Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happiness: War’s Social Faux Pas

I’d like to personally thank the guy or gal who invented Instant Messaging. With a webcam I can see my wife and kids over the Internet and ‘chat’ with them often. It’s a modern-day miracle! (ughum, thanks Al Gore.) After chatting and then going to work out while listening to my ipod, the natural joy chemicals started to flow. I feel like singing at the top of my lungs. But I’ve learned I should not be too happy at war.

Today I heard that a really good soldier went home for his two weeks of ‘Rest and Recuperation’, and on the last day of his leave he checked himself into the hospital for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I’ve already heard a few people offer him no pity. They say it was a ploy to stay home. Ploy or not, if the man is desperate enough to admit himself into the hospital for severe mental health issues, there’s clearly something wrong! There isn’t much sympathy in an organization that’s developed a ‘suck-it-up and drive-on, soldier’ mentality.

When I came back from leave, I was happier than ever. When someone asked rhetorically how I was doing, I replied like I always had prior to coming to Iraq. I’d say with energy and enthusiasm, zest and belief, “Wonderful” or “Super”, or “Couldn’t be better unless I were twins”, to borrow my uncle’s line.

The response I received wasn’t good. In fact, others would look at me like they didn’t want to be around someone so happy. Everyone walked around with a sour puss. Talk about gloomy! After being back now about three weeks, my overall enthusiasm has begun to wane. Except for the unusual joy I’m feeling now, the trolls have pretty much branded me with their contagious infection. The truth is, it’s not very polite to be so happy when everyone else is gloomy.

Yesterday someone asked me how I was. “I’m surviving,” I said, trying to blend in. “How are you?” I added.

“I could be better.” We seemed to agree with each other’s plight, and then simultaneously walked away with our heads down to the ground and our bottom lip dragging near our combat boots.

I think the next time someone asks, “How’s life treating you?” I should respond, “Like a baby treats a diaper!”

Whaa, whaa! Let’s just all go eat a plate full of worms.


No comments: