I can taste the end of all of this now. Six months of tough training is nearing a conclusion. Long hours, restricted freedoms and challenging academic and physical tests; almost done.
This weekend is a 4-day weekend for my platoon. Then it’s back to class for the final surge. I’ll be getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of beer, and finishing a few books I have in my locker, in particular Niall Ferguson’s, War of the World and Marcus Wynn’s, Brothers in Arms. Lots of Outback steak and football too.
Free time tatses so good now. The Army’s version of Stockholm Syndrome has me appreciating the little things in life. It also has me missing things like friend’s and family.
This is Columbus Day weekend. I hope that people take the time to browse some history on Columbus, even if it’s just a wiki entry. Whatever people think of him, he had some qualities that are of benefit to everyone. The man simply wouldn’t quit. In the Soldier’s Creed, one of the first things an American soldier is required to commit to memory, are the lines: “I will never quit, I will never accept defeat.” Neither should we, neither should this country.
In the past, I’ve quit too often, I think. I learned at an early age that quitting works to alleviate pain in the short term. I ran away from abusive homes five time, slept in bus stops, on sidewalks, in abandoned cars, on some of those nights where the chill of autumn in Maine was preferable to domestic strife. That was a long time ago and it’s certainly no “Million Little Pieces” story, but those times make me who I am now, because I remember them more vividly than things that happened last week…
I quit high school too, before getting a general education degree and then going to college. At that age, and to some extant even now, I was searching for something, more appropriately someone, to fulfill me and make me feel of worth. This was a huge mistake on my part. Our sense of value cannot come from others. Mine comes from my own view of what is right and wrong and my faith in God. We must consider how our actions affect others, but ultimately the best men do what they know to be right. Honesty with self is the most prized of attributes–and that’s called wisdom.
I quit in marriage too, though of course it takes two to tango. There’s regret about almost everything that I’ve quit, and a sense of pride in all of the things that I’ve toughed out.
There’s a character in my novel: Cliff Harding. Cliff wrote a cheesy book called, The Meta Life. He sells it on paid ads. That book, though filled with foolish anecdotes, presents the theme of my novel, and it’s a lesson we can all use: Nothing good is easy.
Don’t quit worthy causes. Never give up the fight. After 37 years, this slow-learner has finally learned that lesson.