Monday, March 23, 2009

36 years ago today...

I enlisted. I was 17, 2 months short of graduating high school and knew that there was no way I was staying home another minute.

Having been told by my Dad that I couldn't accept the full paid music scholarship to a university 180 miles from home because it was too far for me to be from home at 17, the Navy recruiter that had been picking me up to go play "Taps" at the Navy funerals for 2 years had a pretty easy time of it. Originally I had planned to enlist for 4 years and go to the Navy's music school, but at 17 I had to have my parent's permission for that as well and Dad wouldn't sign for a 4 year hitch.

So I ended up signing up for 2 years active duty and 4 years as a Reserve, intending on re-enlisting at the end of 2 and trying to get in the music school then. Christmas of that year found me in the Phillipines.

Things changed of course! The freedom to "be" I found led me through a lot of changes, a lot for the better, a lot that weren't as well. None I regret, even those that probably cost a few brain cells.

Though "the path not taken" always beckons, I can't look at my sons or my grandchildren and have regrets about the one I chose!

May Monday be kind and the week as well!



Sassy said...

Well said!

Anji said...

And on January 23rd of the same year I was just starting my career in a bank. It was supposed to be a stopgap until I found something more interesting...

It doesn't feel that long ago to me.

Riot Kitty said...

Interesting story - do you ever read Joseph Campbell? His theory is that when you look back on your life, you'll see a path/pattern of things.

zilla said...

Thank you for your service. I mean that. I'm sad there wasn't parental support for your music. Do you still play at all?

Stephanie said...

37 yrs ago this day, I was on my way back home after being discharged from the Army after only 9 months served. I had told them 3 months earlier about my desire to become a woman, not a good thing to do in '72. They seemed to think that girls couldn't sell doughnuts to trainees in the morning and grease rocket rails in the afternoon! I'm sure they found a big strong man to take over that job!

robin andrea said...

Do you still play, alan? Now I know why you know so much about music.

ryssee said...

It's so true that what we decide or what's told to us along the way makes us who we are today.
That said, what would have happened if your dad said yes to the scholarship? You would have followed your passion for music and had an entirely different path, but wouldn't have met THIS Dottie and had THIS family that you love so much.
I often wish I could have gone for the non-traditional; being a rolling stone and illegally working my way around the world, if I weren't so afraid of having no safety net when I got old. But it's also cool that I get a little of the security and the crazy person in the same life too.
Ah life. We make it but it also makes us!
(And thank you for your service. You probably don't know that my sweet one also served!)

JLee said...

It's good to look back at your life and your decisions, good and bad and reflect. That is very cool you got to incorporate music with your service :)

Green tea said...

It is so strange where the path leads us isn't it Alan?

My Hubba was also in the Navy on a Destroyer in the early 50's.
His dad was a postal worker and came home one day and told him his draft notice was at the post office.
He and a friend jumped in a car and drove to Mpls. and enlisted.

I was still in school and our paths didn't cross for about 8 years. *grin*

Samantha said...

Didn't much matter what it was I wanted to do, my father spent every minute of his time beating "one stupid notion" or another out of my head. Nothing I could ever do was right. Once I was free of his clutches (and a bit before that) I spent time doing all the different things I'd expressed an interest in. Art and Photography had been my passion, I started a small town studio of my own before I got out of high school. And was making nie money doing it too. He found out about that and threw me out of the house.

Since then I've systematically done everything he said I couldn't make a living at, let alone enjoy. This way I can look back and say, HA! Fixed his little red wagon! To be sure, I learned so much, and made plenty of money doing it.

Riot Kitty mentioned Campbell. She's right6, it's all about the hero's journey. The slaying of our own dragons so to speak. I've spent so much time slaying dragons (and I still am) in my life that I'm tempted at times to change my name to Inara.

To be honest, I think your Dad was a bit off. Full scholarship to college for Music. Damn, those don't just grow on trees. But no use cryin' over water under the thing right?

Just glad you're here Alan, whatever the path that may have brought you to us eh?

mrsmadrigal said...

I often look back and wonder just what might have been...but, like you, I'm so happy with the place I'm at right now and looking forward to giving my grandchildren confidence, encouragement and hope. And, of course, love.

Debbie K said...

Dear Alan
Your family should be so proud of you. My path has been made so much brighter & enriched for knowing you.
Bless you & your dear family

Sigh said...


The paths we choose aren't always easy or necessarily right but they lead us to everything we know and have now. Thanks for sharing yet another beautiful story that explains yet again how you became the man you are now! I haven't blogged for awhile... I've assumed a new blogname, new blog address and hopefully some new adventures... but psst, its just me Nerdie.

jl said...

i too have looked back...and wondered...about so many path choices. and i've also come to think that the little choices we make everyday along the way have as much impact on where we are at any given point...
i'm also learning to see this as all a's about the moments sometimes, rather than where we "end up". the important stuff is about the conections, the learning, the love....of which yo have in abundance.... :)

von Krankipantzen said...

It is a very good thing to be content where you are at the moment. You can look back all you want but the future is where it is at!

Ange said...

Well said.
And I also want to thank you for your service.

I was contemplating a career in marine biology until the reality of out of state tuition changed my mind.
I'm glad it worked out the way it did, but every once in awhile, when I catch a show about ocean exploration, I wonder if I missed my calling, or dodged the bullet of becoming shark food.

I had no idea you were a musician!
Doesn't surprise me. :)