I know… This is supposed to be a travel blog for the two of us, but I just left my first job since college – a job I had for my entire adult life so far… I think that deserves a bit of a tribute.
I consider myself lucky. The first real job I really had was one that I wanted to do since I was a kid. Well, kind of, anyway… more on that later.
I blame one too many readings of “Treasure Island”, “Around the World in 80 days” and even “Huckerberry Finn”, but I’ve always been drawn to setting off on a sailboat, exploring far-off places, meeting exotic locals, having swashbuckling adventures (you get the idea…) That’s why I leapt at the opportunity when the Navy came knocking… Offering to pay for my college tuition on top of the implied promise of adventure sealed the deal for me.
Looking back, I’m not sure it was a totally well thought out decision. Nobody told an 18 year old me that “it sounds SO cool” is not exactly the best basis to make a life changing decision on.
Over time, I got to find out that being in the Navy entailed more than just “setting off on a sailboat, exploring faroff places, meeting exotic locals, having swashbuckling adventures”.
In my short time with the Navy, I was lucky enough to be able to have sailed to some of the most beautiful places, seen some of the most spectacular sights and met some of the most amazing people I never would have if I hadn’t joined the Navy. A lot of the experiences I had were life-changing: You truly start to appreciate
– how small we are in the grand scheme of things when you’re in the middle of the ocean, with nothing but water for thousands of miles all round
– how similar everyone in the world really is when thrown in a surrounding with 20 people from 10 different countries, or how different everyone is when thrown in a ship with 71 people from 71 different backgrounds
– how much we take for granted when you meet children whose core day to day concern is if there is enough drinking water.
– and more importantly, how simple life really is (It never gets old watching the sun rise and set over the horizon on a clear good day)
So… Boom de ya da…
The thing about being in the Navy also meant that I was inducted into a Fraternity with a long history and many grand traditions. I am a sucker for these traditions because the notion of following in the footsteps of so many that has gone before is just too darn… dare I say it? romantic… the Age of Sail was what started our journey towards a flatter world. I enjoyed finding out how some of our present day words, habits and superstitions stemmed from the beliefs of sailors from long ago.
But like I’ve said… Unfortunately for me, being in the Navy is much more than that. Beside sailing around and having fun, there actually is a lot of other work that needs to be done. (imagine my surprise…)
Seriously, the modern Navy is much like many other corporate organizations these days. There’s a ladder that needs to be climbed and many ways to climb it. One of my major mis-perception about the Navy is that being in it means being away from the Rat Race… Apparently not.
It is just one of my many mis-perceptions about the “Organization” that I worked in for the past 10 *gasp* years. Mis-conceptions that I cannot reconcile. Mis-conceptions that I just cannot make sense of. So when people asked me what it is that made me want to leave the dream job of my childhood, it brings to mind a scene from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman..
Following Morpheus’ death In The Wake,
Matthew, the Raven asked, “Why did it happen? Why did he let it happen?”
Lucien (the librarian) remarks, “Charitably… I think… sometimes, perhaps, one must change or die. And in the end, there were, perhaps, limits to how much he could let himself change.”
So Yes, I still love sailing and the smell of salt in the air. (in my hands, in my skin and in my bushy ass crack hair) (sorry, just had to do that)… There’s something to be said about never forgetting your first love. (Sorry Jo)
Yes, I still love the company of great men whom I have the honor of serving with.
And yes, I still love the country I swore to protect when I first signed on many many years ago.
But No, there are still some things that I just cannot change.
Now for something completely different…