Sunday, February 21, 2010

Marine Lawyer's Frustration

After hours of power point in a temperature controlled, state-of-the art classroom, I have an urge. Standing around, milling about, and stuffing food into my mouth in between power point attacks only intensifies the urge.

As my mind drifts away from the dull digitalized slides, I long to take up my rifle, fit it into the pocket of my shoulder and sight in on the points of danger: the doors. That is my urge: take up my weapon and be a Marine.

I do not need cammie paint, I do not need to black out the shine from my tracks. I need my rifle and an objective.

I have a mission that strains only my ability to absorb useful information. The information is only icing on the three years I spent learning my craft. But neither the useful information nor my craft challenge me the same as my chosen profession. I want the Challenge to extend to all my capabilities. I want to fight sleep, a wandering mind, the cold, the humidity, the heat, hunger, the urge to relieve myself, and stay focused on the kill zone.

The urge is what makes me a Marine lawyer and not a Navy or Army or Air Force lawyer. The urge was fostered and nurtured in the six months of basic infantry officer training. The urge carries six months of field training that brings reality and further understanding to Operation Law--something that is not fully understood by my fellow Navy student lawyers.

Perhaps we could move class outside for a time. Dig fighting holes before we conduct a mock administrative separation board or a court-martial.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Every so often I have a moment, a flash, of profound insight. The flash is always the same, but the emotional assessment that follows brings a smile to my mind.

In these singular moments, while I am driving 700 miles from Rhode Island to Virginia or sitting in a Starbucks rewriting and writing my story, I sit back and look at what I have done. I take two points in my life and compare the differences. The first is always the present--the instant I am existing in when the flash occurs--and the second is at any time before that. Usually, the second is more than four years back and some major event, like graduation from high school or from college or turning ten.

The comparison is always to show me how my life has progressed. The assessment is not to judge mistakes or second guess myself--although, I do a fair amount of "what if" wanderings outside my moments. Theses moment are only to show a snapshot of the past next to a snapshot of the present.

I always smile because each snapshot shows me how I've grown into adulthood, how I've accepted responsibility, how I've become more than an individual.

I pay bills and taxes; I buy computers, laptops, and cars; I surf the net unrestricted by age; I read the newspaper to know what is going on in the world, not just for the comics; I have views on political issues and mundane frivolities.

When--a dangerous word, "when," it implies experiences in the kind of sentence I propose. When I was 18, I knew I was not experienced in anything, that I was just then stepping into a semi-adulthood. I was no longer required to attend school, I had the right to vote and express my opinions with an air of Right, rather than gracious tolerance.

When I was 22 I had dusted off some inexperience and had been drunk, legally. I had a better understanding of what "full" adulthood meant. And I had honest to God debt--both good and bad debt. I had a job, but a detoured future.

At both those prior snapshots, I had some insulation from full reality. I had my parents to stand beside me during college to pay for necessities and help fund any other desires. At 22 I had my parents, but standing farther back, and I had a paternal education system protecting me from my education debt--however, driving me into credit card debt.

Attaining adulthood for the "normal" person is in gradual steps. Take one at 10 yrs old when the parents decide that you can mow the lawn. Take another at 13 when you start high school. And another at 16, and 18 and 21. It is easier to see why people go into shock when they go from childhood to adulthood in a matter of minutes, hours, days or weeks. The process should take years, just like growing physically takes years.

When--there is that word again--I look at my snapshots, I see that I have been fairly lucky. Lucky to have a stable home and family to grow and develop in and from. Lucky to have embraced the responsibilities I need to enjoy adulthood.