The Army definition of Leadership is being able to influence your soldiers' by providing them with purpose, direction, and the motivation necessary to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. Up till the day of deploying my unit had not been provided with a mission; we had no idea what we would be doing once we arrived in theater, hence we had no clear purpose, direction, and certainly no motivation. One wonders in this situation where should we even begin when it comes to improving this organization? Are these circumstances tragic, or simply satirical?
The Marine was the driver, a lean and fit individual who moved with the utmost ease as if he wore only a cotton tee instead of a heavy Kevlar plated vest. He jumped up onto the driver’s seat, looking quite entertained over the fact that the new soldier, that's me, was greener than Leprechaun piss.
"You ready," he asked, looking back at me. "Not afraid are you?"
I nodded and gave him a thumb up. I was as ready as I could get for somebody who had never been on a convoy through Afghanistan. I certainly never would have imagined I'd be riding through the city of Kabul in a single vehicle, with no other for cover from behind or ahead. This was my first day on the job in Kabul, and I was about to leave a base which I am not at liberty to mention the name of here. On this day all I knew of my job was that it would involve driving outside the wire once a week to pick up awards from another base, in the safety of an up armored SUV, with a Marine Corporal as the driver, and an Air Force Sergeant in the front passenger seat. All of us were personnel soldiers', this means we primarily worked in an office environment for the most part. My thumbs up, along with the large smile I gave the Marine was my silent way of saying, I'm ready to do something crazy.
As soon as we left the base and began driving through the chaotic streets of Kabul, (where nobody knew how to drive), the following random thoughts crossed my crazy mind;
"When you're thankful for something positive in your life understand that you would have nothing to be thankful for if there was no negative."
"Why do people think that when they swear on some ones grave this action counts for something? Swearing on a dead person shouldn't count for anything...they're dead! Are they going to vouch for your integrity?"
"Am I the only one who thinks the expression, "I give you my heart," sounds really morbid? Not to mention highly unlikely."
"The next time somebody who doesn't really know me walks up to me and asks, "Have you ever had one of those days?" I'm going to reply with "which day is that?" followed by "I ate a baby this morning and now I am miserably constipated and suffering with heartburn. Is this the kind of day you're asking me about? ....Because in that case-yes. Yes, I have had "one of those days."
"I believe I'm crazy...because in my crazy reality all technology runs on dead dinosaurs which have transformed into a black ooze that our world leaders fight over. You see in my crazy reality our world desperately needs the dead dinosaur ooze to save our economy. And on that note I know I'm crazy because everybody spends imaginary money which brings the entire world economy into debt, and the leaders in my country talk about needing to raise the imaginary "ceiling of debt" to save us from our loss. In my crazy world in my crazy mind this dead dinosaur ooze which the world economy needs to save us from the accumulated debt brought on by our spending of imaginary money is also destroying my crazy world with toxic fumes...Somebody help me, because I'm crazy!"
“I think it's funny how we as human beings can destroy each other and progressively all of the life on the planet and when a natural disaster like a tsunami or an earthquake kills thousands we say "What a cruel world!" Or "Why God!?"
“I think it's funny when somebody says, "I didn't deserve this!" following a break up, or a divorce. What do they even mean? If you were such a good spouse then why not have peace of mind knowing that your former partner has recognized how it’s they who don't deserve you.”
“The next time somebody I work with asks me "have you ever done something you really regret," I'm going to reply with “have you ever listened to yourself?”
“One time I heard somebody say “Everything is meaningless!” To which I felt like saying “I don’t understand what you mean…”
“You know the one thing that makes me angrier than dealing with a lazy, procrastinating person; Stubbing my toe on the doorframe while on my way towards the bathroom, because I’m desperately needing to take a piss in the middle of the night.”
“Why is it that whenever somebody loses their home, job, or a loved one everybody has to ask them "Are you all right?" People are sick!”
“I have discovered how in my life I frequently enjoy the use of metaphors. Someday I hope to foster a child and I will name the kid resentment. Or is the expression "harboring resentment" instead of fostering? In that case never mind.”
“You know what makes me want to laugh while working in an office environment; when somebody runs into my office and tells me that they are "in dire need of some assistance." In less they just accidentally punctured an artery with their pen, or somebody in the cubicle next to them just offed themselves because they finally had too much of the mundane routine; they're not in dire need.”
“I love it when somebody passionately makes a promise which they can in no way keep like, "Everything is going to be all right!" No, everything is not going to be all right. You just lied to my face. I am certain that there is allot in this world that is pretty freaking far from "all right." For starters I know that you're a liar.”
“People say "life is a bitch and then you die". That is not true ! I tell you that life is full of promise and hope...and then you die. In less you have Jesus of course...but even then in one way or another you're still going to die."
“The older generation of machismo men ask "Where are all the men at!?" What do they mean? There are all kinds of men around these days. The problem is they are all asking the same question; "Where are all the men at!?"
“People ask, "Whatever happened to the American Dream?!" I say-nothing! The problem is the waking up! Too many people have been dreaming for so long and now they all have to wake up to reality.”
“I love how it has been said one should respect the wisdom of their elders. If my elders are so wise than how come my generation has been left with two wars where the enemies were made by my elders, an economy that has gone to shit, and no social security for when the time comes for my old ass to relax and claim to be wise?”
“One should always strive to provide purpose and direction to their lives, and they should seek after the motivation necessary to press onward towards a clear objective in life.”
“If you cannot govern your own life and discover your own purpose then how could you possibly provide purpose to someone else?”
“If you lack the motivation than how can you motivate others?”
“If you have no clear mission to lead, through which you can also improve the organization where you work, then you are doing nothing.”
“I would have never known there were so many aspiring poets in the military if not for the use of public bathroom stalls in Afghanistan. I’m glad they don’t quit their day jobs.”
“The distractions in our day to day lives back home keep us blind to the reality around us, and ironically reality shows add to this problem.”
When our vehicle made it through the city in one piece and then passed through the gates onto the next base I had some revelations;
“Life is either a satire or a tragedy, there is no in between. It all depends on how dark your sense of humor is.”
“You can either laugh at how ridiculous everything is in this world, or cry.”
Once we drove through a second gate the Marine looked back at me and so did the Airman. I was laughing hysterically, and the looks on their faces made me laugh all the harder.