It was a cold as always March morning. This was during a time in my life that the actions of others, mostly those I considered better gifted in judgement, wisdom or notebly more alpha, were taken by me as highly influential. So it came to much surprise, the actions played out by myself on this particular normal as ever day, thirteen years ago. Until the point of this crossroad my Army career had consisted of the basic training, and phase 2 training for my specialist role of attack helicopter ground ops, that I under took at my regiments training barracks, a stone throw from a lovely little village, aptly named, Middle Wallop. I had been told that the best posting for the best soldiers, looking for fun and adventure, was Germany. Many of the instructors up until this time had ranted and raved about the shenanigans at these highly sort after barracks in Gutersloh, and how the young soldiers were so incredibly well received by the local girls and the epically hot summers; that would last from March to November would (believe it or not) make you miss the winter. This place sounded like a dream to my post teenage wet behind the ears…ears? However when the day came that our postings would be revealed to us, hung up on our crew room wall, I found my name listed as being one of the lucky few, my excitement of having made the list quickly became overrun with an altogether different feeling, one that if not mistaken hailed from the realms of something being terribly wrong.
You have to listen to what resonates within your own gut. You find your direction there. Your voice comes out.
My twin brother had a knack of getting himself into all sorts of trouble when we were teenagers; this was almost always with bigger boys and certainly always centred around one of their girlfriends. Nevertheless one particular evening I had woken in the night with a terrible feeling, he had been in trouble and I felt compelled to call him, only to discover that he was outside a nightclub and had been attacked not knowing where he was. This same feeling greeted me in the crew room on that fateful, cold as death March morning. It felt like a fire that was burning inside me, it came from the pit of my stomach and rose all the way up into my throat making my mouth dry and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was telling me that this was wrong, it was deeply wrong. So as I stood there, accepting the handshakes of the other soldiers who were happy for my luck of posting, I turned around and marched my way to my Commanding Officers office to divulge a decision that is perhaps one of the biggest and strangest notions I have ever been brave enough to make. Upon entering his office with the usual highly unnecessary stamp of the boot and salute, I explained to him that I didn’t wish to go to Germany and that Dishforth in North Yorkshire would in fact be the ideal posting for me. He looked at me a wash of confusion over his weathered face, “Air Trooper Bradley, are you sure?” I replied that it was indeed my certain choice. He laughed at me, as if I were a fool and perhaps, he was right, nevertheless he granted me the odd request.
The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculatingly to meet and greet unknown fate.
Since that odd decision my life has ran its turbulent lot to greet me at the point where here, I sit and write. The posting at Dishforth showed me the real side of the British Army as I am almost certain that had I gone to Germany I may very well have still been serving now, this blog wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t have the friends that I do and I would never have moved to London; at least that is how it feels. Germany was a cushy posting, I’d have loved it, yet I was hungry for something else, the truth perhaps? I honestly don’t know. However this raises a rather significant notion that any decision, no matter its scale, can change the entire course of your life, but it is these gut feelings that propel us to act. They almost always feel like an empty hole of negativity, which is an ironic warning considering that only good can come from acting on them. Perhaps they are this way so that we don’t ignore them? Either way, learning to listen to instincts and these deep feelings can be hard, especially when we have people around us, notably good people with nothing but our best interests at heart, telling us that this is wrong, or that is wrong or he/she is ultimately wrong. What they say doesn’t matter, but we allow it to, as our feelings for them and their judgment is sound; nevertheless we must all chose our own path, and if you know deep within your very core that a decision you must make is the right one, then who can possibly argue with you? It’s your life, so live it.