Focusing on the exciting wasn't always easy for her, but she did it for so long that it became almost second nature, something that left many of us around the station in awe.
While other people might have spent their time learning to dance, or working out, or on various crafts, it seemed she spent her time trying to find excitement in every situation she happened to be in. We would come in on a gray Monday morning, sit around the conference room, dreading the coming week, and she would arrive pointing out something interesting we all missed. Sometimes it was something outside the window, sometimes it was something someone was wearing, sometimes it was actually related to the agenda we were discussing.
It was easy to roll your eyes at her attitude, but if we attempted to take a few seconds to see things from her perspective, it was just as easy to be convinced that things really weren't as boring and tedious as we previously thought. And she was convincing too. All that time training her observation skills had paid off like those who trained any other skill.
I spent most of my time debating politics on the internet, and could come up with a political position and talking points at the drop of a hat. She did the same with what she saw around her, except that nobody really wanted to debate her talking points. Deep down we all wished we could see her world as easily as she saw it. We wanted to be convinced, and we let her convince us.
I'd like to believe many of the stories we ran at the station owed their soul to her view of the world. It was an asset I don't think many of the higher-ups appreciated, especially if they never saw her in person. I suppose she had to make her own sacrifices to develop her skill, just as anyone else would have to sacrifice their time to pursue their favorite hobbies. We couldn't spend as much time on sculpture if we also wanted to learn the violin. I never did ask her what she thought she had to sacrifice most in her training and development of her unique skill. All I knew was that everyone at the station benefited from it, but only when she was around.
There were always a few days when she'd take off for one reason or another. Her absence would always be noticeable. Over the years, many of us had begun to pick up a thing or two from her way of thinking, so we did our best when she was out. But we were no match for the master. We didn't want to admit it, but we all looked forward to her return. Management, most of all, didn't want to admit it, if it meant they would have to allocate more budget to paying her.
But money never seemed to be an issue for her. Of course, she could always find reasons to be excited about money, but she could just as easily find ways to be excited about not having money. Sometimes I wondered if she even knew where she was going, or if she was just out to appreciate life as it was, to savor whatever or wherever the universe happened to put around her at any given moment.
She did eventually move on though. The day she left the station, we threw her a big farewell party. She said she was going to larger station. I presumed it was for more money, but I really had no idea. The force of nature was leaving our station, and I wasn't sure what the effects would be after she left. Maybe the days would be a little grayer, maybe the sun a little duller, maybe the music a bit more muted. I couldn't complain though. Nobody else had the same thing either.
I asked one of her closer friends later why she was really leaving. I was told it was because of family issues, but that's all I got. We tried as best we could to make up for her absence in our culture. It felt like the hole was growing with each day though. I took a look at some of the things I was doing with my free time and decided I wanted what she had.
There would have to be some changes. Time devoted to some of my other pastimes would have to be deliberately replaced by time spent trying to exercise a specific way of thinking, a specific way of looking at the world, and focusing on specific areas of that world. It felt silly at first, and it was so easy to fall back into my old habits since the results were so intangible - something that happened only in my mind.
Was I even accomplishing anything if I was just looking at the world differently? I suppose those were some of the same questions she must have faced when she started, and there I was, attempting to follow in her footsteps without a guide - merely an image of what things might be like if I succeeded. It would almost be like establishing a new religious belief for myself, which I thought was not only silly but more than presumptuous. But I had an example to follow.
Though she wasn't around anymore, and my memories of our past days were fading and becoming idealized, I thought I had found a star worth following. I was no longer sure if I was doing it for myself or the people around me, but I was hoping it would be worth doing for all of us.
The road may be long, but if it was as bright as I hoped, each step would be ever so slightly easier and better than the last. And if that wasn't exciting enough, it only meant I hadn't walked far enough in the direction of my unintentional teacher, who had disappeared into the distant lights, melting away in the summer haze.