This article was originally published on Point of Decision on August 11, 2016. Thank you to Point of Decision for continuing to publish my work! Note: The first part of this article may be viewed here. The second part of this article may be viewed here. The third part of this article may be viewed here. The fourth part of this article may be viewed here.
“Mr. Walter you have the worst nose I have ever seen.” Once the Doctor said this, I didn’t know whether I should be scared or proud to be number one. “I want to break your nose and rebuild it. And it would be a good idea to stop boxing.” I grudgingly followed the Doctor’s advice as what was once a hobby had now begun affecting the quality of my life outside of the ring.
After my child was born, I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to leave operations, and I took it. Being on a deployment roster was replaced with a nice job with predictable hours whereby I ran paper all over the place within a large bureaucratic machine. It wasn’t glorious and there would never be a movie series called “Adventures of the Staff Officer” but it was steady. However, something was missing.
I was 32 years old and had been available for deployment in one status or another since age 18. I now had to learn a new way. However, the road that I needed to travel would not be easy. Deployment is a challenge. Challenge makes you stronger. What was going to challenge me now?
I first challenged other people in the boxing ring. This produced several broken noses that I never knew about due to nerve damage likely sustained during childhood. After boxing, I challenged gravity in powerlifting. This produced a swollen long-head bicep tendon that still occasionally bothers me and piriformis syndrome. After powerlifting, it was back to challenging other people but this time in no-gi grappling. My power-lifting injured shoulder didn’t last long here. What was this need? Where did it come from? Was I closer to being a cave man that needed a hunt (i.e. a challenge) than I was willing to admit?
I eventually realized my condition wasn’t that complicated. As a young person with no attachments, I sought a challenge. I found it while deploying. Now that I had a family I needed to find a challenge elsewhere, preferably one that didn’t negatively affect my life. These days it’s reading, writing, running, kettlebells, and pull-ups. It isn’t fancy, 20-year-old me would probably chide 38-year-old me because of it, but it works.
We went to a far away place, we did what we must, and it stayed with us. If you are searching for that challenge, missing that struggle, trust me when I say that you can satisfy this need in constructive ways. Talk to your friends, sign up for a race, volunteer your time for a cause, or try to learn something that you don’t already know. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last, these energies can be channeled for good.
“The real problem was being able to stick it out, to sit in an office under the orders of a wee man in a dark gray suit and look out of the window and recall the bush country, the waving palms, the smell of sweat and cordite, the grunts of the men hauling jeeps over the river crossings, the copper-tasting fears just before the attack, and the wild, cruel joy of being alive afterward. To remember, and then go back to the ledgers and the commuter train, that was impossible. He knew he would eat his heart out if it ever came to that.” -“The Dogs of War” by Frederick Forsyth