IT'S NOT ALL BAD |
January 09, 2007
IT'S NOT ALL BAD
Posting date: 1/9/07
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: armysailor.com
I have the day off, which is a nice change of pace seeing as I have not had any real 'down-time' in about three weeks. It amazes me how much pressure there still is, this close to the end. But in any case, I took some time today to sit and meditate and reflect on the positive aspects of this deployment, and I have realized that it really isn't all bad.
I have met some fascinating new people and made some terrific new friends. I have been mentored by some truly impressive NCOs. I have met people who I really hope to keep in touch with, and some I hope to never see again. I have met more Christians here than in my entire life up to now, many of whom seem to take the whole religion thing far too seriously in my opinion, but who are good people nonetheless. I have met some truly impressive reservists, and some truly unimpressive active duty guys, which has helped break down many stereotypes for me.
I have seen some amazing views. I have seen views of mountains and valleys that most people will never get to see. I have gotten to travel over every type of terrain imaginable, in almost every type of vehicle imaginable. I have lived scenes that most people will only see in movies. I have had experiences which have given me a new appreciation for life, and all that I have.
I have had the opportunity to truly help people. I have fed the hungry, clothed the cold, and help provide medical care for the sick, wounded and weary. What is amazing, though, is that I think each of these experiences has helped me more than it has helped them.
I have a whole new appreciation for the Navy! I now know beyond ANY shadow of a doubt, that I joined the right branch for me. The Army is WAY too politically correct and Christian for my taste, the Marines are WAY too serious, the Air Force is FAR too sensitive and squishy. The Navy is the way to go for a fella who likes drinkin', fightin', travelin' and chasin' women!
I will leave the country Financially, Physically and Spiritually more well off then I came. I will leave debt-free with a nice little savings. It's easy to save money when you have nothing to spend it on, even when you are helping family at home. Despite some serious hearing loss, and some scrapes and bruises, I am in better shape than I was when I came. Spending a lot of time in the gym, and walking around in full 'battle-rattle', will definitely keep you strong. Spiritually I have had a lot of time to read, think and meditate while I have been here. I have read much of the Qur'an and the Bible, and I have realized that I don't really buy into either. I have discovered that there is a name for my spiritual beliefs. I discovered that I am a Deist. I have deeply explored and read the teachings of the Dalai Lama, and I have discovered the true value of reason over blind faith. I have learned a new appreciation for my fellow man, and the value of striving to do no harm. I have learned the negative aspects of attachment, and have worked hard to free myself of them. I have discovered that fear, while natural, need not be debilitating. If handled correctly it can be empowering.
I have also gained a new appreciation for my mother, who worked so long and so hard to make me the man I am today. And also for my first true mentor, HTCM(RET) Betterton, a man who met me when I was at a truly low point in my career. A man who I didn't know from Joseph, but who saw something in me. He managed to see enough in me that he took the risk of taking me under his wing. He taught me valuable lessons about leadership and life. He taught me how to pick my battles. He taught me many lessons to which I directly attribute my survival in this country.
So indeed, after much reflection, I have realized that I am taking away from this experience far more positive things than negative. If I had to choose whether or not I'd do it all over again, I can not honestly say yes -- after all, I miss my loved ones, good food, a warm body next to mine, and all the other comforts of life at home -- but I can't say no either. It would be a tough decision.