From Joe Bird

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Do your thing.

Eugene Bird at work

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 never 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.

eugene painting for web

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.

bear for web

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.

 

 

 

 

12 thoughts on “Do your thing.”

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  1. That’s awesome!!

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  2. This is just great. The picture of your dad carries me back to that time that was marked by decent and able men who took care of their families and built a better world. Your dad and mine. (and how many other Carbiders whose kids we went to school with) They were handsome and brave and hard working. I see sort of the same thing in my dad as you do in yours. Most of the time he’s strictly business – working at the office, building houses, fixing the car and the drain and the door and the outside lights and anything else that his family needed. But then. But then. Every now and then he was called on to put together a Sunday School lesson and his work there was poetic. And on good days he can look up and quote the entirety of that Shakespeare sonnet on love. We were fortunate, Joe. We are fortunate.

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  3. BTW When we lived in Houston, my dad worked for your dad. My dad always has something good to say about what a good boss he was. Every now and then I meet someone who, later on, worked for my dad and they have the same kind of affection (they would not call it that) about him.

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  4. I didn’t know he did the Morgan house in Texas.
    Another good one Joe.

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  5. Love this. Your dad was slightly intimidating to me in high school, but he was married to your mom so I figured he was ok. My chemical engineer dad ‘S talent was music, but he didn’t use it until he & Mom transferred to Texas City when i was at WVU.

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  6. Great tribute and important life lesson!!

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