The Miracle Pen

Character? Female Chris, Christina Conference? Glass ceiling. Company sent her, over bitter colleague “Youre going” Conference Google space pen The Miracle Pen Chris was not superstitious. She did have her rituals and routines. She had a lucky copper shamrock that she wore loosely around neck. She had her lucky pen. A Fisher Space Pen. Developed by NASA, it could write upside down and under water. She didn’t mention or flaunt her talismans at work. She had worked her way up to a supervisory role, the first woman to rank as an executive in her male-dominated company and industry. Aerospace research and development. Being a female meant she had to carefully consider each decision, each word in each email, and each meeting agenda. And each outfit, hairstyle, and pair of shoes. No man in her company had to be so concerned about such mundane thoughts. And certainly not Pat. He was at same lateral level as Chris, but it took him longer to achieve that, even with no glass ceiling or cultural expectations in his way. He held some resentment for Chris. Why her? What has she got? Sex appeal, better legs? Conference not too special but time vp to share her poise and intellect When it was announced someone from Chris and Pat’s team would be joining the Vice President at the annual Aerospace Procurement Conference, each hoped it would be them that was selected. Pat was a good buddy with William, the VP. They belonged to the same country club, their kids went to the same school, and their wives went shopping together. He was a shoo-in. Later that week, Chris was called to the office of the Vice President. There were two other senior staff people there. They stopped talking, paused, and welcomed Chris. They all sat down at the small conference table in the office suite. The table was large enough that the three men left some room on either side of Chris, farthest away from the rather large executive desk. Chris felt a bit overwhelmed, but this was nothing new to her. At her second executive staff meeting, the boys cracked a few jokes about cleaning up some of their jokes and stories. Chris chuckled with them. “Guys, I was in the service. You’ve got nothing on the stories from those guys.” She settled into her seat with a smile. Third on the agenda was the Conference. The Vice President provided some background on what to expect, what to prepare, and what they hoped to gain from the seminars, meetings and vender expo. Chris was a little confused. She glanced around the room to confirm that Pat was not present. She began to realize it was she going to the conference, not Pat. It felt good. Spoke later about Pat to vp On the flight to Las Vegas, Chris worked on sudoku and a crossword puzzle. Chris was always conscious about where she put down her pen - her favorite Space Pen. Sometimes she put it in her bag, sometimes in the seat back pocket or sticking upright from a crack in the armrest. But, this flight, as they prepared to land, she could not find the pen. She thought she had put it into a zippered compartment in the outside of her carryon bag. While waiting on the other passengers to head up the aisle, Chris searched frantically all through that bag pocket. It had some folds where things had gotten lost before. She checked all of those. No luck. Checked the seat pocket, the floor. No pen. Nowhere. Oh well, she had lost one of her favorite pens before. A few years ago when she was in training. Because of that incidence, she had bought several backups and even packed a second pen in her luggage on this trip. She gave up looking, let it go and moved on up the cattle chute and out of the plane. That was Thursday evening. A few days later at the conference, two people were talking behind her. It was distracting, rude, and inconsiderate. I wanted to glare at them, hush them, or and ask them to keep it down. I wanted to control those around me just to suit me. Yikes. How disgusting. Instead, I thought more deeply and realized my life would be better (and theirs) if I just accepted what was happening, adapted to the new environment, and turned my attention back to the conference speaker. Those previously annoying voices now just became part of the environment, like air conditioning noise, coughs, rustling of papers, and scooting of chairs. That makes so much more sense. I felt so much better. Why, I wondered, was I conditioned to try to control so much around me? Seeking some control is normal and healthy for survival. Seeking to change threatening situations or those that impair good things from happening for the society is probably good. But there's a limit. Sometimes it makes the most sense to just accept, adapt, and move on. On Sunday, the final day, I took the bag to the conference to carry my laptop. I accessed the bag several times throughout the day. About 6:00p, after the last speaker finished, I opened the bag pocket and there was the lost pen - sitting right in the middle of the pocket where I thought I had put it. I was amazed. For a moment, I believed it was a miracle. Then, I accepted that God is just not likely to play games with me and a pen. But, for just a moment, I considered the possibility that it was a miracle. This probably happens to many people, but instead of searching for a rational explanation, they just go with 'God must have done it'. Seemingly normal people able to shed their childhood beliefs in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus, are unable to do the same when it comes to their belief in God. Continued belief in any of these other childhood fantasies would be considered a sign of mental illness in adults. However, when the same magical thinking is used to maintain a belief in God, it becomes sacred and not open to discussion. Belief in God and its accompanying myths relinquishes personal responsibility and opens the door to potentially abysmal behavior. Fundamentalists are a danger to non-believers and those who believe differently. They are willing to kill in the name of their God to protect their religious dogma or to attain personal spiritual goals. The terrorism now being perpetrated by extremists is not much different than the atrocities committed by the Israelites in the Old Testament or the centuries of mass murder carried out by Christians during the Crusades and the various inquisitions. When world political or religious views are not based on logic and reason, the resulting behaviors are likely to be neither logical nor reasonable, as I learned from Richard Dawkins. The pen quite likely got stuck deep in a crevice and was dislodged when I carried the bag out of the room or set it down on the conference table. But, who knows?

© James Robert Watson, PhD, 2018