I’ve neglected to write entries for the “Pages From My Pocket” series for several weeks now. Work has been ridiculously stressful and busy, and by the end of a commute and dinner, I grow weary. And then writing becomes hard. And since this time has elapsed, I recognized that the neglecting to write had got me thinking about the other things in my life that I have been neglecting. Which brings me right back to that old, tan, dusty and worn-out notebook.
In my notebook from the Surge I found some loose-leaf stuff wedged in between some of the pages. Like a time machine, they were wedged into pages that represent a snapshot in time. There is a business card for some Iraqi construction companies who were seeking contracts with American forces on infrastructure reconstruction; there was a note that was passed to me in a meeting to pass to my commander, citing that P Troop had 2 WIA’s, one GSW and one broken leg; there was a cut-out of a commander’s battle-update slide on a project we were working to use as talking points at some meeting with sheikhs; and then I found a note to myself.
“Post-Deployment Dream List”. Goals for post-Army life. I thought that this was an interesting list of things to have compiled as I had little memory of actually doing so.
Some seem normal; rekindle my love of the canopy via some skydiving, see if I still like fishing. Some seem lofty; own a horse (as somehow becoming an author – a feat only accomplished ten years after the fact, and which does not mean I am accomplished, successful, OR earning enough to buy and board a horse). Some were more spot-on.
Don’t become fat, old, and bald; Oh. Shit…
Keep TV in my life to a minimum. Wow. That is so profound that I recognized that so early on. When I was stationed at Fort Lewis back in ’04, we had cable. I had basic cable during my brief married years (2) that I didn’t often use, and I have a fairly robust cable package now (because my better-half likes her shows, and sports).
In Iraq there was no TV really. We watched a lot of DVDs bought locally or sent for in the mail. In ’07-’08 there were a LOT of ripped movies available on the shared drive on our Squadron’s computer network, inherited from the unit we replaced (and no doubt inherited from the unit they had replaced as well). I watched some movies or TV shows, but I spent a proportionally larger amount of time reading. I loved to read and I still do.
Being disconnected from TV and the outside world (by proxy, ala mass media) was just fine by me. I found things in the ‘real world’ often bored me or enraged me. When I was going through my divorce all I did when I got home from long grueling days at work was watch Netflix. I streamed stuff endlessly, occupying my weeknights and weekends, indulging in a lot of documentaries on all sorts of topics. I watched some shows, too. I find now that although I still enjoy and prefer to watch things via Netflix or Amazon Prime TV, going to the TV seems to be the default for me.
It is one of the first things I head for, either after coffee on a Saturday morning or with a cold beer after a long day at work. And I wonder why? I work a sedentary office job; I have shitty commutes, sometimes not too bad and definitely not as bad as I used to have when I lived farther away, or when I worked in Chantilly – but why do I want to end a day or begin a weekend by plopping down on the couch in front of yet another screen, and watch someone else’s life?
I should not neglect my own. Being a home owner (finally) sees me doing chores and tasks, which keeps me away from the boob-tube. But I need to take a lesson from my former self – when I was more active, had more to lose, and apparently had more insight than I do now.
So on this 2016 Veterans Day / Remembrance Day, pause to honor and remember those who served gallantly, honorably, and quietly; But also pause to remember who you once were, and the wisdom and insight your service gave you. Least we forget…