Here's one example of the kind of stories that can be therapeutic to write. Despite the tremendous amounts of anger and frustration many veterans feel, humor's a universal respite from this pain. It can help to look back on these moments of humor, to find the good in the bad.
As I slowly lost my mind with frustration in the madness of Afghanistan, moments of humor helped me cling to sanity. And, sometimes these moments of humor just found us. A month or so before our replacements arrived, I was out patrolling with a platoon of Georgians and a team of Afghan soldiers in a village a few kilometers northeast of base.
|Call Me, Maybe...?|
As we moved through this village, I found myself holding security across an alleyway from one of the Afghan soldiers accompanying us. At first, I could have sworn I was hearing things, but I looked over at this guy and yep, there he was, busting out the following lyrics: “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe!” Holy shit, is this guy really singing Carly Rae Jepsen right now? Naturally, I started laughing. He then looked at me, smiled, and immediately transitioned into the following, modified version of “Bad Boys.” “Taliban, Taliban, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you, Taliban, Taliban.” While the slant rhyme was a bit of a stretch, the rhythm was spot-on.
Immediately after wrapping up his tune, this Afghan soldier let out a crazy sounding laugh that led me, of all things, to think of Stephen the Irishman’s quote in Braveheart: “The Lord tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re fucked!” So, as my stream of consciousness led to this image of a kilted Irishman holding security in a mud-brick village in Afghanistan, I laughed even harder at the absurdity of the situation.
Regardless of the fact that we were in a village with recent reporting of a suicide vest threat, looking for an explosives cache, humor found us. This served as a key theme throughout the deployment: with all the daily frustration, if we couldn’t find reasons to laugh, we all would have lost our minds.