|Geordi LaForge image from Wikipedia|
But that character, Geordi LaForge (played by LeVar Burton) was one of the most influential characters in my young life. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation from when I was in sixth or seventh grade until it went off the air not too many years later. They had some great characters - it truly became an ensemble show, no matter what the original intent was.
Geordi LaForge was chief engineer of the flagship of the United Federation of Planets was my favorite character. He made me want to be an engineer, a goal that guided and changed my life. He was funny kind, reliable and a damn genius that saved the crew of Enterprise more times than I can remember. Together with his best friend, the android named Data, they solved a good number of the problems encountered as they explored new reaches of space.
Geordi LaForge saved people with math and science. He changed civilizations and uncovered history. I knew that most engineering jobs weren't likely to be on a futuristic naval space platform of any sort, but all those really great qualities about Geordi, I wanted to be that too. Even in middle school, I knew I was good in math and science but I could try harder, be more like LaForge. I won a lot of awards in school, and found a love for physics as I studied more and more science and math to prepare for my intended major in college. I went to a prominent engineering college.
But I wasn't a very good engineer, in the end, and my heart wasn't in the study of it. That was fine with me, because when I chose to do something else, I knew it I had given it my all. It just wasn't for me. Turns out that changing your mind isn't that uncommon after all, and I had a lot of good company as I tried (for years) to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I find myself thinking about the steps it took to get here these days because I wonder a lot if I'm making the right choices. There's no Geordi for me to look up to this time, and I sometimes founder. It would be easier/safer/more secure if I went back and did something else with my life instead of creating art. My car is sitting outside my house dead right now because I just can't get it fixed. I need new glasses. There's a whole list of things that I would love to get for my house that aren't at all frivolous, but I can't right now.
And you know what, I bet Geordi would say that's fine. He loved his job, even with all its complications and the people the he lost, and the problems that never got solved. His job could topple over his life, take up way too much time and energy, and put him in danger more than a few times. But he loved it.
I love my creative career. I like learning new skills or working on the old ones. I get to challenge myself on a daily basis, and on the days when I am feeling too sick to work, I don't have to make myself like I did working in retail or administration. My stores are always there. You can stop by here and say hi to me and I'll get back to you when I'm feeling better. I don't have to sit at a desk and listen to someone else talking loud on the phone or get sick from the smell of perfume anymore. My arms don't have bites from paper fleas and when I wake up in the morning, I don't get sick as I prepare for the day.
Sometimes I don't have all the things I need, but then again, neither did Geordi.