Monday, December 01, 2008

Explaining the change

Anyone who's known me for more than a day over the past 5 years has known that I came into the military to escape a lousy, waning economy, serve some time in the Air Force, get more education and punch out and head back to what I was affectionately calling "real life." You all know that things seem to be changing lately when it comes to future plans. Some are supportive, some are confused, some are downright mad, but everyone is basically confused. How can someone who all but had a suit and tie grafted onto his body and nearly a Brooks Brothers tattoo be contemplating staying in the military. The area of most bases, especially this one, sucks; the pay is shitty; it's not near friends and family; and I'm underutilizing my brain most days. Well here's some explanation.

In 2008 people go their own way. So many people from my graduating class are all over the country. It's not easy to find a job you love or make a buck or survive in the northeast or just be plain old happy in this world anymore because everything is so damned complicated. So when you find a solution to that, you take it. When you wake up happy and fulfilled, you stick with it. When you're in an overall life that fills and warms you and doesn't make you want to jump off a bridge, you embrace it.

I CANNOT go back to downtown manhattan. I won't walk those cold streets to a cold job that means nothing to me. I won't take the path back into that false WTC station and pretend my life is the year 2000 again. A concrete jungle built of glass and steel with icy winds whipping through the narrow streets of downtown manhattan. Walking headlong into those gusts only to take refuge in a fluorescent world of hustle and bustle making a buck for the guy above you. And when your life falls in the shitter or something goes wrong, you walk away from it for a day or a week or whatever and nobody knows you're missing, nobody calls, nobody cares. it's the matrix. It's a machine and we're all just cogs in it. Identical looking in suits and ties filling robotic functions. And yes we all look the same in the uniform but when I picture downtown, it's colorless. And not in a Film Noir, black and white movie kinda way. In a world of color where the color has been removed and left empty. Desaturated and drained. Downright dreary. I dread the thought of it.

After all I've seen in this world and especially in that area and now throughout the rest of this world through camouflage eyes, how could I ever go back and pretend like none of this ever happened? How could I watch my military brothers and sisters go off to war and die to protect our freedoms and not feel like a traitor myself. Not a traitor to the country but to my comrades in arms for abandoning them. We, as a military, are not flush with personnel and we certainly are not without enough conflict to help resolve in the world.

All the while I was so focused on "life after Air Force" that it wasn't until recently that I decided to internally examine myself from a perspective of "during Air Force." It was then that I realized that all that I've done had come to mean something to me. It wasn't just a job anymore. It was a life and a lifestyle.

What I do has an impact. My life in the corporate world was meaningless. Some $700k/year guy would call me in a panic because he had no clue where his 10am meeting was because he knocked his PalmPilot cable out of his computer with his fat foot in $800 wingtips. Not a great legacy. Now... when my systems don't work - people die. When they do work, we help rid the world of more folks that want to bestow upon us pain and suffering like they did in September of 2001. Lest we forget that was attack 2 on the same building. They did it in '93 and 8 years later, they came back. It's not a real war of country vs country. It's extremist ideals vs our ideals. My usual theory of... you don't like it change the channel doesn't apply to extremists. They can't ignore us and will stop at nothing until we're dead. People who share the uniform with me try to stop that and despite what Communist News Network (CNN) tells you; we're doing a damn good job of it.

I don't think I changed my mindset about what's best for me. I think I just stopped and smelled the roses long enough to finally realize what was there all along.

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