This post is a little late because I have had a lot going on these last few weeks. But then, as this post will make clear, that’s a pattern that needs to be broken.
Those who know me will remember that I was once an officer in the Royal Australian Navy and was very proud to have served from 1994 through to mid 2001. I was what is now termed a Junior Warfare Officer but back then was the far more prosaic “Officer of the Watch”. There were many, many highlights which I will go into another time, and many great friends made, some of which I am still in contact with today and some who I lost contact with over time. This is pretty common within the Navy but equally it’s an organisation where you can bump into someone and just continue on with your friendship as if it was only a few weeks ago that you parted.
My wife and I were out for brunch at a cafe two weekends ago when I saw one of my old navy friends who I had not seen since we were in Pearl Harbor together in 1996. I could not believe it but he looked exactly the same. Still handsome and fit, damn him!! After a quick catch up, we both continued on with our breakfasts before my wife and I left, with the intention of catching up on his ship later that night for a Hawaiian Shirt theme party. (Sidenote: Having an Aloha Shirt in your wardrobe is almost compulsory for a Naval Officer. Fortunately, I happen to have four or five so was well covered for the evening. )
It turns out that other guys who I had lost contact with over time were also at this party and I felt like a right arsehole for losing touch with such great guys. Not deliberately, mind you. When you leave an organisation like the Navy, you need to quickly build a new life elsewhere and give 100% to your new career to catch up to your peers. I have managed to become a money market trader in one of Australia’s largest banks but my long lost friend has done even more. After returning to the military academy to get his degree, he decided to test himself to the fullest and became a Navy Clearance Diving Officer – seriously hard core. He then volunteers to go the Afghanistan to defuse bombs before returning home to seek new challenges like captaining an amphibious ship as well as other things. I am mightily impressed and glad that I can call him my friend.
The second part of the title of today’s post talks about finding yourself. I guess talking to my friend about his adventures since we last saw each other reminded me of the good times I had in the Navy and that I used to be a lot more than just a corporate drone, moving money here and there. It reminded me that life can pull you in different directions and that adventure can lie just over the next hill or around the next headland. But whatever way the wind blows you, it’s important to remember the things that brought you to where you are now – the people you met and respected along the way, the beliefs and values that were instilled in your way back when and that still guide you now, and most importantly, to hold on to those two things no matter where your course lies.
Thank you Chris for reminding me of that.