Happy Thursday! Today is hubby’s last day at work for a while as he gets back to pursuing a lifelong dream of earning that elusive Master’s Degree. He sent me this note on Monday and I spilled a bunch of pretty pleases his way to let me share it. Please welcome my real life hero, the Fabulous Mr. Flores.
Today is my last Monday of working for the federal government. Thinking about that makes my stomach hurt, makes me nauseous and queasy. However, it also brings a smile to my face. For months, I have struggled to get up in the morning and go to work. In all of my adult life, I have never gotten up and gone to work. My Army career, through all the trials and tribulations, I never once got up in the morning and said, “All right, I am off to work.” I always just got up and did what the Army asked me to do. Being a Soldier was not work, it was my life. It was part of me. I was the Army and the Army was me. It was exhiliarating.
Even near the end, as I got older and tired easily, I loved it. I did however retire when it was time to retire. I never became that fat, old, disgruntled Master Sergeant. Do not get me wrong, I did get fat and old, but I was not disgruntled. I retired when it was time to retire, at the right time, as some might say.
Since retiring, I have worked at perhaps one of the best places to work in Northern Virginia; it is a government position, but not your typical type of government job. I work in a place that utilizes innovative technology to inform government decision makers and warfighters alike, what is occurring around the world. I work at a place that allows me to work a flexible schedule, thus balancing my work life with my family life. I work at a place that most would be envious of.
However, sadly, it is “work”. It is not my passion. It does not excite me.
One morning, I was in Al-Samawah, Iraq, and I had slept through the night for the first time in weeks. It was an odd experience. I could not figure out why I was uneasy after a full night’s restful sleep. Then it dawned on me, it was the first night in weeks that I had not heard gunfire. After pondering this, I felt at ease. I felt a sense of accomplishment, a sense of satisfaction. In those few moments, as I laid on the ground in my pup tent, I realized I had lived a lifetime’s worth of experiences. I realized that I could close the book on this part of my life, and be satisfied with all I had experienced and accomplished–growing up in a low income, single parent home, in perhaps not the best neighborhoods, joining the Army when it was highly discouraged, succeeding in my chosen profession despite the fact that I had way too many young indiscretions, marrying the most wonderful woman in the world and helping her raise the most awesome child. I had accomplished a lot and I was completely satisfied in those few moments that I laid in the desert. Then I got up, walked out of the tent, lit a cigarette and started writing the next chapter in my life.
I spent the last several years of my Army career chasing the Iraq Invasion exhilaration. Those who have been “In The Zone,” being the best that they can be for a prolonged period of time, will definitely understand the chase I was on. I cannot say I ever found it again, but it was exciting trying. I helped shape the future Army and became a more mature, responsible man. A man that perhaps my wife’s father, a man I should have called dad, would be proud of.
So today, as I realize that in a few days, I will be unemployed, I have that feeling again, that feeling that I had in Al-Samawah. I am at ease and at peace, I can now truly close the book on my Army career and begin writing the third chapter of my life.
I do not know what is going to happen next. The plan right now is to become a full time student and pursue a master’s degree in high school counseling. I feel my passion lies in giving back and helping the youth. How I will pay the bills and support the family is not very clear right now. I will use the Post 9/11 GI Bill for the most part. Perhaps I will get a part time job that will not interfere with school. Maybe I will knock door to door, asking my friends and family if they are in need of any help around the house or yard or even in their home office filing, sorting or typing. I might even just ask for donations, using those fancy crowd-funding websites that help raise money. I do not know and to be honest, it does not really matter right now.
I have a solid base of friends and family. I have great partners in my wife and son. I have my faith, my work ethic, my perseverance and my tenacity. That is all I truly need.
All I know right now is that on the last day of “work”, I will walk out of the big fancy building I work in, light a cigarette, and begin writing the next chapter of my life.
Thank you for letting me share this, hun.