I've never been much on rules. I finished High School at the very top of the 3rd quartile. I always looked at my time in high school as more or less a tedium to be endured. I floated around a bit after HS wondering what I'd do with my life. I took a couple of classes at a local community college but those teachers were not much more inspiring that my high school teachers.
The second year after graduation a friend convinced me to join him at a 'live in' junior college. I enjoyed my history class, the teacher was crazy. He brought history to life, encouraged me to get into the minds of the people that lived it. But the rest was just more tedium, endured to get a grade that proved I could sit for 3 hrs a week and regurgitate some facts...
Another friend was headed to Texas A&M to study Aero-Space engineering, I loved Star Trek growing up and that sounded about as close as I'd ever get to a warp drive. So I joined him.
I loved the classes, they challenged me to stretch, learn and think deeply about very technical topics. And, it seemed like life building the stuff that got astronauts into space and kept them alive would be pretty cool. And maybe, just maybe I'd have a shot at becoming one of those fortunate few that got into space.
My junior year I joined a group of 3 other students working on keeping planes from going into flutter. Flutter is very bad for planes, it's like the opera singer hitting just the right note, but instead of a wine glass its a dad/son/mother/daughter and a $30M plane being destroyed. The professor was brilliant, the topic deep and difficult and intensely mathematical.
Naturally, we used Mathematica to explore the problem.
To use Mathematica we had to have a beefy computer and our department had just acquired a beautiful new NeXT cube. I instantly fell in love with this computer. Everything about it was new and exciting. After working non-stop on the flutter problem for a couple of months I decided I wanted to go deeper and figure out how to build my own apps.
As the new semester rolled around I had a new infusion of student loan money, that, along with the limit of 2 credit cards gave me the buying power to get my very own NeXT slab.
I had found my calling, that crazy thing that my heart, my intuition knew about. I wanted to build stuff, crazy stuff, beautiful stuff. AeroSpace Engineering and the potential of becoming an astronaut were now secondary.
Thanks Steve for picking up the pieces of what must have felt like a monumental failure and doing something great with it. I owe my entire professional life to you having the courage to keep on keeping on.
I will cary on that legacy by being the absolute best me that I can be. And I will always remember:
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Thank you for staying foolish and staying hungry.