Monday, November 21, 2011

Background Noise

I once knew a man who stood out from the others that he worked with. The difference was marked not by positives, but rather by negatives. He was withdrawn, disconnected, soft spoken, and joyless. This manner was all that I knew of him. Yet in talking to some of the others, he was not always this way. In fact, he once was quite talkative, self-assured, outgoing, and quick with a joke or a good-natured barb. Something inside of him had broken and taken him miles and miles from what he used to be. If you observed him just for a moment as he went about his work, you likely would conclude that there was something off about him.

After working around him for several years, I finally came to learn a bit about the root cause of the darkness that had enshrouded his life. It all traced back to a single instant in time. At that point he was in his early 20s, newly married, and actively at the helm of his life, charting it in directions he had foreseen since he entered high school. He had been in the military a few years and had a long and successful career ahead of him. Already he had shown enough talent to be placed in a supervisory role in aviation mechanics, and he was about to receive another recommendation for promotion and transfer to the next level. Then in an uncharacteristically careless moment, he was sloppy with the maintenance records on one of the Cobras in for servicing. An entire training crew was lost that day. In a heartbeat the colors of his world flickered out into gray. He was discharged from the service, and as his career was ripped out of his possession, he fell headlong into apathy and depression. In short order he drove his bride away.

One day I came to work and learned that he had abruptly quit and taken a new job back with some old friends up north. I pray that he found some healing up there and a spark that could grow into flame. I've known all too well that place of apathy and depression that life can spit you into at times. One moment you are alive, and in the next, everything that you have banked on has been violently ripped out of your possesssion. Moments where notions of checking out are more than just background noise.