Non incautus futuri

A Washington & Lee junior and Marine Officer Candidate in Spain

On The Bus

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There is a psychological tendency, I think, to start preparing for major changes before they have even happened.

Sometimes this is good. Other times, it’s bad.

High school seniors, upon acceptance to college, often contract “senioritis,” believing that they will have smooth sailing for the rest of high school. They say that soldiers deployed in combat environments start losing their edge towards the end of their tours — their thoughts are with their families, not engaged in the fight.

At OCS this summer, the sergeant instructors had a name for this phenomenon. They called it “getting on the bus.” Approximately a week before graduation, the platoon started getting slacker on discipline. Our drill movements were shabby, our sound-offs were weak, and candidates moved slower responding to commands. The SIs would snarl: “You ain’t on the bus yet. There’s still time to fail.”

The point of these little anecdotes is to illustrate the great danger of “getting on the bus” before it is ready to leave. More than a few high school students have had their college admissions revoked after failing a class. In combat, checking out mentally gets good men killed. And it’s always possible to fail OCS, even on graduation day. As one Staff Sergeant liked to say: “Complacency kills.”

The same adage applies to my time remaining here in Spain. At this point, I’m three-odd weeks from touching down on American soil. And I’m catching myself getting slack. I’m thinking too much about where I’ll be, instead of about where I am. I’m listening to American songs again, even though I’ve been forcing myself to listen to music only in Spanish. I feel less urgency about studying, and I don’t feel as compelled to get out there and practice my speaking skills. In short, I’ve gotten on the bus — and I need to get off.

What I am doing is exactly the opposite of what I should be doing. The fact that I’m close to the metaphorical finish line doesn’t mean I should slow down. On the contrary, I should be ramping up the intensity and putting every last measure of effort into my Spanish studies here.

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Written by Lee

December 1, 2011 at 13:30

Posted in Spain

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