Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Best and Worst NEW YEARS of my Life:

S.O.D. Photography

"Bright lights and soothing sounds." That's what I would respond if asked to describe my new years in 5 words. I began the year 2013 with friends in New York and with the help of the band "Phish" playing in Madison Square Garden I greeted January 1st with open arms. It was freezing cold outside but I danced and sang myself into a warm radiant bliss. I actually laughed and smiled so much that night that my jaw began to hurt. I felt an unbreakable bond with myself and my friends and along with the fabulous music I felt comfortable and confident about the new year ahead.

But that was last year.

This New Years was a little different. I had approached a milestone in army training known as "Hell Week" and my platoon spent most of the past couple days in the desert. The training was tough but the weather conditions made things harder as it rained most of the time leaving us cold, damp and uncomfortable. We ate tuna for every meal and shared bits and pieces of chocolate that one of the soldiers had stashed in his vest. We had to be in full gear 100% of the time unless there were special circumstances (i.e. to take a crap) and the downtime was minimal.

On the eve of New Years, we ran with stretchers and crawled in the sand the length of a football field - all before breakfast. It was a tough day but aside from a few testosterone-feuled episodes amongst some of the soldiers we all worked together and bonded during our shared misery. 

As the sun went down we were ordered to dig foxholes. The idea was to dig our own graves and cover them with our tent fabrics to protect us from the elements when we went to sleep. After a few more hours of drills and punishments we were allowed to rest. My vest dug deep into my lower back as I lowered myself onto the sand and rested my helmet on the wall of the foxhole and folded my hands over my weapon. It felt like being in a large bathtub minus the hot water and relaxation. It was a clear night and I volunteered to sleep near the entrance so I could look up at the stars as my tent-mate Ofir curled deep into the covered foxhole. I soon heard his loud snores.

An unknown amount of time had elapsed when the sound of a motor roused me from my semi-sleep-state. "GET UP! EVERYBODY GET UP NOW!" screamed the guard on watch. I sprang up just in time to see a white pickup truck speed up to our campsite and in an instant a dark figure hopped out of the vehicle. Bright flashes from the barrel of his semi-automatic rifle illuminated the darkness and four loud pops followed exploding into the night. We were told beforehand that there may be drills with blank rounds and not to enter magazines into our weapons and return fire. rather we should get into positions and yell "FIRE!" during the simulation. The figure, who turned out to be our logistics commander, called out to a soldier and said he had been "hit" and needed immediate medical attention. We scrambled to get him onto the stretcher as our commander pointed to the top of a large hill and told us to take the wounded to safety.

Running up the hill with the stretcher was near impossible. The sand was so deep that it went halfway up my calve . It reminded me of when I would go skiing in upstate new york and my feet would get stuck in the fresh powder snow. My muscles were sore and unresponsive. I experienced a weightlessness that prevented me from moving like I wanted to and in my wobbly vertigo-state I would stumble awkwardly. The circumstances were a shock to us but we encouraged, pushed and finally cursed each other to get the stretcher to the top. Miraculously and triumphantly, we completed the mission and returned to our foxholes to sleep albeit with one eye open.

The next day, New Years Day, we hiked with all our gear to new campsite. Following the trek I was surprised to hear my name on the army radio. My commander told me to take all my stuff and hop in the Jeep going back to our base because I had a dentist appointment. I was slightly amused at the situation. Military bureaucracy can work in one's benefit too. 

As I stumbled into the dentist's office I immediately apologized for the revolting odor emanating from my body. Both the dentist and his assistant laughed understandingly and told me to take a seat. "Okay, what we're going to do today is extract your upper wisdom teeth," the dentist said with a strong Russian accent. I had no choice but to laugh at my current life situation. I was taken from one unbelievably tough circumstance and thrown into another. The procedure was done under LOCAL anesthesia and I was awake the whole time. I did not feel very much but I heard all the sounds of tooth being removed from gum which is arguably worse than the pain.

Upon finishing the procedure I was given 3 days to rest, recover and reflect at home. Although this New Years wasn't as glorious as last years (I ate tuna fish instead of listening to Phish) It was full of life and progress. I began 2014 by pushing myself to a personal breaking point and then removing something bad from my body. Although it's just psychological symbolism, I can't help but feel that I got things off to good start.

I'm proud of myself and I hope to continue this attitude well into 2014 and the rest of my life. The attitude that I can reach previously unattainable heights and purge from life the toxic people, ideas and thoughts that tend to hinder my progress. I'm excited for a new year of life, connection, growth and fun. A year of honesty where what I think, say and do are in one in harmony. 

2014 is the year of HONESTY, PERSONAL FREEDOM, and PROGRESS!



  1. David,

    This is your best work yet... 2013 was certainly your year. I have seen you grow from a cowering boy to a fierce warrior in a number of months. I have no doubt that 2013 will pale in the light of all your accomplishment in 2014. Keep trukin. Stay safe. Love you.

    -A friend

  2. David I'm so proud of you for finishing your hardest week of training I remember going through it it's nearly impossible. You have come a long way your a inspiration to me keep it up NEVER quit!

  3. There are certain things in life that are without a doubt factual, and then there is our inevitable and unforeseeable future. Dave you may not know where your are going to end up at the end of the day, but i can say that today after reading this piece you are well on your way to greatness, power, honestly, and most importantly personal freedom!
    Save travels