An Irish Blessing

“May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” (An Old Irish Blessing)

I joined the US Navy at age 23, which made me one of, in not ‘the’, oldest guy in my boot camp training group. Unlike the US Marine Corps, Navy Boot Camp, due mostly to the hot and morbidly humid Orlando Summers, was more psychological conditioning than physical. Think of it as an exercise in training the young male psyche to think and perform more like a team member than an individual. Even the name “Shipmates” (we were told to call one another) denotes being part of something bigger than self.

Navy boot camp was learning to follow routines and paying attention to detail; like how to fold underwear so it fits in a tiny metal locker drawer. The Company Commanders held frequent inspections to ensure all shipmates were on the same page, and if not in line, rigorous indoor physical conditioning would be met to those out of sync.

You may be asking yourself: “How hard can it be to fold underwear for crying out loud?” You’d be surprised to learn most of the thirty or so shipmates could not do so correctly. To both my relief and a sorrow, for the other guys being grilled with pushups and squat-thrust exercises, there I sat in the TV room (like I said, Navy was not like the USMC) with another five compliant souls who had a perfectly folded underwear drawer.

To be perfectly honest, from my peripheral view of shipmates lined up to the left, right and across of me, I couldn’t see their infraction and was forced to ask myself:

“Why me? Why was I chosen to pass?” Being a naturally analytical person, I was trying to figure out what I did right, so I could do it again; or, God forbid, and just in case the Company Commanders made a mistake, they don’t discover their mistake next time. Was my success real or did I cunningly disguise my flaw? Was it a lie?

Fast forward many decades and I have the same experiential tinge with my digital scale. To be perfectly honest, it took three weeks on my Wonder Slim program before I actually bought a scale. When challenged about my starting weight, I tossed a guess to my coach based on what I was willing to admit. When my toes straddled the red digital display for the first time, and after some notable loss of weight in my face, I was disheartened to see the display read 299. Shit. I had no idea of how far past 300 I had gotten. Guess I was the last to know how far out of shape I had become.

My wife had been gently ‘suggesting’ that I should take better care of myself for over a year. She forgot guys, in general, fail at suggestions and need a more direct, if not harsh, communication of ideas and concepts. It would have been more effective if she had said, “hey, you fat fuck, fix that shit”. But, that is not her demeanor. She is kind and forbearing and waited patiently for ‘it’ to be my idea. There is a special place in heaven for such wives; and if husbands are good and kind to these souls, we get to go there too.

I have been waiting to write this story until after I was sure I had gotten below my lie, as it were, about the weight I declared on my driver’s license, 280. I knew it was a lie when I so stated it, but I didn’t want the person at the DMV, sitting across from me, to know.

This past Thursday I did the dance with my little white digital conscience and when it read 277, I couldn’t help but think, “This shit is real now!” I have been redeemed from a lie I told and have been set free. It feels pretty good, and I wish you the same.

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