07 September 2006

Fire At Will Explained

In the battles of old, armies would face each other in organized rows and columns and await orders from their commanding officers. As the confrontation began Captains gave their men targets and barked out, “Ready, aim, fire!” The first row of soldiers complied, and then knelt to the ground to reload as the second row stepped forward and received the same command. This method worked fine until the armies’ proximity to one another became to close, or the battle itself simply too chaotic. Captains answered these situations with the following order: “Fire at will.” Of course, modern soldiers can still receive this command, and what it implies has not changed. Under this order a soldier independently decides his target, when to pull the trigger, and how best to react to the sudden changes in the battle. From this military command arises a metaphor that expresses my personal attitude toward experiencing life; I choose to fire at will.

Now before you start to worry that I may someday randomly point a gun at you, allow me to explain. I could live like those soldiers dependent on their commanding officers for an order. I would wait for someone to tell me what to do or simply mirror the actions of others. I would not arrive at my own goals and aspirations in life, rather at the goals and aspirations recommended to me by society or an individual. Perhaps most significantly, I would not choose when to act, to venture, to live, rather I would wait on fate to decide for me the opportune moment for such actions. And here lies a very troubling problem for me, for I believe that the opportune moment is always the present. If I waste my time dreaming about my future life, my real and present life will pass me by without warning. Do not mistake me, I believe in fate, but, as paradoxical as it may sound, I also believe that we must live our lives independent from fate. Throughout life this omnipresent and omnipotent force provides us with signs and guidance, but we must ultimately decide which path to take. Therefore, I choose to live like the other group of soldiers; I fire at will, with no opportunity missed.

This quest to seize and conquer the opportunities in life compels me to possess a tremendous zeal for life itself. Each new day heralds the arrival of new opportunities and possibilities for me in life, as it does for each and every individual member of humanity. The world we live in is an exciting and wonderful place, so rich in experiences, places, tastes, sights, and sounds that no one man could possibly witness and undergo all in his one life, but he could sure as Hell try his best. And thus we arrive at my ultimate goal in life. My zeal to experience life and all that the world offers knows no bounds. From leaping out of a plane 14,000 feet up in the air, to attending the worship services of a religion different from mine, or to running a full marathon, if it expands my worldly experience I will do it. In the end though, I am of the opinion that the best way to experience life, or to simply live in general, is through travel.

Travel exists as so much more than a simple journey from point A to point B. Travel opens new doors while providing the traveler with the keys to unlock still more doors. Travel leads to new experiences undertaken, new places explored, new sights observed, new tastes savored, and new sounds heard. Travel leads to a greater social network of friends that could possibly span the globe. Travel even possesses the potential to create a more peaceful human society, because as one travels and makes friends and learns about other regions, one becomes more likely to understand and respect the people of that region, their views, their culture, and that region itself. Travel leads to a greater self-awareness and self-identity because as new experiences and new parts of the world introduce themselves to a traveler, the traveler questions his place and role in the world, and along side these experiences. Furthermore, travel also leads to a greater awareness of the world around you, and hence a more open mind. Here lies the key, because I believe an open mind will persuade one to explore the world more so. At least this stands true for me, the more I travel, the more I desire to travel, and the more my zeal for life expands. But travel does not require venturing to the other side of the world. Travel can take place in your own backyard. How much of your neighborhood, your city, your region have you actually visited and explored? What you discover could surprise you; it may even alter your perception of the place you call home. This theme of travel leads to the purpose of this blog. Very soon I will embark on the most exciting endeavor of my life to date, to continue with the fire at will metaphor, it is the equivalent of unleashing a barrage of heavy artillery fire in the battle of life.

On September 27 I will leave behind my hometown, Memphis, for a ten-month stay in Munich, Germany to study abroad. Actually, I lied, and the title of this blog is a bit of a misnomer. In reality the school I will study at is about an hour and a half by train north of Munich, in a small town called Eichstaett. I simply could not resist the good flow of alteration, nor could I ignore the fact that most people would not have a clue as to where Eichstaett lies on the map. For at least a year now, I have prepared for this day to come. I hope to return from this year abroad not only wiser about the world, but also about my place in it, not to mention as a true globe-trekker. Essentially, I look at it like this: Europe, stand by to be at my mercy. Of course, there will be the challenges of mastering German, making new international friends, and surviving college courses not only in another country, but taught in another language as well. But I digress, the purpose of this initial entry is not so much an introduction to my study abroad experience, rather more of an introduction to me and the reason for this blog.

