When SPC C and I visit one of the places we have Soldiers stationed, I get the chance to go up in the guard towers where my Soldiers spend a lot of their time when they've pulled that duty. To be honest, until this trip, I'd never been in a guard tower before.
It can get pretty dull to be on duty up there, for that long, each time they have a shift, so I try to get out there and chat them up, when I can.
"I'm not sure whether to go to school when I get back from this deployment, and then go Active Duty, or to get on a deployment to Afghanistan right away, so I can make some money, and then go back to school. What do *you* think I should do?"
He's nineteen years old, and on his first overseas mission.
That's a bit more than a third of my age! Sheesh.
Anyway, I told him, "First of all, I don't 'give advice'. My friends who go to a lot of Al-Anon meetings have taught me that bit of wisdom. But I will ask you a couple of the questions I ask of myself when I need to make a decision."
He looked a bit perplexed.
"What plan is going to give you the greatest return on your investment of time, sweat, talent, etc.? Only you will be able to figure out the answer to that. No one else can presume to tell you this, in my humble opinion.
Moreover, and perhaps even more importantly, what course of action has the greatest probability of leading to the fewest regrets?"
At that point he looked really surprised.
"Wow, Sir. I've never thought of looking at it this way. I really don't know the answer to either of those questions."
"I wasn't expecting you to have an answer at this moment, Son. These aren't the kind of questions which have ready-made responses, for the most part. The point is to realize that you *don't* have to have an answer to them right this minute. You're young, and we're not leaving here for a while, so you have time to sit with them and discern what will be true for you. I heartily encourage you to do just that!"
His buddy in the tower had been listening intently to our conversation, and asked me to repeat the last question I'd posed.
"What course of action has the greatest probability of leading to the fewest regrets?," I replied. "But that's only my opinion, and certainly doesn't reflect or pretend to represent any official Army position on the matter."
We all laughed.
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