“The Quanta of Gratefulness”
The word quantum has a nice sound. It escaped from quantum mechanics to become a kind of pet in English. It affectionately attaches itself to unfamiliar nouns– quantum leap, quantum advance– without too much awkwardness. It associates pleasingly with the mysteries of physics. But what does quantum mean?
Consider gratitude–something we consider very different from physics.
I used to believe that there was only one kind of satisfying gratitude, and that it came in well-defined packages–“The quanta of gratefulness.” I believed that for me, it could only come from some innovative job that overpaid me to do game-changing things. I believed that in order to be complacent with my existence on Earth, I would need to do huge things at my job.
So far, my experience interning in Seattle has changed how I view the concept of “meaningful work.”
My job is difficult. It starts with a half mile walk, followed by a 30 minute ride on the 72 bus and finally another 30 minute ride on the 124 bus. I’m tired by the time i arrive, and exhausted by the time i leave. But, my job doesn’t follow my “quanta of gratefulness” rules. I work with great people who truly care about advancing engineering and science in future generations, and sharing the pleasures of aerospace and aeronautics. To them, success isn’t judged by tangible product, but rather how they are able to influence people in the Washington area to invest interest and resources into space travel.
While I cannot walk away from my desk at the end of the day with anything tangible, my role as an intern is extremely dynamic. It’s almost impossible to neatly categorize my work with the program. Rather than having specific responsibilities, I take on whatever task is relevant and necessary at a given moment– ranging from running tech to answering questions on rocket propulsion, from taking pictures to running quiz bowls. There is never a dull moment
Despite initial doubt on my ability to impact my community partner, I am incredibly grateful for my experience with the aerospace program. I have learned more and more each day about speaking up, conveying my ideas, and efficiently working toward the needs and goals of my organizations. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to experience the great city of Seattle. From my desk, I am able to watch planes land and take-off. I have been able to get to know the other great students who are all here and interested in similar things as well. I have enjoyed great meals with great company and for all of this, I am grateful.
I have come to think that the same level of gratitude, can come in many different forms. “Thank you” (because you held the door open). “Thank you” (because you’ve just given me a buttered bagel) “Thank you” (because I needed you and you changed your plans to help me)….. All are different, and all come together to create what is “meaningful.”