So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.
George S. Patton, Jr.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face
1 Corinthians 13
It was a good end to a Friday.
I bought groceries on the way home. Dropped them off at the house and called some old friend on my way to run a personal errand. My wife, bless her heart, inadvertently shattered my coffee press this past Monday and I sought to replace it.
While driving my mind wandered, questioning some decisions I had made this past week, as well as resolutions.
This time I hope to be bigger than I have been.
I was far from an excellent soldier. I loved my time in service.
I have written often as to how I miss it. And how I wish I could return. I have also often said the civilian life did not work for me. That I have spent practically years trying to recapture something that seemed lost to me, or just out of reach. Vainly grasping at mists on the horizon, I have stumbled through the last several years.
Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself fairly successful. I have little, if nothing, to be angry about save for myself.
All that is dust on the wind, quite frankly.
I inhale the mixture of cigar smoke, coffee and leather from my truck as rain drizzles on my windshield. I close the sunroof but leave the door windows down. It isn’t raining that hard, and the breeze is nice.
At the beginning of this of this week I came to several conclusions. One, I did not like my job. But who does really? For every person who loves their job there is three times as many who hate there’s. Lets face it, the current job market is not exactly rampant either. So one way or another I am sticking it out.
Two, while I want to continue my education, I do not want to finish it at University of Phoenix. While many will say that the school is easy, my own experience has been quite the opposite. The classes require dedication as well as perseverance, and study. Had it not been for my wife I probably would have crashed and burned in the math portion.
Three, I am not content with my place in the world, or in society. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions of grandeur, to become the Hugh Hefner of Mountain, Missouri or perhaps the Steve Jobs of Cassville, MO. However I do not like what I have become versus whom I was.
Don Henley comes on the radio. I have always connected with his solo works. I used to listen to Boys of Summer while cruising the beaches of Allatoona Lake in Georgia, hoping to catch glimpses of the lasses I knew from school, but always seemed out of reach. Long haired, scrawny guitar players are not as lucky as some would think in that area, nor at that age.
This one is End of the Innocence . I lost mine ages ago. My first deployment, and subsequent years after enchained it where ever it vanished too. However i feel that what I wanted then can be brought back if I regain something I have not had in years.
I once had the will do to anything, take on anyone, no matter how stupid, courageous, or idiotic. I felt I could conquer the world with a hand tied behind my back and charge hell with a bucket of water. Hannah bar the doors boys, guess who was in town.
Somewhere alone the way….I quit.
I quit doing. I quit trying. I quit putting up a fight. I just walked away and became a slave to a system I detested.
My graduation last month changed a lot of that and i have been digging up bones ever since.
The first problem i am already working on. I’m continuing my education. If for no one else than for my daughter. Sure I’m about 10 years behind everyone I knew back when but you got to start some damn place right?
The second problem was a little harder. I have loved the University of Tennessee for years. I went there briefly, only to walk away. I can’t change it immediately, but I discovered that I can, indeed, change it eventually. Tennessee it seems has a Masters program that is Online. I requested, and received, an application as well as program information. I do qualify, after speaking to a counselor via phone. I have less than a year left on my Bachelors, but I will be starting the process of transference by this time next year.
The last problem is much harder. I have a prosthetic hip. I’m a solid 60lbs heavier than I should be. I am neither athletic, or lithe any longer. I am, bluntly, fat and out of shape. I draw a disability from the Veterans Administration. I could only run 2 miles in 17 minutes if there were a Taxi in the area to assist me.
The last time I tried to go back in I got pegged by a car. Once again, I quit. I didn’t try again. I didn’t go back.
Quitter. I was no longer bigger than myself. I am not currently.
Monday was hell. At the end of the day I all but stormed out of my office, put my truck in to gear and practically set a land speed record back to my domicile.
Huddled over my laptop, in the dark that night, I made a decision.
I sent a E-mail to the Missouri National Guard requesting a OCS packet. If your going to aim, aim high and if your going to swing, swing hard.
I am prior service. I was honorably discharged as a enlisted man. I have a degree, and over 70 credit hours with a 3.5 GPA. I have an array of experience in the telecommunications field and have worked overseas as a soldier, a DOD contractor, and as a civilian.
And somewhere deep inside, I still have will and a desire to be more than I am.
I picked up a kettlebell on my way home from work today. I already bike ride. I did a 7 mile jaunt recently around the Pea Ridge National Battlefield, so i know the capability is there, it is the culpability of my mind that worries me.
After a long conversation with the Lieutenant in charge I have a year. All documentation needs to be in by 31 December, and while I could try to do it all in 5 months, with my weight and my education I think it is much more realistic to try for the following term. Also if you have ever seen a OCS packet, it isn’t small. Over 80 pages of security background, locations and history. My living locations alone will need extra pages and time to research (if you moved every day 2 to 3 years of your life could you remember every address you ever had? Didn’t think so)
But in order to succeed at goals, they have to be realistic, and even if they reject my application in the end, I will have won my will, and my determination back.
So why do I write all this? Sympathy? Pain? Wax eloquently about boring crap that no one really gives a rats ass about?
No. As I said, somewhere along the way I grew soft. I walked away from my kicked pride and gave up.
This is my first effort at letting it loose and gaining it back.
What I want, dear readers, is for someone to bear witness. To tell me “Hey dumbass, get back in the saddle.” To keep me honest. To help keep me on the white line. Encouragement even. No matter how wrong I am with this whole idea.
G. Gordon Liddy once said “They were afraid, never having learned what I taught myself: Defeat the fear of death and welcome the death of fear.”
I had that lesson once, and I lost it.
I know I can do this. And Lord, how I want this, how I want to be a part of something that means something, even if it is only to me, once again.
Screw the politics of it, the challenges. I don’t care about the war, or the the fact that what I’m doing is foolish and out of some self effacing rendition of pride.
It is my life.
And I am taking it fucking well back.