10
Apr
08

What it’s all about

It’s not about being a hero. It’s not about flag-waving.

It’s about opportunity and my own constitution.

Some people think I joined the army because I’m a patriot. I am a patriot, but that’s not the only reason that I joined.

People do best in life when they find what they do well, and find others that can accept that or do it well with them. As for me, I’ve found that what I don’t do well is sit still. I’m terrible at it. I need to get dirty and feel tired, but also feel like I’ve accomplished something. Like in those long eight game softball tournaments that I used to play in on weekends. If you managed to play eight games, you probably managed to win a trophy, and it was a great feeling being tired and fulfilled at the same time. The days following a tournament, I could allow my body to rest and sharpen the other aspect of myself that I need: My intellect.

Being a police officer allowed me to use both my physical and intellectual capacities to varying degrees, though the frustration of that work eroded the benefits. In the army, I can get dirty, get tired, then get down to studying the relationship between Shiite and Sunni tribes in Iraq. Or whatever.

I grew up in semi-rural Maine. My father was an outdoorsman. He taught me at an early age to shoot a rifle and shoot it well. Same with a pistol. Those skills stayed with me my whole life, and I nearly always shot perfect scores for the police department with my duty-pistol. He taught me to be tough too. When other kids were watching cartoons, I was paddling canoe with Dad, a professional canoe racer himself, and hiking through miles of woods around Brandy Pond. When I got hurt, my dad never said :”Toughen up, wuss.” He said, “You’re tough.” He never let it come to my mind that I wasn’t rugged. “You’re tougher than a bag of hammers.” That’s what he’d say. And he said it in a way that made me want to be strong in order to please him, and to this day I think that was his greatest gift to me. Thanks Dad.

I can work behind a desk if I’ve gotten all of the physical stuff out of my system. I need to exhaust my reserves though, or I start to think about chewing on rocks. The army will allow me the exhaustion I need to function.

Really, I’m still a kid. I like comics. I like video games. I hate doing chores. My energy got me into some trouble as a kid, but any aspect of the human spirit can be used for good or evil, so lets get to doing good…

So in the end, the army is about putting my best characteristics to good use. I’ve been assigned an MOS for which I have a great interest, in addition to Jump School at Benning, where I know I’ll get to stay tired, but hopefully uninjured.

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