It is difficult to be on this trip separated from family, friends, the trappings of modern day life and the social structures which hold life into place; to be excised from all the moorings of normal life and placed in this unique situation. One needs to develop and create ways to stabilize life and bring some semblance of order. The outside forces will wreak havoc unless a solid framework can be formed.
The best way to develop stability is to create routines. Because of the nature of the organization a routine is easy to establish and essentially pre-made. The absence of responsibilities from home--not all of them--allows for freedom to put just about anything that is morally sound and beneficial into the routine. There is a great amount of flexibility in the routine from week to week and variety makes the routine interesting. The routine helps to take the mind off of the loss and gives the mind and body work. It engages the mind and keeps it busy; focusing the mind on problems at work, on solutions in thought and rest during recreation.
There is one constant in the routine and that is human relationship. These are another way to develop stability in this unstable environment; human relationships. From the moment I arrived here--even before then, when I was at the airport and months before this trip--relationships were being formed with people who would be essential to the team's success and my personal success. I have met people from all over the country serving in a variety of capacities. People with graduate degrees, people with bachelor's degrees, people in the infantry, people in intelligence, people in medicine, reservists, funny people, caring people, loyal people. The list goes on; the dumb people, the lazy people, the corrupt people, the broken people, the unstable, the weak, the shy and reserved.
And now, after only a little while here in this place, some of them are leaving. I have spent countless hours with these people, we have broken bread together, we have drunk together, we have played together, we have laughed together, we have sweated together, swam together, suffered together and worked together. And just like that they will be gone. It is worse than leaving family and friends behind because the reality is I will never see these people again. There is the hope of meeting family and friends at the airport; but my new friends won't be there. It is the truth and it may sound morbid, but it is like they are dying. They are friends, the only flesh and blood connection to the "real world" that can relate to everything back home and everything that is western and they will be gone never to be seen again. Their jobs and families will take them all over the world and country. Their families will take them back. Back to the real world and away from us left here in this place.
And it hurts.
I didn't think it would. I didn't think I could care less. But now I know that I was wrong. Take another pill and push through. These things will work out.