The Impression that I Get

I’m not a coward, I’ve just never been tested

I’d like to think that if I was I would pass

Of all the pop songs in my life, The Impression That I Get by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones has been living in my brain rent-free for the longest.  Not only is the song a one-hit wonder, but the ska genre was basically a one-hit wonder.  If you don’t own a kilt, you likely can’t name 3 ska songs.  Feel free to prove me wrong in the comments.  

But this song speaks to me and I relate to the lyrics.  Have you ever had the odds stacked up so high you need a strength most don’t possess? No, well. 

What does this have to do with the CDT?

I chose the CDT because it’s difficult and because people said to not do it as your first thru-hike.  I wanted to see if I actually had it in me. I’d like to think that if I was I would pass  But I write all this knowing that if I complete the trail, I’ll ask myself if that was actually as difficult as it was made out to be.  Hundreds of people complete it every year, much older and less privileged than me.  So I’ll diminish my accomplishments under the guise of humility, but really with self-doubt.  

I think this is common among post 9-11 Veterans.  I have no data to support my claim, but I’ve heard that suicide rates among Veterans are just as high for those with combat tours vs those without.  That feeling of ‘it should have been me’ or for me, ‘did I actually do enough’ is a real feeling.  I’m sure it can lead to depression or anxiety which can lead to all sorts of negative coping and more bad crap after that.  

I’m just a lowly Air Force logistician.  When I joined the Air Force in 1996, the idea that being near or in combat was out of the question.  The Air Force wasn’t doing anything like that.  Fast forward to 2002 and the Air Force was sending transporters into convoy operations that had historically been done by the Army.  My peers were getting shot at, avoiding IEDs and in general, doing combat operations.  In my mind, all my peers were doing that, but in reality, it was likely 10-20%. Yes, there were a ton of deployments, but many were still Air Force deployments to Qatar, UAE, and Korea, where there was no danger of combat.  But my mind wasn’t focused on those. 

I never dodged a deployment, I underreported medical concerns to maintain my deployment status and even turned down career opportunities to keep a deployment. While I wasn’t in combat.  I prepared for it, learned how to avoid being captured, trained on MRAPs, qualified on calling in 9 lines and artillery, and shot 50-caliber rifles.  But “I’ve never had to knock on wood.”  

Is this a terrible reason to hike the CDT?

Sure.  Anything that’s ego-driven tends to be a bad idea.  But it’s not the sole reason.  Some of the other reasons I’m drawn to and excited about the CDT are the chance to have countless hours of alone time, to see a part of the country I’ve not explored, to push myself physically in a way I’ve never approached, and to take some time off to reset from one phase of my life to the next.  

My outcome on the CDT is not yet determined.  How it turns out or how it makes me feel is entirely up to me.  I know this adventure isn’t a cure.  At least that’s the impression that I get.  

I am days away from starting the trail.  So no more dog pictures.

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