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Gone Missing

Posted by Tom Benedict on 05/06/2015

I’ve been missing for some time now. I haven’t written in months, and haven’t pursued the things I said I’d pursue in my previous posts. In some ways I’ve been in a cocoon. In other ways I’ve been a chicken running back and forth across a busy highway. Life’s just like that sometimes.

Back in October my father had some serious health issues. I wasn’t there, and my family agreed that I wouldn’t help anyone by being there. I knew they were right, but it hammered home how far away I am from my family. I love my father dearly. I can’t stand the thought of never seeing him again.

Shortly after that my cousin and I got in touch again. I found out she’d gone into professional photography, and was setting up her own studio space. We talked about photography, art, pursuing a personal vision, and all the other things connected with our mutual love of creating photographs. We both finished up by saying how fun it would be to grab our cameras and head out together. But she’s a quarter of the way around the world from me, in Texas.

While setting the summer schedule at work, two of my co-workers announced they were taking their families on trips across the American Southwest. This is one of my favorite places on the planet. When I was a kid my family went on numerous road trips across the Southwest. As an adult I went on another road trip with my father, visiting places we’d never been when I was younger. I’ve been trying to figure out how to take my own family there, but never solved the problem of how to get there without breaking the bank. My co-workers’ announcements just hammered home how much I miss it. The last time I was in the Southwest was fifteen years ago. I haven’t seen it since.

I was struggling with all these thoughts when I saw a posting for an electronic engineer at the Hobby Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in West Texas.

I first saw McDonald Observatory when I visited as an undergraduate astronomy student back in 1990. This was before HET was built. It’s also where I first met my wife. I visited several times afterward, usually with other friends. She was working for an astronomer at the time, so her visits were more work-oriented and kept her up at night, so to speak. Later, one of my housemates took over as director of the Visitor’s Center, so we had even more reason to visit. McDonald Observatory figured large in my life for many years, though I never actually worked there. But for so many reasons it’s been near and dear to my heart all this time.

So yeah, I applied for the job.

Earlier this week I got a phone call, letting me know interviews would be scheduled the following week. I talked it over with my boss this morning, and he agreed it would be a really good career move. It was a tough conversation for me, and I’m guessing it was tough for him, too. But it meant the world to me to have his blessing to pursue this.

I don’t know how much I’ll be writing in the next two months. I truly don’t know what the future holds. I just hope it’s bright.

– Tom


2 Responses to “Gone Missing”

  1. Tim Cole said

    Best of luck, Tom. I know this is presumptuous of me, but my suggestion would be to follow your heart and your gut. I didn’t, a long time ago. It hasn’t been a bad life, or anything melodramatic like that, but you always wonder.
    Whatever you chose, I have no doubt you’ll do well with it.

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