Saying Goodbye to Government Service

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my life path, I’ll summarize the last decade or so below using clever ASCII art.

USAF Academy -> Active Duty USAF -> Reservist USAF -> Government Contractor

That’s the gist of it.  And now, I’m saying goodbye.  I’m leaving behind the world of suits and uniforms and war and, in a complete reversal that I honestly never saw coming, entering the world of art.  I call it my Starving Artist Trifecta:  voice actor, author, musician, and I’ve written about it here several times before.  The biggest pillar of that right now is my voiceover career, but without a day job to weigh me down, I hope to strengthen those other two pillars significantly.

This is probably one of the strangest moments of my life. Looking back, when I was a young teenager and I decided to throw myself as hard as I could into the world of military service and worked every day with that goal in mind, I was convinced I would be doing it for the rest of my life.  I’d be a 30 year airman, an officer until they kicked me out, defending the values of American society from “all enemies, foreign and domestic.”  I was also going to fly fighter jets and probably pilot the military’s first Mechwarrior – two things that never happened.  I had seriously drank the kool-aid.  Hell, I was brewing the stuff in my basement.  I was all about glory and honor and watching Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, duty, honor, country, and those three hallowed words reverently dictated what I could be, what I ought to have been, what I would be.

Go back and tell that guy that some day he would blink his dry eyes, shake his head, and say “I don’t want to do this anymore.”  He’d laugh in your face.

Sometimes even now I laugh in my own face.  I look in the mirror, wonder what I am doing and tell myself to get a real job, something respectable.  Something that contributes to society.  Something that’s bigger than me.  “You’re selfish,” a voice whispers in the back of my head.  “You don’t want to do the hard work.  You don’t want to sacrifice.  You’re a coward.”

It’s harder to face than you might think.  To me, it’s not just quitting my day job.  It’s committing myself to a new life, almost an entirely new worldview and philosophy.  It’s saying goodbye to the old life – the life that I spent all the years previous to this one building.  I worked hard to get here.  Really hard.  And then, all of a sudden  I realized that it wasn’t the life I was meant to lead.  It was just a prelude, I think, to the one ahead of me.  But that doesn’t keep that voice from whispering.

I’ve done some interesting things.  Some things I’ve felt great about; others maybe not so much.  I’ve met a lot of fantastic people.  I’ve met a lot of shitty people, too.  And, above all, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself and the world.  But, it’s time to move on.  I leave it to the next generation of plucky young high-schoolers with stars and stripes in their eyes to figure out what to do about this country and those that threaten it – whether that be by putting on a uniform or by getting their hands dirty helping the poor in places all across the world.

I feel like I’ll never really get out all the things in my head about this transition, but this is turning into a ramble as well as a very symbolic representation of what the last year of my life has been like.  It’s time for me to stop straddling the line.

So: Deep breath, folks.  Here we go.

5 Comments

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  1. Joe, I enjoyed working with you immensely, and appreciated the energy you threw into everything you did. I shall be needing to follow your sage advice fairly soon: I think retirement is in the cards for me in the next year or so. Substitute “starving subsistence farmer” for “starving artist” and we’ll be leading parallel lives.

  2. Joe,

    America doesn’t exist for the military, the military exist for America. Art, science, philosophy…those are the things the military exist to protect. You honorably served your country. The world is a safer place because of your service and no one can question your work ethic or patriotism. Now go make some American art.

    Pots

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