Sunday, November 21, 2010

Optimist Optimized

Before I deployed for six months to Iraq I thought that I would write about the many lessons learned throughout my time there. If you read my last post you know why that didn't happen. I thought that upon my return I would write about some of the lessons learned during my deployment once I had some time to reflect on all that I had experienced. That really hasn't happened either so far. So I find it a bit ironic that after a week back in the states adjusting to my old (but seemingly new) life that my first inkling to write again is not on the topic of what I learned in the desert of the middle east but what I have learned about my life stateside.

I have always been an optimist. Not a blind idealist by any means, but definitely someone who seeks to find the best in most situations. However after being purged of all but a few remnants of my stateside life for last six months, I now find my optimism optimized.

Like balance in anything else sometimes it takes the tough times to appreciate the good times. Although I never want to deploy and be away from the life I have built again, I am grateful for the experience because it has given me the ability to truly see how blessed my life really is.

The first few days I was back in Boston with my wife I could not stop gazing outside at the colors that were almost blinding after six months of different shades of brown. The sight of people living, working, and playing together in the neighborhood was suddenly a beautiful glance into what we have in this country and what our freedoms are all about. Holding my wife on a nice comfortable couch enjoying some good tea and even better conversation was the most fulfilling and enjoyable experience in the world.

I feel that with my small contribution overseas I have been given the gift that many great men and women veterans before me have been given; the gift of perspective. I can see now why most veterans are passionate people that enjoy life and love their country. They have seen what other areas of the world are missing. They have tasted the bitterness of sacrifice, many of them much more so than I ever did. They have felt the deep longing for loved ones and for a simple life back home. Most importantly, veterans have experienced the overwhelming feeling of a return home to a familiar life with a completely unfamiliar but glorious clarity of just how great the gift of life truly is.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Goodbye Baghdad!

I am sitting watching a beautiful desert sunset at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. As I logged into my blog I realized that it has been over a month since my last post. With all the things that were going on during my deployment, all the commitments, all the people to stay in touch with, and my own personal mental sanity something had to be sacrificed and unfortunately that something was my writing. After I take a few weeks to relax and fully enjoy time with my wife I plan on getting back into a more regularly scheduled writing regimen similar to the frequency pre-deployment. What will likely be different are the topics I write about and my views of the world. I have been through so much in such a relatively short period of time and these past six months have certainly changed me and helped me grow.

As I look back now that I am out of Iraq I think that subconsciously I may have avoided sitting down and writing. I think I avoided writing because I was acutely aware that the multitude of experiences within my deployment were just too much to fully process. I am sure that over time I will have a better understanding of the magnitude of the reality I was living and how that reality was shaping me as a person.

I went through some tough times during my deployment but I also went through some great ones. The experiences I gained from my time in the desert are undoubtedly priceless experiences. I feel more confident in myself and what I can achieve moving forward. I cannot wait to taste my old life again and appreciate just how great it is, and I cannot wait to make it even better. Although I would never willingly seek out another six months away from my family and friends again, I wouldn't trade what I have experienced either.

Some of what I have taken away will undoubtedly be shared as it will not only benefit those who have not experienced what I have but it will help me understand and grow from my deployment. Some experiences will be shared with friends, some will be saved for my family, and some will remained locked within as the moments and emotions cannot be successfully transfigured into words.

I thank you all for standing behind me as I made this journey and I look forward to rejoining you and living the good life back in the best country in the world. Goodbye Baghdad!