Tear Down That Wall!

vintage, boot camp vertical wall

Having identified most of my adult life as a mother, a role I happily and completely immersed myself in, I find it extremely challenging to now focus on me the individual, former girl with independent dreams, to discover a new purpose, new interests, a satisfying job/career. Everything needs to be revamped.

What I need is direction—and a healthy dose of confidence. Because I'm an expert at second guessing and talking myself out of stuff. The self-defeating cycle can get exhausting.

This reminds me of my time in boot camp. A green girl of 18, I was so freakin' naive I didn't know whether I was coming or going. Frankly, in boot camp, it didn't really matter. You just WENT, in double time.

When it came time to tackle the obstacle course close to the end of my 6-week training, I didn't feel any more prepared physically than my first days on the exercise pad. We (me and the other young ladies in my squadron) had heard how difficult the course was. We scared ourselves over the particular obstacles we'd face, hoping that we'd make it through, if not with flying colors, at least well enough to not be held back another few weeks for extra training. It was all we could talk about for weeks.

I'm telling you, the growing trepidation was very real.

In any case, on that clear, cold, late winter Texas morning, right before we were set loose to demonstrate the level of grit we had, we learned that some of the obstacles were closed.

The gods above saw my sorry ass, shook their heads, and had pity. I, nonetheless, nearly wept with gratitude. Fewer obstacles, the higher the rate of success, right? Okay, okay, I can do this!

While I can't say my memories of that exercise replays with the clarity of an IMAX movie, certain moments do stand out. Like balancing on ropes over a water obstacle. Crawling like a spider under and over suspended nets. Slithering on my belly under wickedly sharp barbed wire.

Yet the one that slayed me was the vertical wall. No matter how hard I tried, I absolutely could not get over that wall. It felt 20 feet high, and I simply did not have the strength to pull myself up the rope to the top.

I watched my fellow airmen-in-the-making sprout wings and disappear to the next challenge. The crowd behind me thinned out. An unfamiliar training instructor screamed from the top at the few left who were struggling at the base. Just as I began to think I was done for, that I'd have to repeat this god-awful course, the TI pulled me up and over, blistering remarks included.

The gods were truly benevolent that day.

Just as I'm sure it was all caught on video and the TIs had a roaring good laugh together on movie night.

Here I am again facing another wall. I've scaled many during my life, but this is the first time I see a connection to that long-ago experience. It feels just as insurmountable as that one I faced in basic, but like then, I have support around me, and the understanding that if I keep approaching it (the wall) the same way expecting a different end result, I'll remain stuck at the bottom for sure.

Time for me to really work my creative cap.


  1. Girl, you crack me up. Never in a million years would I have thought that you wrestle with defining your next mission in life. You're organized, eager-to-learn, and definitely have a keen eye for research. With that said keep your shovel handy and keep digging. To the good life!

    1. How wonderful to know that I at least look like I know where I'm heading! Perhaps I should put down my trowel and pick up an actual full-sized shovel, right?


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