I vividly recall the feelings I had while driving across the United States from Salt Lake City, where I had been working at the University of Utah, to Washington, D.C. where I was going to work in the U.S. Congress as a Congressional Science Fellow.
I was in my early 30s, driving an old car with the windows down, the hot August winds blowing like a convection oven over me and my possessions. It was exhilarating. Sure, there were pangs of sorrow, leaving behind friends and colleagues. But the feelings of excitement, and a bit of nervousness of stepping into the unknown, quickly overwhelmed those pangs as I was filled with the sense that I had embarked on a grand adventure and a major life transition – a new beginning.
Little did I know how monumental a milestone this experience would prove to be. Two weeks later, on Sept. 11, 2001, as I sat in a room in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, the world changed for all of us.
Milestones: Our lives are full of them.
We celebrate many of these moments, from birthdays and marriage to graduation and first jobs. But others are painful, when a treasured relationship ends, a poor decision leads to more poor decisions, or when death touches someone close to us.
What is similar about these milestones – both good and bad – is that each requires a shift. They are points in life when circumstances are changing and disrupting the norm. And these changes require us to respond, to change. It’s a time to reassess, reevaluate and start anew.
We’re marking a milestone here at AAPG, too.
In February of this year, we restructured our entire operations at headquarters. Our new structure is based around teams handling similar job functions and emphasizing cross-training. It’s also demanded all of us – myself included – to change how we think about our jobs and how we can be most effective in running the business of AAPG.
Last month we held the 2016 Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Calgary. It was a great event. An opportunity for geoscientists involved in exploration and production to get together and learn, socialize, and perhaps make that contact or connection that will open up new opportunities.
I can assure you that, for Paul MacKay and Jen Russel-Houston, the general chair and general vice chair, and their entire organizing committee, this experience was a milestone event in their lives. We owe them a debt of gratitude for taking on the significant responsibility of organizing this convention for all of us. And we also thank our gracious hosts at the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists for their significant contributions to the success of ACE 2016.
I am particularly proud of the AAPG staff team, both on the ground in Calgary and at headquarters, for their stellar efforts in difficult circumstances to deliver this event. Thank you, guys. You’ve demonstrated the impact of teamwork.
This month is also the beginning of a new fiscal year at AAPG with a new Executive Committee (EC) lead by President Paul Britt. The EC will be working closely with us to navigate the uncertain environment in which we presently find ourselves. There will be tough decisions that need to be made, but there will also be opportunities to seize and develop for the benefit of you, our Members.
At the end of 16 months working in the U.S. Congress I had experienced up close the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, as well as domestic terror in the form of anthrax attacks on Congress and two snipers who terrorized the greater Washington, D.C. area.
But my year on the Hill was about much more than violence and terror. I had a chance to see how representative democracy works from the inside. I was a part of it. And over the course of that year, I had a chance to meet people, have new experiences and gain insights that have served me through today. And I made lifelong friends.
As I retraced my steps to the University of Utah to rejoin the Energy & Geoscience Institute, in a sense, I was going back. But I wasn’t the same person when I got back. I was actually moving forward into a new job. Opportunities opened to me because I had these new experiences, had acquired new knowledge and was applying it in new ways. It was a milestone experience that shaped my career.
It was one of the great milestones. I’ve also experienced milestones that were decidedly not great. But good or bad, they have always provided me an opportunity for a fresh start, just as they are today at the beginning of a new year for AAPG – our 100th year.
It’s time to begin anew.