Alive at 25…

Damn, can’t believe I actually survived my first quarter century.  If for any reason you ever doubted me, please take a few moments to eat a very large dick, then feel free to continue reading…;-).  Seriously though, if nothing else I’d have to say these past few years have been nothing short of an amazing (mis)adventure of awesome proportions.  To anyone reading this who’s shared a beer, jump, adventure, or some weird awesome conversation of world-saving proportions anytime within the past 25 years, please pour yourself another glass frosty beverage and toast to the pure legitness we will accomplish in the next 25.  I’d down a couple with you, but for some reason they frown upon that here in Afghanland so you’ll have to go it alone this time…don’t worry though, last I checked the world isn’t going to run out of beer anytime soon so we’ll definitely hit it up again in another random part of the world…I’ll even buy the next round…

Looking back, it’s incredibly hard to put 25 years of life into any type of realistic perspective so to save myself the time and the mindfuck I’m not even going to try.  I’ve tried to do my best to take whatever opportunities I’ve been given, completely fuck them up in every way possibly imaginable, and yet somehow achieve something remotely close to half-success in becoming a somewhat-functional human being and member of the global community.  I’ve been to more countries and places than I even care to count anymore, jumped off a lot of awesome things in those places, and tried to learn a thing or two about the world and how it functions in the process.  Along the way, I’ve met some of the coolest and most dynamic people this world has to offer and it has truly been a blessing to know so damn many of you in this life.  Despite the distances and issues of this time, we simply have so many remarkable things to achieve in the next couple decades that I can’t wait for the time we meet again and get to work…as there is certainly a lot left to do…

Still, it is incredibly awesome that I am still breathing at this time and I have truly learned to take every day as a blessing and use it as much as I can to accomplish something of value.  Anyone who talks to my mom for any length of time will probably hear the story of how I almost died like twice in my first year of life (thanks for reminding me of that on my birthday, Mom…can’t wait to push your out of your first airplane back in the States) and from the last couple of years between my choice of sports and professions it doesn’t look like I’ve given up that urge to remain somewhere near the edge between pure existence and mortality.  I’ve seen more than a few pretty decent friends pass on in the last couple of years doing essentially the same activities that I enjoy and have had a few somewhat close brushes with death myself…yet for some reason I’ve been a bit more lucky.  To my brothers and sisters in the sky, fly free and live the next life as fully as you lived this one…we’ll meet again sooner than we’d like but hopefully not too soon as I’ve still got quite a bit of work left to do down here…Regardless though, I’ve lost all my youthful fascination and fear of death in the past few years…It’s coming some time.  I’m damn glad it hasn’t happened yet.  But there is no way in hell I’m giving up living my life to the absolute fullest in order to delay it by any means.  Whether this life is long or short, the last lie you fucks will be able to tell while you’re completely obliterated at my funeral is that I never had a pair or let fear of anything get in my way…life’s too damn short not to go hard and push every artificial limit of human capability or common sense…

As for the next 25 years…there is so much work left to do that I can’t even begin to fully describe it.  Our world poses some very complex and difficult challenges for our generation and it is only by working together toward a renewed sense of collective identity and purpose that we can leave anything of real value for our children and grandchildren when our time on this planet has passed.  Still, we have more than enough talent, resources, and ideas at our disposal to turn our dreams into absolute, indisputable reality…To all the Renaissance men and women out there…thank you for being who you are and never give up on your dreams…

For me, this deployment seems to be as good a time as any to take a few steps back, reflect on where I’ve been, and focus on the challenges ahead.  I knew I was going to be a soldier pretty much my whole life and now that I am living that dream, I am coming to the realization that I am inheriting a very broken and fractured organization after ten years of constant conflict with no clear end or over-arching strategy.  I’ve spent more of my time trying to fix some of the Army’s problems than just about anything else and now that I am moving to a full-on desk job for the rest of this adventure, I will undoubtedly be confronted with even more of them in the coming months.  Still, it appears time, circumstance, and coincidence are working in my favor as coming off of this Afghan job I will be completely ready to take on the next challenges ahead.  I find myself looking forward to that time a lot these days, to having a good amount of money in my bank account with no more credit card debt, finishing my master’s degree, and getting started with the Civil Affairs course and giving the “small army” a try before moving on to bigger adventures.  As we look at a time after our major commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have ample opportunity to rethink our military and our own national capabilities and strategic vision and allow our ideas to finally be heard, expressed, and tried out on the real world…And from what I’ve seen, there are certainly enough smart, open-minded people serving this nation at this time to turn this into something that actually works.  I’ll certainly do my best in the next few years, but have no further career ambitions in this or any military to make any promises about the distant future…Hell, I can’t even promise I’ll still be alive in 5 more years so why try and think that far ahead anyway???  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens…one moment at a time…

Anyway, that’s enough writing and thinking for now.  Thanks for all the fun over these past years and if you can find the time, we’ll certainly share a nice beer or two at some undisclosed location on planet Earth as soon as possible.  Keep dreaming big dreams.  Never let good sense or conventional wisdom get in the way of the realities you hope to create.  Stay productive, question everything, never stop evolving, and for God’s sake don’t ever stop living as hard as you can as long as you can.  We’ll catch up somewhere…



3 OCT 2011, 2100 AST, Orgun-E, Paktika, Afghanistan


About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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