I had another one of those dreams last night.
I was once again brought before a pivotal moment, one that I had made years ago. Yet in this dream, I stood before this choice again. As the Colonel looked me in the eye from behind his desk, in a room surrounded by Marine sergeants and officers, he asked me to reconsider. I had a chance to go forward and complete my training, give my four years to the country, and then go forward with my life, having accomplished a chapter of my life in good will towards my nation and my character. A feat that I had yearned for, feared for, cursed myself for. On that fateful day I had said no. I left the opportunity behind, because I had such a life to consider. I justified it, by telling myself that it would be difficult to find a good relationship with a girl when I was moving around in the military all the time. I told myself that I didn’t want to be around grunts, and that I was confused by the clash between staff NCO’s and Officer ranks. I said that four years was too long a time to give to a nation without a just war to fight, and that I had no call to arms, like my predecessors had. But the truth was that I was weak. I had nothing to offer, and I knew that. Should we go to battle, I would be a fraud, that I was not good enough to lead Marines to their death and glory. I gave the Colonel my honest answer. He replied with a rumbling voice, “Well don’t you worry about what you can offer. We can train you for that. Will you let us train you to lead Marines?” I respectfully declined. In those few weeks, I encountered fear that I succumbed to. I met with my weakness that I could not overcome. I have a deep seated fear of failure, one that I could not overcome. One that I set out every day to fight, and in trembling self defeat, I hung up my sword, hoping that I never face battle, that I would never discover failure.
So in my dreams last night, I said to the Colonel a resounding yes. I went back into the throes of military training. I became accomplished. And the guilt of my self defeat was lifted from my shoulders.
This was not the first time I’ve had this dream. And I doubt it will be the last. I carry a fear that I hate, a fear that is crippling and self defeating. I could say that I inherited this fear from someone else. But it is useless to even pay mention to this accusation, for in the end, this poison is in me, regardless of the source. This poison is in my blood, and it seizes my heart, strangling my breath.
Last night, in my dream, I said yes. I accepted the call to arms, not to a war, but to life. I accepted the challenges of life, to embark on a journey that would liberate my soul. I said Yes.
For many months, years perhaps, I’ve been wondering what my dreams are. I hear of people around me building their “dream career” and transforming their lives into a passionate pursuit of something they love, in which they carve out their place in this world. I’ve miserably answered the question each time with a resounding thought, “I have no dreams.” Even at night, my imagination is not consistent enough to paint a portrait of a life worth living. But last night, I dreamed of saying ‘Yes’. The pain, struggles, and suffering that followed were no measure against the guilt that was lifted from my shoulders. I began to live in my dream last night.
Before I left training, a First Sergeant spoke to me, and tried to dissuade me from leaving training. He told me not to leave, a warning that I brushed off as mere propaganda. He looked me dead in the eye and with the gravity of the Sun, he told me that I would regret this decision, and that it will haunt me as the failed dream that it will become, the aborted child of weakness and ambition. I told myself he was paid to say that. My cynicism ran deep, and it is now bleeding me dry.
Now I am paralyzed by fear. Fear that each decision is the wrong one. Fear that I will not accomplish what I set out to do. Fear that my failures will amount to rejection, and that I will never have a place in this world. The fear of failure.
Yesterday, my pet Ball Python struck and bit me for the first time ever. I had forgotten to feed him for several weeks, and as I lowered a mouse into the cage, the snake lashed at my thumb instead. I cursed, and in wrath, wanted to strike him in retribution. He had never bitten me before, and he had no reason to do so. He had always hidden from me, rescinding from my touch, though I fed him, and stroked his scales with my fingers. I too have never had reason to fear him, for he has never harmed me. He had no reason to fear me, and I had no reason to fear him. But in that moment of wrath and fury, I was reminded that he was a serpent, and I was a human. There is a natural discord in this universe, an innate fear placed in our hearts by our creators. A reminder of what is, and will always be.
The fingerprint of our creators, left in our soul, is fear. Fear wrought by wrath and retribution. Fear of wrath, from beings greater than us, or from ourselves. Know this, and become your own God. Know this, and crush fear under the heel of your foot. The debilitating poisons that course through your blood shall become wine for your lips, should you master your own wrath and retribution.