Saturday I arrived in Austin, Texas, to speak at the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives annual CEO meeting this very Monday morning. I am very glad to be at this gathering. I admire the CEOs of the scientific and engineering societies so much. I know many of them personally and they are wonderful, dedicated, hard working leaders. They shepherd the engineers and scientists who create our infrastructure, generate knowledge, and contribute the science that makes our world both amazing and safe.
But, there is another dimension to my visit. Austin is where I grew up. When I walk outside and smell the night air, it sets off memories, triggers old associations, and brings back pleasant thoughts about my youth. I loved this city. It was a great city to grow up in 1964-1974. I was a university brat, as they called us in those days. My father was a professor of journalism at the University of Texas and I hung out on campus as much as I could.
I also played with horny toads as a child in the sandy soil that covers mid-Texas, went away to summer camp in Kerrville at Echo Hill where Kinky Friedman – then called Richard – was my camp counselor, and Inks Lake where I learned to scuba dive at Camp Longhorn. My family took long drives in the Texas Hill Country. We regularly drove to the Salt Lick in Round Rock for barbecue. I attended retreats with my dad’s grad students in Winedale.
All of this to say, my youth took place in the center of the one state that sometimes sees itself as a sovereign nation: Texas. That became part of my identity. I was explaining this to my daughter, Ruchi, who said to me, “Wherever you were a child, that is your home.” I asked her, “Do you feel that way about New Delhi?” And she told me yes, she did.
Home is an archetypal place. It is really in our hearts… and my heart is deep in the heart of Texas.
This week, where is your home? Where will you find the source of your actions? Is there a place that you consider yours?