Morgan homestead near Winfield (WV), across from what is now the John Amos power plant.
As far as I know, he had never painted anything before. There were other paintings, including a very lifelike portrait of Pittsburgh Steeler great, Mean Joe Green.
But when he came back home, he was done with painting.
In the 4o-some years since, he’s completed home improvement projects and done some woodworking, but not much that would label him as a creative type.
Then last year, my sister suggested to our then 86-year-old father that he should do pencil sketches of his great-grandchildren. He agreed. Here’s one of the twins, Bear.
For most of his life, my father has played the role of engineer. He is still very practical and analytical, and his fondness for logic would make Mr. Spock proud. And then he’ll surprise us with those sparks of creativity that seem to come forth every forty years or so.
Lessons in all of this?
Don’t sell yourself short. You may not even realize the potential within. Do your thing.
Too old? Nope. That just doesn’t cut it. Do your thing.
It will make your life better.