Ten years ago, I was Engineering Duty Officer on the USS Hartford (SSN-768), in port in Groton, Connecticut. We were due to leave on a six-month deployment, and were doing last-minute maintenance checks. That day was extraordinary; within hours we had closed out all the maintenance and were effectively ready to go. (And security on the base changed incredibly quickly.)
For the rest of the week, we didn’t know if would be sent to sea that day, the next day, or on our originally scheduled date. In the end, we left about a week after 9/11 for our six months at sea.
I have a strange relationship with 9/11 because of all of this. The Hartford left just after 9/11, and we got back to the US it was the end of March, 2002. We got very little news during that period, we missed all of the memorial events, the unity of the country, and the invasion into Afghanistan. (Though we were in the Gulf during the invasion, our boat didn’t directly participate.) By the time we got back, we saw all the flags on the interstate overpasses, the yellow ribbons everywhere, and all of the other signs. The country had moved in and done a lot of healing in those six months, and I hadn’t been involved.
I was fortunate enough not to know anyone that was killed in any of the attacks. And with time, my experiences feel like they’ve gotten closer to everyone else’s. But a six-month hole between my experiences and the country’s collective consciousness is still a strange gulf to bridge.
Last fall I started blogging what I hoped might become a series of posts based on reading “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. (Check it out here.)
Well, I just finished with a massive project for my MBA (thus the lack of posting recently) and am enjoying a week off before classes start again. So I thought it would be a great time to put out a quick post or two to re-start this series. Here’s another great quote from the book:
Just because you find the work too hard to do, don’t leap to the conclusion that it is humanly impossible; but if the work can and should be done by a man, then consider yourself capable of doing it.
-Meditations, Book Six, #19
I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been reading and re-reading Meditations, the diary/book written by Marcus Aurelius.
Lately I’ve gone back to keeping it in my bag more often and reading bits of it on the Tube/train each day. Every time I read it I’m reminded of things that I want to do in my life. Today’s thought?
Tossing aside everything else, hold fast to these few truths. We live only in the present, in this fleet-footed moment. The rest is lost and behind us, or ahead of us and may never be found. […]
-Meditations, Book Three, #10.
I picked up a book recently that’s been both a fascinating and inspirational read: “Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius. (This book is the translation I actually own, which is a bit newer and has an unnecessarily pompous title.)
I’ve found it a great little book to keep with my bag as I ride the Tube into work. There are a lot of short but important thoughts that help remind me of what’s important in life and what I really need to be focusing on.
To be fair, it’s also clear it was written over 2000 years ago, so certain bits aren’t very applicable. Some of it is on the metaphysical side, some on the nature of physics, etc. But so much of it is a leader meditating on how to be a better person, and still rings very true today.
I’m going to periodically post quotes from this book; things that I find interesting or important. Perhaps you’ll find them as intriguing as I do!
Today’s closing quote:
Claim your right to say or do anything that accords with nature, and pay no attention to the chatter of your critics. If it is good to say or do something, then it is even better to be criticized for having said or done it. Others have their own consciences to guide them and will follow their own lights. Don’t be gazing after them, but keep your eyes on the straight path ahead of you, […]
-Meditations, Book Five, #3