From the Editor
Well, that's another wild year in the books! And from start to finish, 2021 really gave 2020 a run for its money, didn't it? When we saw the light at the end of the tunnel around June-ish it turned out that light was the combined freight train of the delta and omicron variants, which exacerbated and already complicated problem.
Good grief, Charlie Brown.
You know, I’m trying to channel enough grace to write good things in this column, but it’s been another tough year. If we looked (and goodness knows we don’t have to look hard), we could each find many things to complain about. It’s hard to be grateful. It takes strength to be thankful.
It helps to start small. My family has a nightly dinner conversation where we ask each other, “What was the high of your day?” The rules are that it can’t mention work (for the adults) or video games (for kids). Sometimes the high is that we had nachos for dinner, but that’s still a high! This little bit of shared gratitude can have a pretty uplifting effect.
In that same vein, one of my favorite stories in this issue is called The Long Walk (found on page 22). It’s an example of taking time to be away—to appreciate what we have. The subject of the story, Tom Cowan, a friend of mine, recently hiked the Appalachian Trail after retiring from twin military and civilian careers. I met him late in his career, so I didn’t realize what a legend he was until his retirement. Turns out that at many units he’s served at, Tom’s been that stolid member of the command that put everyone else first, led quietly by example, and guided others by teaching them to help themselves. At his retirement ceremony, someone called him “a chief’s chief,” and it was a fitting description. (I remember marveling at how many hashmarks lined his sleeve—it was a LOT of gold.) When we talked during the interview, his rich, gravelly voice still conjured that feel of having a heart-to-heart over coffee with the command master chief.
It was cathartic hearing him describe the simplicity of the trail, the absence of technology, and how friendship came fast (in Tom’s words) “just knowing you’re with people who are struggling in the same way.”
It’s crazy to think we’re looking at 2022, while wondering simultaneously why we’re still in the suck. Patience is hard to come by, but we’re all struggling in the same way right now. Some of us more than others, granted, because the holidays can be dark, especially if you lost a loved one. If it’s been a rough year, reach out to your chief, your friend, your family. Ask about the high of the day. Share a sadness.
If you don’t feel like you can open up to them yet, it’s good to keep CG SUPRT’s number handy (855-CGSUPRT [247-8778]), just in case.
The people we need to talk to, they’re out there.
And that’s a two-way street, by the way. Don’t forget to share a cup of coffee with others BEFORE they appear to be struggling. It opens that line of communication that needs to be established for when things get hairy. We’re Coast Guardsmen, which means we’re usually taking on more than we can handle, and covering our stress well. And like the tale of the boiling frog, we may not realize we’re at the point of no return until it’s too late.
This is a small Coast Guard, and we need all of you, you high-performing go-getters!
Take care of each other, and see you next year.
Anastasia Devlin, Editor-in-Chief
Click cover image to download a printable.pdf