Excerpt from Follies of an Awakening Fool: SEAL training

Posted on November 19, 2013


Excerpt from Follies of an Awakening Fool: SEAL training

(Photo Credit: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3204/3019053219_ea2e698503_z.jpg?zz=1)

It felt almost overnight that I transformed from a skinny and angry daddy to the next class of SEAL wannabes. After donning my navy dungarees full time again (following a long break in naval service), I was almost dizzy from now walking through the SEAL compound as fresh meat. That was the proudest day and the saddest day of my life all in one fell swoop. Long had I dreamed of this very day, from the horror stories my old man would tell me when I was little to the videos I would watch of SEAL training for two years in mental preparation.

For the next two weeks I would experience the euphoria of freezing swims due to the year’s harsh el Nino weather, running and shuffling everywhere I went, and late night raids by the instructors. It was the most amazing experience of my life, even better than the heavy demolitions and jumping from moving helicopters into dark waters that I was able to do for a few short months prior to my arrival at BUD/S. And yet I couldn’t quite get a grasp on the other reality, where I was essentially leaving my very young daughter at a time when all she cared about was her mommy and daddy being at home with her during her own formative years in life. The wrenching that left in my gut was something I had not prepared for and was a daily seed that I could not overcome. Almost ten years of service and having a family at home was total chaos on my soul during SEAL training.

Alas, life had other plans for my inner light…and so did my Guides, though I wouldn’t start to recognize that little tidbit until much, much later. Instead, after two weeks of training I broke down into hysterical tears and rang the bell in overwhelming shame and sorrow; a sorrow that I would not come to terms with for several years. I dropped from what I thought was the holy grail in my life, totally destroyed inside. Then the navy in all its wisdom and sense of dark humor sent me, physically strong and mentally broken, and my family to Naples, Italy. Toting a gun and a badge after a six week stop in Texas, the next stop was for a three year stint as a military policeman—where I was about to find that in deep sorrow comes some of the greatest joys ever known…they just take some time to be seen.

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet).”

This passage dedicated to the warriors with whom I served in Naples, Italy during the most formative years of my career. Thanks eternally for the strength of the Phalanx, boys.