Six Weeks of Hell

February 19, 2013
Over the hills, I could hear the pounding footsteps of the Cadets; their deafening cadence echoed throughout the campus-- left, right, left, right, left. It was a fearful and humbling sound. But this was my future, one where my every step was to be guided by someone other than myself. I would be a sheep, my every action at the whim of my shepherd. And a sheep I was, as the moment I arrived at military school I was taken away to be sheered. With a couple quick flips of the razor, my long and tangled fur was gone. It was replaced with a bald head and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. But before I had a chance to let my emotions sink in, a woman approached me and told me it was time to go. So I gathered up my courage, threw it in my Rup sack along with the rest of my belongings and kissed my parents goodbye. As they left the room, a new world came in through the closing doors, and with it came a challenge unlike any other I had ever faced.

Six weeks of hell, an initiation into military school, known as Plebe System lay ahead of me. Its goal was to assert (forcibly if I may add) order and discipline onto the cadet until his very breath stunk of it. The means of achieving this goal was simple: uniformity. My Plebe Brothers and I were no longer individuals. We became a single being, painted in a common uniform and driven by a common suffering. Mistakes were no longer the fault of a single person, and the blame, along with the push-ups that ensued, was evenly spread out amongst our cold, bald heads. We marched until we were machines; in perfect cadence of course, courtesy of our First Sergeant and the seemingly endless lefts and rights that came bellowing out of his mouth. Our whole lives succumbed to that powerful chant. Left, right, left, right, left. Our very hearts beat to its cyclical rhythm. Left, right, left, right, left. It became the only thing we knew.

It drove me mad. All of it. The cadence. The uniformity. The constant barking of orders. I couldn't take it anymore. I wanted more than anything to walk to my own beat again, to be free of this uniformity, but there was nothing I could do about it. There was no way out of this hell and I had to accept it. And I did accept it. And after those six weeks of hell, after those six weeks of walking to someone else’s beat, my god the satisfaction I felt taking those first, unburdened steps was the closest to ecstasy I will ever get. And it changed me. The uniformity, the suffering, the godforsaken, maddening cadence of “left, right, left, right, left.” It changed me. And as absurd as it may sound, I wouldn't trade in those six weeks of hell for anything.

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