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Still Jeff

16th of May 2000

     A common characteristic of alchoholism is stuffing away emotions and fears. Unable to keep the plug in the jug, we instead kept our feelings bottled up like the rankest moonshine. Never learning, we always made the same mistakes, not fully understanding the insidious nature of the disease; it is relentless in its consistency. Old habits and addictions die hard. Even as a recovering alcoholic I find myself boiling from within, but silent. The emotions I'm feeling are scalding my soul, the inability to release them is retarding my personal growth.

     I have anxiety. I am afraid. I'm anxious and in fear of the future, and for those in my inner circle. It is most likely irrational fear steeped in the anticipation of disruptive change. My 26 year career is reaching a turning point. The company I have worked for since college was sold last summer. The final regulatory approvals are due in a matter of weeks. I've forced myself to stuff this inevitability for months, all the while churning like a witch's cauldron.

     Why am I afraid? The change will most likely mean relocation; moving to a geographical place that doesn't interest me. Nothing against the fine people who live in those communities, it isn't where I picture myself. So turn down the new company and start over. Certainly I can, but in so doing I throw away half a pension that is only five years short of maturing; one I've worked long and hard to achieve. Caught between a rock and a hard place.

     But it's more than pulling up roots, I fear I've lost my passion for the career. The challenges aren't what they used to be, the feeling of community involvement has given way to cutthroat shareholder value. It's no longer about doing my small bit to make the world a better place. Instead, it's about dollars and cents, plain and simple.

     A while back I found another outlet for my passions. Addictive personalities, like my own, have a tendency to replace one consuming virtuality with another. Finally able to abandon alcohol, I discovered the Internet a number of years ago. Whether I'm addicted is irrelevant, I live in the Net. Its community is my new passion. It inspires me and enlightens me, in fact the inspiration for this essay came from a thread in the Dreamless forums about discerning passion and keeping hope alive, and from a particular web site that demonstrates it to the utmost.

     Yet again, I am troubled. I've made my modest appearance on the Web by teaching and helping, a nice way to return the favor to those unselfish givers who helped me learn to live life on life's terms without alcohol. But there are only so many nuts and bolts to offer, so my focus has evolved recently. I want to pour myself into giving back to this Net community that has nurtured my recovery. My new fears?

     I am neither an artist nor a designer; I have no formal training or talent. That should be immediately obvious. I am not a writer; again no formal training. Sure, I have written many technical white papers during my career, but they didn't require the creative spirit. So my passion may not be demonstrable. It is an abstract passion, a love for the good will and energy exuded by the independent content producers in this enriching medium.

     My training is in information technology. I am good at it. I've mastered a dozen operating systems and programming languages during my career. I've passed some of that on to the youngsters at work, and to the beginners on the Web. I believe I have succeeded. Like the apprehension of corporate change, I leap into this new commitment to Net community with trepidation, but a passion nonetheless. My only hope is that one of these days you will be able to tell.

     God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

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