The Level of Suck
Now there's something you really probably haven't calculated in your life alot. We judge our levels of sleepiness, over-worked-ness, hunger, loneliness, happiness, etc., but have you ever really took a good look at how much things suck?
It's hard to put this soldier-ism into words, usually it is just gauged with a hand gestured as to how high the actual level is. It is a fairly accurate measure of life in the field, where the baseline level of suck rises quite high, and from then on there are several factors which can affect this level: heat, cold, food-quality, food-quantity, the amount and type of precipitation and angle of it's approach, how long since the last shower or change of clothes, the quantity and quality of sleep, how many times you are woken up with mortar drills of indirect fire, how long its been since you've talked with a loved one...how many memorials you have attended lately...
On any given general day, I would guess that the average civilian has a low level of suck. In fact since being home, my level of suck has drastically fallen. But there are hundreds of volunteers who have accepted a level of suck that escapes definition. They are, in a sense, a Maslovian experiment in the hierarchy of needs, consistently testing the theory that one cannot progress towards actualization (finding ones true self) until basic needs are met.
I would propose that those who enjoy a high level of suck know themselves better than most, and have found out the real nature of tangible needs:
1. Sleep is overrated when you have a sense of purpose.
2. Food is for fuel, not for comfort.
3. When everyone's level of suck is high, the jokes are much funnier.
4. When we go through it together, we are bonded inseparably.
5. Boredom and down time is draining, stress produces energy.
I am learning a lesson in the Army that I learned early in marriage. It is within the crucible of conflict and difficulty that anything worth keeping is refined and made solid. The higher the level of suck, the more chances we have to step into greatness. Those who run from adversity, rather than embrace it, are missing the perfect opportunity for self-actualization...finding out who they really are.
I am glad to be home, and have enjoyed my family more with each passing hour. I do not have time to argue, but only to pour myself into every moment. To say "I Love You" at every opportunity, hug my wife and sons like there is no tomorrow, and to thank God for every moment. I loved my time in the field and look forward to deployment. I love my soldiers and pray that I will not have to memorialize any of them. They are the best of America, and inspire me.