Today I got to see the footprint my father left on this planet. Or lack of a footprint. For nearly a decade now, I’ve known that my father played a role in making the world a better place. As the hurricanes intensify, the droughts last longer, and countless people are displaced, my father is a foot soldier in the fight against climate change. For the last decade, off and on, he has worked for a wind turbine plant that has produced more than 6,000 units. Each one of those units that goes out of the doors makes the world a safer place…and he is a huge part of that.
Today my father gave me a tour of the manufacturing plant that he helped design (with legos, no less) and helped run for the last decade. For three hours, I got to see the world that my father immersed himself in for the sake of supporting his family and being a part of something bigger and better than himself. As we slowly made our way through the plant, the awe of the size of the operation seeped into me. As that awe dissipated, it was replaced with pride. My father was a critical part of getting this operation off the ground, and has helped keep it running smoothly for years.
Today I learned a lot from my father. I always struggled with the idea of full time work. I never wanted to be a gear in the intricate economic world. Work. Paycheck. Repeat. But, over the last four years, I’ve been uncovering something that my father had already figured out. It’s admirable to be just a small part of the big picture–so long as your part pushes humanity in the right direction. My father made sure of that. And now I know why I do the work I do.
Tomorrow a torch is being passed to me. My father is counting down the days until he no longer works. My mother has been waiting two years for him. Together, they will walk into retirement knowing that they did good. My father can point at the wind farms on their road trips and know that he was a part of it. My mother can say she played an active and positive role in the lives and education of literally thousands of kids in this town of ours. This retirement is hard fought and well deserved, for both of them.
Tomorrow I buy the house that I grew up in. My parents, now able to say that they raised their two wonderful children into adulthood, will be retiring into the Rocky Mountains. My wife and I now inherit the reality that it is our turn. It is our turn to figure out what kind of impact we want to have on the world through our daily interactions, family, and work. It is our turn to raise a family in the beautiful home we are about to call our own.
Tomorrow is the start of something I cannot comprehend. It feels like so little will actually change. But maybe that is because I have been preparing for this moment for so long. Regardless, I know now that I am ready. My parents raised me in their image–making clear that our impact on the world is important–both through our work and our family. And I have no intention of letting that lesson end with me.