Been a while, eh internet?
As stated in the little ‘about’ section, I’m a study case for hobby-add. On and off again, I always come back to writing.
So, what’s up?
Well, we’re starting the 2017 garden. Lots of veggies planned and some to a larger growing scale with a sinister little plan to win a ribbon at the Burford Fair. I’ve taken up baking as a sideline passion to the regular cooking routines I’m duty-bound to as the resident foodie in House Dungey, too. If the winds will carry the idea, I’d like to sell a few loaves at the fair this year as well. Coaching tee-ball in upcoming months and anxiously awaiting BBQ season, but beyond all that, something bigger.
I was introduced to the basic idea of a standing army at the same time as most little, Canadian boys. From flipping through the white-covered, knight-filled picture books in my school library to ‘playing army’ with reversed hockey sticks in my backyard, I’d always held soldiers as a ‘hero’ figure. When I was a little older, a keen passion for the second world war led me to learn about my great grandfather. He’d served with the Black Watch and valiantly gave his life on Black Friday.
When I lived in Thunder Bay for a stretch, I had submitted my application to the Army Reserve. I knew it wouldn’t be a popular decision with my family, but knew as well that I was ready to take it on as the biggest personal challenge I’d come to meet yet. Further, I couldn’t help but feel like I had to go volunteer my time and effort. Unable to explain, it was just something I had to do.
Then, I came home.
When we had learned of a family member’s brief brush with ill-health, it brought everyone back to Brantford. I abandoned a failing University program, a dead-end job and an open application with the military to return home. In the long run, that would prove a worthwhile decision, as I’d pick up not only a job, but my current career in IT. We eventually planted roots in Brantford and, some handful of years later, the bug in the back of my head is present again, driving me to green.
I initially looked for other avenues of service. Particularly, after a disruptive New Years Eve, I canvassed local St John Ambulance and Red Cross offices for opportunities to ‘give back’ to the services that had done such an exemplary job helping our family through crisis.
In honesty, I was somewhat disappointed with my reaction to crisis. Without going into too much detail, there was a medical emergency that really shook me up. That, I saw, was an opportunity to go ‘practice’ being in crisis situations. Is that weird?
After I found out that St. John Ambulance just ‘didn’t need any more volunteers (what a good problem to have, right?) I luckily received a call from the Red Cross. I had applied for the ERT team – a position that, in the event of a local or national emergency, would pull me away from home, to help. This brought up some meaningful conversation between me and my wife, where we would eventually come to the conclusion that our family was well structured and prepared for some time without Daddy around, if that’s what it took.
On that note, I felt and feel like it’s a good example to set. Service, I mean.
I’m an able bodied, motivated man of 30 years old. Far from retiring to coastal cities or reclining chairs, I’ve got a lot of fight left. I feel like people with the means to do so are morally required to dedicate a part of themselves to active progress – or – the cause of helping the society that houses them, protects them and provides for them the opportunities we so often take for granted in a world designed to push difficulty and failure.
Enter, the Army.
I waited for 6 months before the Red Cross would arrange an in-person interview. I was notified via e-mail that an in-person interview was scheduled – the next day, at 10am. Sorry, Red, but normal working people need more notice. After e-mails sent with no response (another frustrating facet of trying to volunteer with them) I essentially gave up. I needed to give back and knew that chasing ERT and the rest of them was just an attempt to fill a void.
The next conversation with my wife was more difficult. She’d known, after I told her a few times through the years that the only real regret I’d been living with was in not following through with joining the Army. Really deep down, I’m terrified of regret. The whole ‘one life’ philosophy touted by so many motivational speakers makes me strive to do exactly what I want to do, so that I can look back and know that I had the best run I could make of it, sometime in the future. I asked my wife to understand – I need to go do this.
With compassion and respect, my wife not only understood but agreed that this would be required. This challenge, this adventure, would need to be chased to live truly fulfilled. I gained a real, unique understanding of marriage and love in these conversations.
Real marriage is partly in accepting sacrifice and hardship for the betterment of your spouse.
We know that in the months and years ahead, should my application to the Army Primary Reserve as an Army Communications and Information Systems Specialist be accepted, will mean time away from home and a lifestyle adjustment. We accept that as a responsibility and through personal sacrifice, our family will give effort and time back to the social framework that has kept us insulated, safe and content for 30 years.
So far, I’m due to work through a physical test next week involving running, push-ups and dragging sandbags. After that, it’s testing, interviewing and, if I’m so lucky as to be accepted as a recruit – basic training. I look forward to the challenges and adventure this new chapter will surely bring and with a determined heart, I know I’ll be a better man, husband and father for the sake of the time away from home it will bring.
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