Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve '11

Ben,

It could very well still be the 30th for you... it's 2 am in NYC which means its.. ah yes, just past midnight on the commemorative day of your birth. Merry anniversary of your passing through the birth canal. I made a meme to mark the occasion. You'll find it on your Facebook wall.


I have so much to say that every time I've sat down to write ANYONE I am overwhelmed with the amount of emotion, information, and exhortation I wish to convey. So I usually end up trolling memebase with my scant 30 mins of internet time. lolzors

It's the 31st, my favorite day of the year. I'm sure you know, but New Years (Year's? Years'?) is my favorite holiday. There's nothing to be politically correct about, no tiptoeing around greetings - if you live in America (and much of the rest of the world) you celebrate this opportunity to start over. This is a formal opportunity to forget the past (as much as possible) and see things anew. It's rather invigorating, to me.

Also, I think I've read too many Joseph Decruex in the past couple internet sessions, because I feel like I'm typing in a very formal voice. Alas, high quality English is a pleasure in itself.

As formal as it might sound, I'm not really trying to say anything in particular to you; I just haven't had a moment in the past week to sit and reflect on the fact that a new year is nigh upon us. Usually this is a time of great reflection for me. In the past, I have made resolutions that lasted throughout the entire year - but only after weeks of careful consideration planning. Since I haven't had that luxury in my current circumstances, I feel like any resolution I make now will be half-assed and out of habit, rather than a real commitment of improvement.

But I don't fret - I see my return to the US as the most freshest of beginnings, completely overshadowing the symbolic and semi-literal turning of a new corner that is new years (yearses?). I've been thinking a lot about what I want to improve upon my return, and so I'm saving the meat of my resolutions for the March/April timeframe of my return to civilization.

However, every year I make resolutions there are always three categories that I am sure to commit to improvement, namely body, mind, and spirit. Even just one resolution in each category that I am fully committed to - and have a plan for - has made worlds of difference in each new year. To that end I've been exploring which resolutions are most important to me in each category for when I return.

I have been thinking, though, of life after the Army. Odd, considering I just barely commissioned and started my time on Active Duty; but I find that it is in my nature to plan ahead - even years ahead. If I don't, the present has no meaning for me.

Take case#1: High school. I was planning to attend the Air Force Academy for the majority of my high school career. To that end, I strove towards a standard of academic excellence that I would not have otherwise achieved. I also participated in as many sports and extra curricular activities that I could. Take Cross Country and Track for example - I didn't even like them! Attending practices was a chore, not something I enjoyed. But I did it for the goal. The goal gave me purpose. And even though I eventually chose NOT to attend the Academy, I had an Academy-worthy high school career because of the goal (ah the glory days).

Take case#2: ROTC. In ROTC you are awarded points based off of GPA, physical fitness, and extra curricular activities. All the Cadets in the nation are ranked according to how many points they have by the end of their third year. Those with the highest points at the end of their third year get to choose their career in the Army, while those with lower points are assigned a career. Since GPA is the single-greatest source of points, there is a lot of emphasis on keeping your GPA high above all other considerations. To that end I worked to maintain a high GPA... to the end of my third year. Once the rankings came out, I realized that my fourth year was largely "going through the motions" of graduating. As far as ROTC and the Army were concerned, as long as I didn't fail my final year I was getting the career of my choice. As a result, I relaxed a lot during that senior year. I had no goal to give meaning to my hard work and achievement.

Take case#3: IBOLC and the present. I really had no motivation for excelling in IBOLC. Besides the fact that I hated everything about the institution, I started with a predisposition towards mediocrity - simply because I had no goal. I wasn't working toward anything - no goal, no higher station, no higher cause. Granted, I was preparing to deploy, but I had been doing so for near a third of my life, and this is hardly a concrete goal. And even now that I'm here in Afghanistan, the focus of my unit is making it home over anything else. This company - and specifically this platoon - has suffered enough causalities. The prevailing wisdom is that finding one IED or one cache, or killing one Taliban is not worth the life of another soldier this close to coming home and this late in the conflict. And so I find myself just doing what needs to be done.

I realized the other night that what I'm missing is a goal - something to work towards, something that to attain requires me to push beyond my limits and go outside of my comfort zone, like I did in school. And so I've begun looking to my post-Army life (or maybe just late-Army life?) in order to find some direction for the way I should preform now.

I will say that I'm mildly ashamed that I don't have the drive to just excel for the sake of excellence... but let's be real. I'm human. Maybe that's something I can work on for the next year - excellence for the sake of excellence. But until I can truly say that that is my new paradigm for achievement, I'll need a goal to help inform and direct my weak human will.

Hm. I didn't mean to go where I did with this letter, but that's what happens when you start talking to someone who you know will listen to your soul searching. I was going to write a completely separate blog post for New Yearz (yeah that works), but now I think I'll just post this letter instead. Happy Birthday and New Year. Make it count.

Sky