Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 2:48:08 PM
It’s quiet here, in this college library, where I sit and write without interruptions. Peace, quiet, contentment: these three things I cannot take for granted. I say this because I know all too well the chaos, the stress, and the realness of what goes on outside this sanctuary of tranquil solitude. Beyond this building there is a commotion going on with people trying to get to work, there are wars going on in distant places, and there is strife between men. But here, there is peace, there is quiet, and I feel content.
I am a twenty-four year old freshman college student. I’ve had a late start it seems like, yet in a way, I feel that it was necessary for me to put off academia until now, because now I can appreciate it in a better way. For four and a half years I served in the United States Marine Corps. Within that time I went on two seven-month long deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. Between these deployments I trained, tried to have a personal life, succeeded in getting married, and fortunately I survived to see my wife again and to move on with a new life with her.
There are a lot of things I’m thankful for. I’m grateful to have a lovely wife who supports me and makes my life warm and more meaningful. I’m thankful for real food that is cooked in a real kitchen, running water, a real shower, and a comfortable bed at night. These things I used to take for granted because I grew up living in a country where, for the most part, these things are expected. It is hard to imagine a world without these simple pleasures. For most of us we see a lot of these things as necessities. Yet the places I’ve been to in Iraq and Afghanistan, I didn’t always get these things, and I witnessed other people who didn’t have it as good as we do here. The sad truth of our society is, we don’t realize how good it really is, unless we step away from it into a different world.
Although I’m thankful for these things, there is nothing I am more grateful for than the solitude I feel as I write this. Each morning I have the freedom to wake up and drive to this college. Every morning I get here early, so that I can find a quiet spot in the library where I can challenge and expand my mind in ways other than the ways of war. Here I can sit and read such things as literature or philosophy, and I am able to ponder the ideas of the scholars before me. I am no longer expected to be a warrior. And I am not so sure now what exactly I am called to be from now on, but for now I’ll sit here quietly, soaking up the serenity.