Friday, March 31, 2006

Changing of the guard.......and crying in my beer.

Harry Hopkins had a phrase he said when Roosevelt met Churchill at the Argentia conference, he called it the "Changing of the Guard". Later at the conference in Tehran, he would talk about putting the spoke in Churchill's wheel, which was a euphemism for the expulsion of the British Empire from its leading position in world affairs. In its place, a new order arose.

I've thought about this during the week. Winding up this trip up here in LA and Ventura county, I became yet again, aware today of how much I've changed since I left the US to live overseas. I can't wait to get my ass back to Japan. I used to be excited to come out to California. In LA I loved to go to Santa Monica. In San Diego there were always adventures to be had. Now however they fade in comparison, to the excitement I get when I am Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo or Bangkok. Or for that matter just riding into a small town in northern Japan. There are a lot of reasons for this and its hard to articulate. However a lot of it stems from the things I now value as important and the things that I don't (anymore).

Two examples from the last 48 hours illustrate:

Example #1- I had some time to kill before I had to be at the airport so instead of just wasting it I went to visit the USS Midway museum. I served on a sister ship, USS Coral Sea so it was with considerable interest that I had visited the ship. They have done a really good job fixing up the ship and making it into a museum. However a curious sense of lost time haunted me when I walked the length of the hangar deck and up passageways and ladders that were familiar to me. And a sense that if I had known what I know now, then, I would have made some very different life choices.

Example#2- I attended a change of command ceremony for a great American who had been a student of mine in the training squadron, a long time ago and a galaxy far away. This guy is a great American , and he has worked hard an achieved great things in his Navy career. However to see him with gray hair, a grown son who had served a year in Iraq, and an audience filled with men that I had looked up to when I was "growing up" was a haunting trip down memory lane. Talking to folks after the ceremony though made me realize how much my ideas had changed. Most were surprised that I had stubbornly resisted attempts to bring me back to the states, or internally shook their heads at how I had gotten sidetracked in my life, while I sat thinking to myself how I would gladly trade any of their homes in suburbia and their other experiences for a small apartment in the mid-levels or Causeway Bay and consider myself to be the lucky man in the trade. Sidetracked I may be but I can not think of a better course change for the life of me.

That's not to put them down, by the way; this new breed is far better than we were in our day methinks, smarter more focused and with better business sense. In my day 1000's of flight hours and traps were all that matter-and being able to win the big roll.

However there goals are no longer my goals. And I'm happy with my new goals. Give me a beer in Delaney's, or Paddy O' Foley's over a fine wine in a fancy California bistro any day of the week. The atmosphere is far better.

Gotta get dressed to go get depressed. I'll post now and follow up on this theme later.

Ja ne.

Here is to the new breed!


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