New Directions…

I started this blog over a year ago as I was leaving for my first combat deployment.  It was the product of a bit of advice from a friend, an overactive mind that needed some type of creative outlet, and in some way a desire to seal up a collection of random snapshots of my thoughts in the hope that they might actually amount to something a bit later on.  In the beginning I used it to record some of my personal experiences combined with a small collection of random ideas which fit into whatever frame of mind I was using to make sense of them at the time.  Early on in the deployment however I realized that my experiences and ability to actually “see” the realities on the ground in Afghanistan would be decidedly limited by institutional factors beyond my control, and thus the project quickly morphed into much more of a personal diary of my ideas and research which I was able to conduct extensively (for better or worse) given the reality of having too much time on my hands and not enough recreation outlets with which to use it.  Looking back on a few of my writings I realize that while I was certainly on to something in at least a few of the them, in the end my creativity and ability were limited by my own conflicting realities, my lack of true intellectual freedom, a good bit of personal fear, and more than a little simple mental exhaustion.  Still, they stand as snapshots of my mind in time and I hope that at least a few people other than myself were able to gain at least a picture of what was going on in my head from reading them…

In the two months since I’ve left Afghanistan I’ve had the opportunity to slowly get my life back together, travel around Europe, meet a lot of new friends and reconnect with some old ones, and slowly take the time to process my thoughts and come up with a few new ideas for where and how I need to spend the remaining years of my life.  At this time, I am back in Germany for an indefinite amount of time working a tedious but not very intellectually stimulating job with my unit.  My packet for Civil Affairs has been processed and accepted and I am just in a holding pattern waiting to take the next steps along that road in the (hopefully) near future.  I have completed the final course of my Master’s program and now only have to finish my thesis and take my exams before earning my first official post-graduate degree.  I have also taken on a few intellectual side projects which I am not fully secure enough to discuss in detail here.  Overall however, I have to say that my life is finally starting to take shape and I appreciate the small freedoms associated with living in my own apartment, traveling more or less as I wish, and spending quality time with close friends all over the world…I deeply wish I could say the same positive things about the current state of our civilization…

Over these last few years it appears time, circumstance, and coincidence just have not been good for our world.  Despite our ending of combat operations in Iraq and our drawdown in Afghanistan we are stuck in the narrative of endless global conflict with renewed violence in places like Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the Trans-Sahel, and Central Africa to name only a few.  Our security forces have grown stronger, able to easily crush the random popular revolution or intellectual/social movement while our economies have grown weaker, struggling from the stain of the end of another monetary-economic-debt cycle and are now completely incapable of providing for the basic needs, hopes, and dreams of most of the world’s population.  We are slowly killing our planet and our civilization one poor, selfish, and short-sighted decision at a time.  And as much as I sometimes try to look at the bright side, I too often find hope a distant and fleeting dream in these incredibly tough times…

As for my country, my heart truly bleeds for it every day and the more I think about our current circumstances the more I usually end up drinking away the utter sadness and praying to a God I no longer believe in for brighter days ahead…if not for me, then at least for my children…We are literally ripping ourselves apart at the seams, stuck in the narrative of marshal superiority and arming ourselves to the teeth while drawing the battle lines for both the fight in front of us and the much bigger one a bit farther down the road as we approach the fall of this Empire.  Once the true beacon of freedom and opportunity for the world we have fallen into a nation of simple-minded, drug-induced stupor fed by our television sets and the mainstream, inside-the-corporate-box consumerism they spew out, our vast selection of pharmaceutical drugs and quick-fix chemical solution to all of life’s complex problems, and some kind of egotistical sense of our continued superiority in a world trying to move beyond our outdated hegemonic dreams.  Watching my country in these times is a bit like watching a depressed alcoholic inching closer and closer to the edge searching for solutions at the bottom of ever bottle and finding absolutely none capable of quenching his thirst.  And following our current Presidential elections makes me feel more like I am watching a massive train wreck in slow motion as each conductor  makes false promises of salvation drawing his own almost religiously vigorous followers as the train slips slowly off the tracks and nobody even thinks about applying the brakes.  I can’t tell you how many times this summer I have been personally embarrassed to call myself an American (and an American military officer at that) but in the end, my choice is either to ignore and leave the situation and my country forever or to take ownership of it and work to change it.  Ultimately, I must choose to own it…that is if I ever wish to be able to actually live with myself later down the road of life…

Still, the levels of cognitive dissonance inherent in my mind and in my situation are just incredible.  It is the main reason why I must remind myself not to use too many mind-altering drugs in the presence of friends.  And though I fear I can feel it drawing me closer and closer to my own insanity in the end I must find the strength to master my own mental demons if I hope to ever be able to help my country master its own.  The only thing that seems to keep me going through some of these most tiring and mentally draining of times and the only thing that still gives me the necessary bit of mental clarity I need to continue my work has been BASE jumping.  Sometimes it feels like the only peace I am able to truly find these days comes either at exit points or over a few beers with close friends after a jump and I am deeply thankful for all of my experiences and the amazing, positive, and open-minded people I have been able to share them with.  The people in this sport are some of the closest and truest friends I will ever have and even though too many of us are only on this planet for a short period of time the positive energy and sense of adventure we share can truly give us all hope even in the darkest and most desperate of our days.  To all my friends, I just can’t say thank you enough for the sanity you have given me…Lets just plan to share a couple beers and a few nice exit points as soon as possible.  I’ll take you to mine if you take me to yours 😉

In the end though, there is no moving forward without a sense of hope, and it is that which I will never completely part with until the moment I breathe my last.  We have so much human potential living on this planet right now and if we can only learn to harness it and change our operating system there are no limits to the possibilities we can leave our children.  The great transitions of these decidedly interesting times will surely be trying on our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls.  But if we can find the will and the means within ourselves to understand and overcome them, then we can truly build the world of our dreams.  I cannot say whether or not I will still be on this Earth to watch and help my people through the end of these transitions, but at the very least I will leave a decent road map and a heavy ruck to be taken over by whoever comes next.  Here’s to the new directions for humanity, my friends.  The future is ours to create.



15 AUG 12, 2130 (L), Grafenwoehr, Germany


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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2 Responses to New Directions…

  1. Thank you for your service to our country and for the insight you exude in your posts. I have especially appreciated this one. I too am fearful of the future and I think the only hope we have is hope and lots of it. Politics is not the answer to America’s problems and I have no idea what can save us at this point. I’m a mom, grandmother and great-grandmother and believe me this world is nothing like the “June Cleaver” world I grew up in. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother raised me and they are all gone. I can never put into words what their influence on my life has meant. Two of my three children have moved several counties away and all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren but two are far away. Having lost my faith has put miles between me and my friends. Growing up in the south, faith is almost inbred but mine has been lost in a sea of circumstance.

    Thank you again for your words of encouragement as I see that you too are swimming in a sea of circumstance!

    Peace to you too, Brian Donnelly!

    • Unfortunately, the world never was really that simple. The only difference is that now we actually have to tools to examine a bit of its complexity for better or worse depending on what we find. Politics never was the answer to America’s problems but really it is just nonsensical to even talk about answers when we haven’t figured out what questions to ask. The only way to get to that step is through discussion, discourse, and real humble examination and research. As for fear, it helps remind you of the seriousness of your situation but it should never be allowed to take control over your rational mind. Always keep a little bit of faith but I feel reality tends to reflect preparation and examination more than anything else.

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