It’s a lot like I’d expected: 14 hour days, 7 days a week (well, the XO grabbed me around 1430 yesterday and ordered me to take liberty for the rest of the weekend). But it’s interesting work and leveraging skills that I most want developed, so color me happy. I think I’ve written on this blog before that I am most comfortable when I’m uncomfortable. That’s the case here, and I’m doing the requisite moaning while feeling the *rightness* of going 100 miles-an-hour with my hair on fire.
And that made me think of something: I was watching the recruits of one of our training companies in a close order march. Column of twos, about thirty sailors long. Their company commanders jogged alongside, shouting instructions at them, unflinching and unwavering in their determination to train these kids for rough seas, for toxic chemical spills, for barricaded criminals, for war. The recruits, as you can imagine, were terrified, sweaty and shaken, faces pale and eyes wide.
And *I* remembered those days. I went through the same thing on the Academy grounds. I remember the terror, the exhaustion, the hyper-vigilance. It was grueling. It shivered me down to the roots. I thought it would never end. I thought I would never make it.
But as I look at those recruits now, I realize that there was a kernel of pride in those shivered roots, a secret voice whispering to me that I *would* make it. That I *could* do this. That everything would work out. It’s only in being tested that you learn what you’re capable of. There are whole sectors of life that are open to me by virtue of my willingness take risks. I’ve been stepping off cliff edges for over twenty years now, and each time I’ve fallen into something more and more wonderful.
And as I watch those kids, I realize that I love those days. That I cherish them. That I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Because I did make it, and everything worked out just fine. A few, short years later, I am an officer assisting with the training of these men and women, working to tell their story.
That’s a good lesson to remember. I currently live in shoebox sized apartment in a bad neighborhood in Brooklyn. I am watching the publishing and book retailing industries roil around me, just as I quit my job and commit myself to the writing discipline as a way to feed myself. There are times when I feel there’s no way I can do this. It’s grueling and exhausting and terrifying.
But I’ve got gold on my shoulders now, folks. And the only way to get it was the slough through the mud. To trust the process. To hold fast as the kraken fastened itself around the hull and squeezed. Something tells me it’ll be the same here. The outcome may be different, but a day will come when I’m going to see a struggling, starving new author mooching drinks at a convention bar as he tries to work the angles. And I’ll look at that kid and think “man, I miss those days.”