01 June 2010

Going where I want

(I've signed up for NaBloPoMo this month--both blogs. God knows why because I certainly don't. Anyway, the theme is NOW, new with writing prompts. I need prompts right now, so stuck in my head am I. Of course, I'm listening to a very significant prompt right now...wheeee!)

I grew up during the Cold War, and I lived across the street from a bomb shelter. Every Saturday afternoon, the air raid sirens would go off at 1 pm precisely to remind us of our mortality. I am young enough that Duck and Cover was a thing of the past by the time I came along. Because of the Air Force base located there, our town was rumored to be high on "The List," and everyone knew that the town would be a two-mile deep crater if it came down to it. Duck and Cover was a bit moot in the face of that.

Our world was painted in broad strokes of certainty without shades of grey. The Soviets were our enemy. The world was divided by an iron curtain. The splitting of an atom would invariably lead to the splitting of the Earth along its axis. Still, children are remarkably resilient. The gigantic military helicopters that flew low over our house and the occasional U-2 or SR-71 high overhead became part of our games outdoors, as did the air raid siren, certainty in the service of make believe.

When I got to high school, the main building of which housed the bomb shelter nearest my home, the school newspaper did an expose on that bunker. And the fact that no one bothered to maintain the place. The fact that most of the supplies were nearly 20 years old. I remember my history teacher laughed when the edition was published.

"We'll be a two-mile deep crater!" he chortled, sounding dreadfully like the Santa in A Christmas Story telling Ralphie he would shoot his eye out.

How does one build a future on a foundation that predicates the lack of one?

My brother and I planned to save the world. And in a world of certainties and dichotomies, we just as surely chose two different paths: his, the military, mine, diplomacy. My parents suggested it, of course. My mother wanted me to go into international law; my father thought I should be a foreign service officer. The idea appealed to my love of languages and travel.

My brother stuck closely to his decision, graduating from USNA and going off to fly fighter bombers. I watched the failure of the peacemaking process over and over. I listened to the talk of presidents and diplomats and my professors. I knew I didn't want to be part of all that talk, all that lack of action. I saw there was no way that I'd be able to succeed in that arena in the way that I wanted to succeed.

So I went where I wanted, possibly not where I should have.

I don't regret, precisely, the choice. I suppose I might have been a mover and a shaker, though I find that unlikely. I go where I want, rather than where others say I should. The impact I have today is quieter than it might have been, and while I'm not a mover, I cause certain people to shake in their shoes. I've chosen to try to lead by example at the least, instead of talking about it. I try to live by design rather than by a protocol created by salesmen. Now I know I can't save the world. But I can save one person at a time. And each of them can save one person.

I still think big.

Go listen to some good music: "Caravan" by Rush. By weird coincidence, I read the writing prompt for today (What did you want to be when you grew up?) as I listened to this song for the first time. And it was instantaneous. The end result is a little more awkward than I'd like, unfortunately.


Deb said...

And all along I have been thinking that BU2B was your inspiration. But yeah. I can definitely see the significance of Caravan.


guerrilla girl said...

"In world of cut and thrust..." Oh yeah, BU2B definitely fits, too. Because I ran out of time, I didn't go into the explicit detail of making a choice. And I made the same choice repeatedly, not going where I should. Or at least that's the niggling doubt that plays on my mind from time to time.