Let’s take it back today. I had a heavy week, starting on Wednesday , where I caught myself in a limbo of sorts. Every week thus far had been exciting, and every day had been filled with some level of fun and success. Yet, something was starting to feel absent. That’s probably why the dreams started : two dreams that I remembered not just vividly but emotionally. Here they are:
Dream 1 – The Loss of Vision
In this dream, I was seated at a table in a bar. It seemed like I was in one of the bars I had been in, in Wudaoku, Beijing . The lights were loud, and there was music that rang back to the 80s. There were people seated next to me and I was engaged in some form of casual communication.
Then all of a sudden, everything became blurry. What was once a clear sight was now pixelated and definitely evident of my myopia. What just happened, I asked myself. I was panicking – was I going blind?
Hold on, was I wearing contacts? I felt over my eyes and noticed the lack of spectacles. My contacts must have fallen out, I assumed. I conducted my regular vision check, covering one eye and confirming that I could see clearly. My left eye had lost its contact, I determined. I felt around the table I was at, to see if the contact had fallen.
I found it almost immediately, hardened as if it had dried up after being left out for a long period. Had my contact been missing for that long and I hadn’t noticed? What was going on, I asked myself, and immediately woke up.
Dream 2 – The Memory of Courage
Courage is a difficult word to claim. Even the declaration of someone being courageous has to be supported by consistent proof of his courage – a one time act does not validate a sustaining label. I cannot claim courage as a trait as often as I’d like to. I try my best and have had my fair share of courageous moments, but there are a sizeable number of times I wish I had stepped up to the plate and done what I could have.
This dream brought me back to the advanced training area in Tekong ’12 . I was in Basic Specialist training and it was our field-camp. We were being evaluated on a training package, and were at the last leg. We were exhausted, having been in the field for almost 4 hours on consistent battles and hammered with scenarios one after another.
‘The end is around the corner, gentlemen’ the section instructor told us.
We were keeping to pace, ensuring our movement was according to drill. All of a sudden out of nowhere, the sergeant shouted ‘ Arty, Arty’ indicating an Artillery Strike. We quickly dropped to prone position and echoed the words.
‘Goddamnit’ I remember thinking, ‘We were so close.’
‘Arty over’ he shouted, indicating the start of the sprint back to the safe zone. I was carrying section equipment, weighing a considerable weight. That on top of my load-bearing vest and rifle made the sprint one of the more difficult combat tasks of the day. On my sprint forward, I noticed one of my section mates on the floor not moving.
‘What happened?’ I asked him as multiple section mates ran past me and him.
‘I’ve been declared as injured’ he responded.
‘Fuck’ I remember thinking. I didn’t want to have to take on another load, I thought for half a second. But within the snap second, I remembered that if this was war, I couldn’t leave my brother in arms behind. I remembered he could very well be someone else’s sibling or son, and I could not wish the consequence of his ‘death’ on anyone.
‘Carry this!’ I shouted to another section mate who was running behind me, as I tossed him the bag with the section equipment. He got the cue and grabbed it from me.
‘Hold on’ I said, as I grabbed my section mate, and in one motion, threw him on my shoulders as part of the fireman lift and continued sprinting.
‘Are you okay?’ he asked me as I sprinted with him now loaded onto me.
I didn’t respond, focusing all my attention and energy on making the last 80m of the sprint. I was panting, breathing heavily and feeling my shoulders ache.
Almost there, I reminded myself.
I finally reached the safe zone, heaving myself into it. I put my section mate down and collapsed on the floor.
‘Good Job guys, you’re done with the package’ the Instructor commended us.
I continued to breathe heavily, as I reminded myself in that moment about the essential truth of struggle – the existence of peace and the continuation of a normal day requires more sacrifice than realized.
There was probably some psychological undertone to all of this. I had sent my laptop to repair and was absent of the usual distractions. I was at the gym a lot more and had more time to think to myself. I was somber pretty much most of the week, reluctant to engage in the regular frivolities. I committed to making every choice purposeful from Wednesday night, and saw some change in perspective.
I’m not sure where I’m at right now. I’m still confused at where I am, and where I’m meant to be heading. Having so much settled in your future, in a lot of ways unsettles you.
This is a new challenge I must face then.