Cody Sterrett
24 January 2023
College Writing I
A Story About Me

“The Past, The Future, and Everything In Between”

Let’s take a moment to go back in time, within the past ten years or so. When I think of times that have made me, or times I seized some sort of opportunity, whether it be presented or created, I think about nearly any situation with my grandfather. It’s truly hard to pick one specific moment, nevertheless it must be done. This story begins at my grandparents’ house, specifically at their rustic walnut dining-room table. As a kid I spent many nights at this table; for the first seven-ish years of my life I lived with my grandparents, due to the fact my mother was a single parent and my grandparents offered to help how they could so my mother could be successful. This story begins at the table with my grandfather, and at this point I am six years old. It was this day I first remember learning how everything has its place in the world; there’s a purpose behind everything. This vast concept was put to me really simply by my grandfather, and looking back it was a pivotal moment for me growing up. It all started with simply drawing airplanes.

A little bit of background on my grandfather: he has several engineering and surveying licenses, as well as decades of experience in architectural drafting for things like stormwater drainage. He basically observed the world for a living. He loved it too, at least from what I remember. I often helped him in his home office, “the hut” we called it, by counting parking spots on city planning blueprints — probably the earliest concept of math I can remember. In any instance, he was, and still is, a man of precision. He saw the beauty in sharp corners and straight lines in everything he did. He passed this love of the world's intricacies on to me at a very young age, since it has inspired much of what I do, and the quality I do it with. Any night with grampa was a night to learn.

Even being as young as I was, I knew I liked airplanes and nearly anything that flies. I loved to draw them, I loved to make models of them, and as a kid I was actually pretty artistic. It wasn’t uncommon for me to just draw airplanes for hours on end, and usually I’d have someone draw with me. This time wasn’t out of the ordinary, just another night with grampa. For some reason, the night in question, looking back, was the night of startling revelation about the world’s systems and interactions. He decided to teach me about the use of scales and ratios in artwork. While drawing airplanes, he created the opportunity to teach me about how everything has its specific size, shape, and use in the world. As I was drawing the windows of my airplane, he, likely not imagining the great effect it would have on me, politely critiqued the size of said windows. He asked, “Why are the doors and windows of your airplane the same size?” This frustrated me at the time, but he was right, why were they the same size? I had no concept of scale and the intricacies of the world. That question really sparked the view I now have of the world: Everything has its place for its own reason. Why were the windows the same size as the doors? Why weren’t they? After he’d said this I quickly understood the purpose of both the windows and the doors, why one was one size and the other was a different size. Something as simple as “You don’t walk out of windows” really opened my eyes to the purpose of the things that make up the world. It was something so simple on a piece of paper, a little scribble of an airplane, that gave me this sort of enlightenment.

I took this enlightenment, so-to-speak, and I put it in everything I do. Every drawing, every model, every little art and craft had some intricate plan behind it. Everything had a place, a size, and a purpose. I could’ve just eye-balled it and said, “Sure, the door is bigger than the window, good enough,” but that defeats the purpose of scale. In real life, everything has its size and purpose, and I did my best to reflect that in everything I did. If I’m trying to copy the world around me, I ought to do it right. That one question at the dinner table shaped how I viewed the world, it was the ultimate opportunity at a young age. I was given the chance to see the world through the lens of both creativity and realism, which later on inspired other great works I’d committed myself to. Through creativity and realism, I had the perfect combination to make some truly great things. I’ve made scale wooden models, I’ve even made a giant Boeing 737-800 out of cardboard and paper mache (nearly 3 feet long)!

This importance of scale and purpose bleeds into everything I do. When it’s not scale dictating the precision I live life by, it’s purpose that I try to find in everything I do. In all reality, scale has dictated my life more than purpose. Until recently, I lived life by precision, the great big metaphor of sharp corners and straight lines. Sharp corners and straight lines and playing it safe are great and all, but they’re only as great as the meaning and purpose of why they’re sharp or why they’re straight as an arrow. With the beginning of the new semester, the beginning of a new period of opportunity, I found myself in a philosophy class. Philosophy, by definition, is the study of existence, and lo and behold, I was starting to study my own existence. Why am I living the way I am, and where is it getting me?

As I began to think about my existence in the world, and how I lived that existence, I realized there’s significant importance in the order of which to live by: scale or purpose. The answer is the latter. Living with purpose gives life scale; scale doesn’t give purpose to life. While in the pursuit of purpose, so far I’ve booked two different flights around the country. I’ve always wanted to travel more, and I’m starting to actually live with my income rather than hoard it in savings. I’ve started working harder in school, going as far as challenging myself with several extracurriculars. I've even been applying to several different jobs within aviation, in hopes to seize any opportunity that may be out there for me. Back to the windows and doors metaphor, aircraft windows aren’t (generally) 10” x 14” because someone said that would look good compared to the doors. No, they are 10” x 14” because they serve a specific purpose: a balance of view and safety. To go more in depth, aircraft windows are generally small due to the cabin being pressurized at high altitudes. Big windows, like in a car, needn’t worry about blowing out and causing a massive depressurization. They’re big because that’s their purpose, greater sight and therefore greater safety for the driver. The purpose behind everything dictates its place, its scale, in the world. All of this is a highly technical metaphor for the fact things aren’t the way they are just because things are the way; they are because they each serve a specific purpose. Doors aren’t just bigger than windows; they’re bigger than windows because their purpose makes them be that way. Life itself is given purpose by those who live it. Its scale, its sense of meaning, its overall gift of fulfillment, are dictated by the purpose it’s given.

I could’ve never known the significance of the “windows and doors talk” at the time I was still drawing airplanes. As life goes on, I’m able to give the windows and doors metaphor greater meaning. The grand probably-far-too-read-into-metaphor shows me that my search for purpose dictates my fulfillment of life. Thanks to my grandfather, I’m able to make my world come alive. His simple question set my standards high for what I can accomplish, but it has also shown me that anything is possible with the proper effort. I take that attitude with me everywhere I go and in everything I do. The world has a place for everything in it; everything has its purpose, just as doors are for entering where you’re going and windows are for seeing where you’ve been. In a world that moves at such a high pace, it’s important to remember to live with purpose.

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