Monday, November 02, 2015

Finding Soldierly Solace

The Colonel has been officially retired from the United States Marine Corps for an even dozen years now. 

After spending the better part of three decades immersing himself completely in the role and mindset of a warfighter, the first several years out of uniform were..., well..., difficult.

The Colonel spent the first year -- the entire year, everyday -- fishing.

He was living in Panama City, Florida.  What else could anyone expect the Colonel to do?  The Colonel and his boat, SemperFish, became as one.  They glided the bays and bayous in self-imposed solitude, seeking elusive finned quarry and finding a measure of solace the need for which the Colonel was initially unaware.

In fact, as excited as he was to finally take off the pack, the Colonel grieved for several years after leaving active duty.

He grieved loss of daily contact with Marines -- men and women with whom the Colonel shared bonds unfathomable to the uninitiated.  

He grieved loss of a worthwhile mission.  There was nothing in his new civilian life that provided the meaning and adrenal gland workout of preparing young men for battle -- on any battlefield. 

He grieved loss of identity.  The Colonel had achieved rank and authority far beyond his wildest dreams and further beyond the wildest imagination of anyone who knew him in the less-than-stellar early years of his career.   When he put in his papers, the Colonel was commanding a regiment of Marines recruiting a new battalion of young men and women for service as Marines every month.  The Colonel went from the dead sprint of that challenge to the slovenly loaf of a fisherman overnight.  He soon began to wonder who he was.   

And, then, when he got most of the way through the grieving process, the Colonel re-engaged.  He was too old and set in his military ways to learn to be a true civilian, but he figured he could mold and shape enough of his military mind and mindset into acceptable thought and behavior for success in the civilian world.

It worked.  To a point.

But, the strain of adapting to the slovenly thought and behavior widely acceptable in the civilian sector, and the constant stress of navigating the minefields of political correctness and others' "feelings," proved too much for the Colonel's self-discipline, and when the cracks began to appear they rapidly widened into chasms from which toxic anti-social molten ejecta spewed and set fire to so many of the Colonel's carefully crafted military to civilian bridges that no retreat back to normalcy was possible.  
So, the Colonel withdrew from the civilian battlefield.

And, now, he finally thinks he's found his place.  He doesn't fit in anywhere and he doesn't care.

Don't pity the Colonel.  Or do.  He doesn't care.

The Colonel doesn't hate you.  He just doesn't care.  He hopes and prays the best for you, but he doesn't care what you hope and pray for him.

The Colonel doesn't even care what you think about what he writes...

...just don't stop reading, okay?   

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