August 1994, that’s when this story is centered, though it didn’t begin or end then. It actually begins right now in February, with my watching the Netflix series, Merlin. I have always been fascinated with magic or its possibility. Maybe miracles, too. But, is there any difference? People can believe in either or neither or both. Here are my thoughts on the matter.
I have always believed in the power of imagining my future and have watched it materialize in my own life more than once. For example, when I was an uneducated housewife and mother, with no idea of what my future held for me and no idea of my direction or desires, I would intentionally picture myself in an airport, wearing a broad-rimmed hat and carrying a briefcase, walking briskly. For whatever reason, this symbolized for me a woman of importance with work to perform. I used this imagery, perhaps for a few months and then forgot it, until one day, years later.
It was after finally earning a college degree and securing a job that occasionally involved travel. I was traveling for business (I don’t remember where or when) and suddenly, in an airport, I recognized that I was living the life I’d imagined for myself many years earlier with an overwhelming sense of deja vu.
I was working for an international company, Price Waterhouse, as a computer specialist. In that position, I had the privilege of working with computers and software during that time when personal computers were relatively new.
Price Waterhouse was an elite company that was very classist, if that’s a word. I was proud to work there, but I was not in their ruling class, because my work supported their accountants, who were the ruling class. In 1993, there was an announcement of a future award, the Merlin Technology Service Award, to be given for ‘innovative and creative use of technology.’ When I saw the award, a crystal and brass sword, an eight-inch letter-opener, I wanted it, however, I knew that it was intended for the accountants, to inspire their use of technology, not for the technology support staff, me.
This was in another age, before internet use was common. Price Waterhouse had about 50 offices in the United States, each with its own technology support group. The culture at that time was to protect your own knowledge, not to share it. Your personal knowledge was your power. Somehow, I never absorbed that message, but instead, developed networks across the country among technology staff, where we shared common technical problems and their solutions.
In August 1994, technology staff from all US offices were to gather for our national conference, as we did every year. Three days before we were to meet, I received a phone call, asking me to be prepared to be one of the recipients of the Merlin Award, but to not let anyone else know.
For any of us, there are only a few days that stand apart from all the rest, maybe a wedding day or graduation or a special birthday. That day of receiving that award – the certificate hangs on my office wall – is one of those days for me. The recognition and praise for the information sharing that I had facilitated, in front of my peers from across the country, was a magical day for me.
There is magic today, too, in the snow clinging to the trees under a bright blue sky, while we spin on a planet circling a ball of fire. How can we not believe in Magic?