The Maturity of Wisdom

Like a boat leaving a ship for an unknown shore, life is a series of moments of transition into the unexplored.

So my retirement process from the Navy has sort of been put on hold.  Yes, I’m still retiring in September and yes, I’m still freaked out and excited by the prospect of, for the first time in 20 years, not knowing where I’ll be at the end of the year.

No, I’m part of the Navy’s biggest public outreach event of the year—Fleet Week New York.  I’ll be acting as one of the two senior editors for a collection of the finest Mass Communication Specialists in the U.S. Navy.  Media teams from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, the naval reserves, the U.S. Marine Corps and my own command, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East (NPASE East), will be covering events as Sailors and Marines and Coast Guardsmen descend on the Big Apple to celebrate America’s Navy.

For a Chief Petty Officer and a Navy Mass Communication Specialist, this event is THE big time, and for all the stress I’m under helping organize my corner of it, it is worth it.  This is a most excellent cap to my career.

So what does this have to do with maturity, wisdom, or the maturity of wisdom?

Well, since you asked, I’ll be happy to tell you.

I’m sick.

No joke. We’ve had a very up-and-down spring season here that has caused allergy sufferers such as myself to just be miserable.  But for about two, nearly three weeks I’ve had a cough that has been growing worse and an increasing sense of malaise and fatigue.  Monday I started feeling something in my chest when I coughed.  Yesterday that “something” started to feel like a bit of a rattle.  When I got up this morning my whole body felt weak and just blah.  When I coughed I felt like something was in my lungs.

Five years ago—just five years ago—I would have powered on through.  I would have kept telling myself I’d be over this soon and that I was just being a hypochondriac.

That was five years ago.  I’m 45 now.  A bit smarter and way more astute regarding my own health.  This morning, instead of going to command PT, I made an appointment and got seen.

Five years ago I’d have kept powering on through…and ended up with full-blown pneumonia or bronchitis within another week.  Either of those would have knocked me off Fleet Week New York and partially decapitated the leadership team I’m part of during the event.

Instead I have a bronchial infection that is being treated and, while I feel like the underside of a blown tire on the side of the road right now, I caught it early.

The wisdom of maturity means it really is ok to realize you’re sick and you need to take care of you.  After all, if you can’t take care of you properly, you sure as hell can’t take of your Sailors.  I lost a few badly needed hours at work today, yes.  But I gained a great deal more—avoiding a very nasty disease and keeping my part of Fleet Week.

Now my retirement process does have to go on hold for a bit.  Fleet Week is eating my time, but, more importantly, I need to give my body time to recover.  That means throttling back the job hunting and throttling up the sleeping when I’m off duty.  But one week of slowing down a bit won’t kill me and, in the long run, it’ll ensure my career caps off on a very high note and I don’t end up with lungs full of fluid.

The maturity of wisdom.  Took a while to get here, but I did.

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