I obsess over each pulse of electricity as it jumps from synapsis to synapsis. I seek to filter each one as they pass. I obsess over what is “right” and what is “wrong.” I hoard the past. I obsess over all that was so as not to let it drift away. I am the free climber looking for the next hold, wondering if it will lead to safety or peril. Obsessed with the thrill but mortally aware of the danger. I calculate the risk, but risk is inherent, no matter the calculation.
I am Orwell’s 1984, obsessing over the “truest” past, free of filters of hindsight. I am Alleg’s The Question, obsessing over what I have, and will, do in the name of others. I am NF’s “The Search,” looking for the answers along the journey, obsessing over who I am along the way. I obsessively wonder if I am the unnamed narrator or Tyler Durden. Do I own my life or do the things I own--own me?
I obsess over memory because it is what defines and shapes our thoughts, the thought that shape actions. I obsess over my every move because our lives do not exist in a vacuum. My lonely thoughts and actions can shape the lives of others. The lives of others in turn shape the lives of their others. My action is a pebble tossed into a pond and my life is a skipping rock across its surface. Each impact creates a series of ripples. I obsess because I feel I have to. I obsess because I want those ripples to be positive, not negative. I obsess over my memory because all that is forgotten is knowledge lost. It is that which creates repeated mistakes and missed opportunities. I obsess over my every thought, my every word, my every action, my every expression, and, most of all, my every mistake because I am obligated to do so.
I obsess so I might be the best rock I can, guided, far-reaching, and whose ripples are what they needed to be when it mattered most.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.