Memory is a perplexing thing; it’s beloved, it’s life changing, it’s sweet, and it’s deceptive all at once. For all the time we spend recounting our experiences and looking back at days-gone-by, it’s vital to note that oftentimes our memories are as much the synthesis of the outside world with our own dreams, fantasies, and illusions as they are accurate depictions of the past. And this is precisely what makes them so important. Our memories are not just a reflection of what has happened to us to make us who we are; they are the very manifestation of who we are, showing, through our own interpretations of and selections of our memorable moments, how we view and define our world. I remember the things that I remember how I remember them because of who I am, and the way those events have changed me. They show how my existence is very much different than yours – perhaps we don’t even exist in the same reality, when it comes down to it. So, I say again, memory is a perplexing thing.
I’m nearing the end of my 2/c spring semester; a few more months, and I’ll have been at the Academy for a full three years. So what, then, has my experience been here so far? What are the memories that my mind has chosen to form, and how has it created them? What is my Academy reality? Accurate or not, in the absolute sense, I’ve considered my “Final Four:” the top four memorable moments without which my Academy experience would be a very different story.
Memory 1: The Challenge
When I arrived on R-Day, physically, I was not cut out for Swab Summer. About 15 lbs too skinny, with a moderate background running and swimming being about the extent of my athletics skills, I spent most of my summer feeling like “the weak link in the chain.” In many ways it was good for me; I was used to being independent, strong academically, taking care of myself and rarely having to go to others for any sort of assistance. My lack of brute strength taught me humility, and it taught me to trust my shipmates to pick me up off the ground when I needed it, and trust them not to begrudge me for having to do so. But, in other ways, my deficiency took a toll on me mentally. Even as my strength improved, I hated feeling like a failure, feeling like I still hadn’t earned the respect and admiration of my shipmates. I wanted to prove myself if the area where I knew I was weakest.
I got my chance. One blissful night toward the end of the summer the cadre were clearly getting bored with the typical IT session, so they decided to mix things up. Our company was broken into five teams, and in turn a representative from each team would challenge the others to an exercise; whichever team’s representative won the round scored a point for their team. Part of me was dreading my turn; how could I stand it if I picked the exercise challenge, and then failed? But, there was one thing I knew I could do…I could hold a plank forever. If only that exercise didn’t get taken by another team before I got up…
What is Memory? (Continued)
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