Learning to go 'sans'
One of the first things you learn when you join the Army is how to go without alot of the things you are used to.
In basic training, you are kept sheltered from the outside world. No television, no newspapers, no internet. No privacy...but that goes without saying.
On a deployment, I thought it would be worse, but it wasn't. I had pretty much everything I needed to be comfortable, save whiskey and women, but hey, I can deal. Not too long ago I was sent on a new mission to establish communications at FOB Red Falcon here in Afghanistan. This was a brand new base. In the military, new is not nessecairily a good thing. This place was pretty damn barren. No kitchen, no showers, and no AC.
Doing without hot chow is easy. MRE's are tolerable for a time. Especially when you get creative with them. Coco mix+Peanut Butter= Ghetto Reese's Pieces mix. No AC, is adjusted too quickly. Eventually your body runs out of water to sweat, so you dont have to worry about that.
That was the roughest. When was the last time you 'scraped' dirt off your skin? Babywipes help alot, but still, they can only cover so much. I mean they start off white and end up black. You learn to adapt though. You become one with the dirt. It becomes a part of you. Everyone else adapts as well. Your sense of smell loses its 'Funk' detector. Around the clean and polished you might reek, yet among your soiled peers, you are brothers in funk.
Your smell is normal for the situation, so is everyone elses, hence...funk is normal.
Luckily, we recently got showers, and by recently I mean today. These 'Showers' have already aquired a quaint nickname. We call them 'R.Kelly Showers.' You see the pumps they use to pressurize the water are not very strong. So the water pressure is horribly and agonizingly weak. So the water comes out in a steady single thick stream.
Like if R.Kelly was peeing on you.
We are doing okay though. Spirits are high, thanks to a Xbox and Madden 2005. Im not a big fan of Sports games. Mainly because I was never that great at them, an episode concerning BaseballStars on the NES comes to mind, but thats for another day.
So we started a Madden tournament to help kill time. The funny thing is we refer to it as if it was a living breathing, Sports Center worthy event. We will sit around eating, saying, "What? you didn't see that game? Oh man, you missed a good one."
It never ceases to amaze me how we adapt so quickly to our surroundings. The mind finds ways to occupy itself, it finds ways to deal. You learn quickly to live outside of your previous lifestyle. Your mind finds way to compensate for what was lost. No TV, you read. No books to read, you write. No paper to write, you make cave drawings. In itself it is a form of survival. You need to adapt and overcome or you will go insane. I think that is the true strength of a soldier. The ability to ignore hunger, fatigue, sleep, and internet depravation, and 'drive on.' It is a return to the basics. Not in the hunter gatherer sense, but the old Tribe system. Where your whole existence is based around survival. You do not create anything of substance or art. You simply do what needs to be done to make it to the next day.