Beginning a deployment can leave you feeling all the emotions of leaving home, feeling out of place, and disgruntled. After arriving in Manas to begin a second deployment, familiar places and faces provide opportunity to do it well the second time around.
Here I find myself, again.
Completely on the opposite side of the world from family and comfort, "stranger in a strange land" as Leon Russell would say. While walking around Manas Air Force Base, I noted the changes since my last trip here. New buildings and old buildings with different uses. I passed by the gravel area where we first dropped our bags for our initial in-theatre briefing almost three and a half years ago, and it gave me a moment of pause.
I remarked to SSG Mike Noer, my Chaplain Assistant, how frustrating it can be to pass over the same ground twice in life and have not yet learned the lesson or accomplished what one set out to do. It can be disheartening and take away your hopes and dreams, especially if you thought that you had "checked that box." It can cause you to not persevere through adversity, because you know just how hard it is going to be.
Conversely, it can be seen as a wonderful opportunity, a "do over", that gives you the chance to right the wrongs of the past and re-write your own narrative. In talking with another soldier who is going through the steps of his first deployment, I shared what wisdom I could, mainly that I wished I had takenmore time to write down the reflections I had along the way. I regret not capturing the details of experiences and emotions, because I know that someday it might help my boys better understand who I am was and who I became, and why.
And in reality, each day is that, a golden "do over." A chance to pause reflect and purposefully make and meet a goal. It has been said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I can see many places where that is true, but maybe those who learn from history are allowed to repeat it and make some corrections. And that is a very comforting thought.