Sage Words

When I started Officer Candidate School after 4 hard years of drinking beer and chasing women, I was soft. As in soft and over weight, soft in the belly, and soft in the head.

I was also going into a “kinder, gentler” Navy; one that was recovering from Tailhook, adopting to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and moving women onto fighting ships of the line – Destroyers and Cruisers. As such, the Navy’s training commands had instituted the “Training Time-Out” – any trainee, during any evolution, could bring their participation in the evolution to a halt by calling a TTO.

The first or second week at OCS, I was getting worked pretty hard by one of the Navy Senior Chiefs who were usually the “good cop” to the Marine Corps Drill Instructors. I was soaked, panting, had limbs trembling from exertion, and was pretty much done. So, seeing as how we’d gotten a dozen or so briefs detailing TTO procedures, I called one.

The Senior Chief immediately stopped yelling at me, and ran over to me. “Son, I need you to look deep in your heart right now. If you’re calling a Training Time Out because you really need help, if you are in actual, honest to god pain, then just let me know and we’ll have all the help you need in a heartbeat.

“But damnit, boy, if you go through with a TTO because you’re experiencing some discomfort, even serious discomfort, then God help you, ’cause I’m never going to let you get commissioned.”

It was at that instant that my OCS experience became transformed; that I realized that all the shouting and sweating and exertion was stripping the fat from both my psyche and my body. And at that instant, I felt lower than I’d felt in the twenty-one and a half years I’d lived to that point. I dropped back down into push-up position, and the Senior Chief gave me a little more personal attention until I couldn’t push no more.

Since, I’ve seen much the same point made in a lot of training books – with exertion comes some discomfort, and even serious discomfort might be just a result of serious training.

But pain is another animal entirely. Pain is a sign of something gone seriously wrong, and a reason to call off training and get attention.

I learned a lot about life that day, and more about myself. I did not like the guy who wanted to quit, and worked (and am still working) on keeping him out of my psyche.

Pshew. Back to running:

2 miles on Wednesday. Two easy miles on Wednesday.

And much discomfort as my legs worked out the residual effort from Tuesday’s six miler. But no pain :)

6 thoughts on “Sage Words”

  1. Now THAT’s a story to take to heart. I suspect it’ll be rattling around in my head all day now. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. not a lot of time to write up a long comment, but just had to say what a great post this was. thanks for the reminder and insight.

  3. Now THAT’s what I’m looking to learn more about. I really appreciated this post. Thanks for sharing the insight. (You curmudgeon!) : )

  4. I’ve read this post about three times … and I still am speechless. Can’t find words to say anything poignant so instead I’ll say … Wow. Big, big thanks for sharing that.

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