I will write on here for two main reasons: one, to share my experience, and two, to inspire you to make the most of your days. Specifically, I want my family and friends to read my entries and share in my experience with me. Also, I want to give other college students a little taste of my time in Germany, and hopefully persuade them to undertake the exciting opportunity of studying abroad for themselves. Most importantly though, I desire to share my zeal of life with you, and by doing so motivate you to actively live your own life to the fullest. Unfortunately, I all too often witness other individuals passively allowing life to pass them by. I hope you will develop you own exuberance toward life, and not take it for granted. You should always feel fortunate for your life, and treasure it by seizing the opportunities that arise to experience it in a new way. Those are my intentions, but if the idea of reading about the interesting and potentially humorous trials and tribulations of an American college student studying abroad for a year sounds attractive enough to read on, then please, by all means, check in from time to time.

Most entries will more than likely not even approach the length of this one, and I cannot make any promises as to how often I will update. In fact, I am not even entirely sure of the level of Internet access in Eichstaett, so this blog may be very short-lived. But I doubt that’s the case. I will aim to update once a week, but it could be more or less depending on my schedule and my experiences. I invite you to leave as many questions and comments as you desire, please let me hear from you. You are not even required to become a member of this blog, simply click on the anonymous option when leaving a comment; however, I ask that you also please leave a name in your message so I know whom I’m talking with. I look forward to hearing from you, staying in touch, and sharing this coming year with you as best I can.

It’s a fast paced world out there, so double-knot your shoes, grab a jacket, and try to keep up with me as I fire at will.


Anonymous said...

Nick, I will do my best to keep the supply chain fluid. For your adventures, as well as living vicariously through your global trekking.

Nick O. said...

I appreciate that. I'll return the generosity in the future. Probably.

Anonymous said...

Nicholas, some of the most memorable times in our lives last for much less than 10 months. That fun memorable summer was only 3 months. A really good trip to Manhattan lasted a week. A weekend away to UT hiking and camping and party hopping was only 3 days. And a never to be forgotten high school cross country race to prove you would be in the top 7 of the number one cross country team in TN.was under 17 minutes...Think of all the adventures packed in to 10 months! Looking forward to hearing about each and every one of them. mc

laura leigh said...

nicely written first entry. i'm excited to keep up with your adventures! have fun, and be safe.

Anonymous said...

Nick O, I'm glad that you have decided to keep a blog for your travels. Just remember to post pictures and bring back video!

Anonymous said...

Hey nick! I'm glad I'll have a way to see how you're doing in Germany! Put your address on here sometime so I can send you a postcard.


Mycroft Jones said...

I was reviewing all of our adventures on facebook just now, and I have a question for you: what am i going to do to amuse myself during christmas break without you begging everyone to take an ice-breaking canoe down some obscure river i've never heard of?


Mycroft Jones said...

we should invent ice-breaking canoes. i bet the germans have them. you should pirate their designs and bring them back to the states.

Grandma said...

Nick be safe and enjoy your new adventure. We will be looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Love you grandma & grandpa

Anonymous said...

Deer nick
Pleace try to make more trip to see me in my homes- the Mountains. We can fish four meet and walk up tres.

Nick O. said...

MC: That is a terrific outlook that I can agree with whole heartedly.
Laura: Thanks. I was a bit confused when I saw your comment at first, but Austin cleared it up for me.
B: Pictures there will definitely be. Videos, hopefully.
Allie: I'll send you my address in email at some point.
Andrew: I think whitewater kayaking did originate in Europe...
G&G: Thank you, we'll be in touch.
Victor: Thanks so much, I'll make it back someday. They really should make keyboards for bears to use.

Nathalie said...

I love you for making this Nick! That's all I have to say so far, you seem to have the correct attitude. Miss you already!

love, Natalie

PS: Paris. Soon. You. Me. That guy I go around with. Further information pending!