This is a little coming of age story. In every life there are forks in the road that determine your destiny; hopefully when you travel this journey more good decisions have been made than bad.
Where I started:
In between Jr & Sr high my father was relocated with his job and went through a divorce. Not only did I have to move from a town I grew up in and ‘knew everybody’ but had to make a choice of which parent to live with.
Because my dad was dealing with his own issues; I was pretty much on my own. I didn’t do too well; not bad, but more like a rudderless boat on a lake. I was a disinterested student at best. I had the abilities, just not a lot of want-to at that time and nobody was there to make sure it happened.
Come graduation time, I had no plan of action. I knew my dad wasn’t going to support me just to hang around the house, and higher education would have been a waste of time and money.
My fork in the road:
Fate, luck, I don’t know, but an Army recruiter started calling me 2 months before graduation……….imagine that, what timing. Trust me, I was not Army material and numerous phone calls ended with me telling him “no thanks”. Finally, so he would quit calling, I agreed to a visit.
I think you know where I’m going with this story and I soon became a lean, mean fightin’ machine. Sgt Rock I was not, I was 18 looking all of 15 at best.
The recruits were treated very well until we arrived at Ft Knox, KY on a bus in the middle of a rainy night. As soon as the Drill Sergeant jumped on the bus and screamed “this ain’t the damn boy scouts and you ain’t going home to mama”, I thought “holy mackerel, what have I done”? Mama was exactly who I wanted to go home to.
What I learned in basic training: I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought; don’t pick the biggest guy as an opponent in pugel stick training; tear gas is a bitch; and the hills of Kentucky are nothing like the flat lands of Florida.
Oh, and a couple of other things: the Army is not big on individualists; and all the knuckleheads you are in basic training with……….if you get deployed guess who is on your team? Lord help me…….
Fortunately I never had to put another person in the cross hairs of my weapon. We were trained to do so, but I’m thankful I never had to make that decision.
What my Uncle Sam did for me: it forced me to grow up; he showed me what I did NOT want to do the rest of my life; and he also provided the platform that gave me confidence.
On my journey:
When I was discharged and went back to school it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I could not believe I had been such a knucklehead in high school.
I absolutely hated the military when I was serving; I could not get out fast enough, 3 years seemed an eternity. I loved the fact the military taught me discipline, direction and how to take responsibility for my own life. Probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.
What was your ‘military’? What was the deciding point in your life when it finally clicked if anything was going to be done, it was up to you?
How many forks in the road do you come to and decide to take the easy route or go ahead and jump on the road less traveled?