I just wrote an old buddy of mine who is serving overseas in Iraq. He is one of many reservists who were called to duty. It never escapes me that, for a decision I made a long time ago, I might be over there too.
I had two opportunities to join the military. When I was graduating from highschool I had the marines banging down my door; to this day I can' tell you why. I never took the AMSFAB nor contacted them myself, but I sure got a lot of phone calls. I was college bound though and just didn't see me fitting in to a system that really requries strict obidence out of every man for every other man's survival. I never thought it was a bad way of life, just not for me. At least that's what I thought when I was 18 years old.
Then as I was graduating from college I began to look into a career in the millitary. I looked at the Navy, the Air Force even the CIA. I found out later that my interest in the CIA ended up in my personal file at the good old government. Yes, I have an FBI file. I guess from my overseas travel and stay in Korea.
In the end I was most interested in the Navy and specifically in Navy Intelligence; but in 1994, just 10 years ago, the military wasn't dedicating a lot of resources to intelligence or hiring more officers. Something that has become a bit of a issue since September of 2001. As I didn't want to join and end up doing something I didn't like or didn't feel I would be good at; I declined to pursue the option.
Looking back I wonder if I made the right decision in 1989 and 1994. I have to say that I did in 1989. My college years were good, not the party, party, party type of years that many remember; but good none-the-less. My decision in 1994 I am less certain about. I wonder from time to time if I would have made a good officer in the Navy. I think I would have. I think I have what it basically takes to be a good officer, but my independant streak pushed me in a different direction.
So here I am in 2004 sitting at my kitchen table in my house typing on my 3 year old notebook wondering where I would be had I made a different decision. Had I chosen a military career I would only be 10 years into my 20 years. I can't say where I would have ended up, intelligence, public relations, administrative or serving aboard one of our fine ships; but most likely I would be involved in the war on terror in some fashion. Had a chosen the Marines I would most likely actually be serving in Iraq or would have already served. I also know from my own personality that once there I probably wouldn't want to leave until the job was done or I was forced to leave.
All this is neither here nor there. I didn't choose that path, I chose another. We all must do that from time to time. We don't do it every time we wake up, we actually only choose a path once in a long while, but we do have to make those choices. I don't regret any decision I have ever made. I don't believe in regret. I do believe in the occassional "what if..." though. If anything that "what if..." gets you thinking about the life you have and how you should enjoy it and when possible make it better; and of course keep your eye open for that next set of paths you will have to choose from.