Uncle Bill's Helicopter, redux
I get choked up about how much good blogging has done me. I think that the more people that put part of themselves in Cyberspace, the happier all of us will be.
My case is an extreme one, I'll admit. Everything I wrote between 1984 and 1988 was lost in a disk crash. 5 years of journal, several dozen stories, some unique software and two books in progress were stolen with my computer and backup tapes - Christmas day, 1993.
After that, I stopped
writing. The trauma of losing everything - absolutely everything - scarred me deeply. I wrote pieces here and there, and tons of email, and I worked really hard on everything but writing. I stopped journaling. I have been executing - not thinking - on a program I laid down for myself to run 10 years ago. That program's got kind of crufty and old.
Some days I think I spent these years building the internet - and not using it - because my limbic system wanted me to have a really good backup system
before it would let me invest time in writing again. I'm happy about blogging - because somebody else makes the backups. Memories of a brighter day are always clearer with my blog nearby.
Sometimes I forget what I wrote and need to be reminded. In Uncle Bill's Helicopter Version 2
, published this month in the Kudzu Monthly
, I'd spoken about the problems I had when I wrote first version
of the speech:
Up until recently I'd felt that everything I had put so much work into was being misused. That the people that I was trying to connect were trying to disconnect everyone else. I was schlumping around, carrying this guilt, this pain around, I had two major problems in my life that I couldn't solve... and it seemed like time was running out... And then, something happened to change all that for the better.
I blogged the problem
on the internet... and we found josh
! And - I got what I needed to get up, pull myself out of my personal crater, and keep on breathing. All the people out there willing to help - restored my faith in my profession and in other people.
I spoke about some of the lessons I'd learned about how to get up in the morning, when you're stuck under a 14,000 pound pillow:
If you're lucky, right next to you in bed is someone you love. Turn over and give him or her a hug. You'll feel better. Hugs are far more poweful than the internet itself. In fact, stand up, right now, tell 'im that everything's going to be all right, turn to your neighbor and give them a hug. Doesn't that feel good?
There's a device just within reach, from under that 14,000-pound pillow. It's called a telephone. At the other end of it are all the friends, and family, and loved ones you have in the world.
And out on the internet, there's more friends and support groups than you can ever imagine. Than I ever imagined, and I helped build the darn thing...
I've realized that the internet really was the force for good and bringing people together that I'd always wanted it to be. I know that, as engineers, we work on things that don't immediately reward us, we generally work on things that don't love us back. That sometimes the technologies we've worked on are misused and underappreciated. But sometimes, they come back to us in totally unexpected ways, and make all the heartache and hard work worth it. I know that we can come back from making terrible mistakes.
Now - for months that bird hasn't flown for me, I still have a third and fourth part of Josh's story left to write. But until I read the speech just now - I'd forgotten that we all can come back from making terrible mistakes
I know that the story
of Uncle Bill's Helicopter has flown for others, piloted by their own heroes with angels in the rescue chair.
Today, I can hear dozens of helicopters, circling around my personal crater, and thousands more now fly on rescue missions throughout the world - piloted by you, the Reader, and you, the Writer.
I know that we gotta keep on trying, and we gotta keep on flying.