The deployment countdown has officially begun once more for us. These times are different for every couple, but so far, I have likened the experience to what I imagine preparing for and running an ultra marathon across the Sahara Desert would be like. It seems that regardless of the amazing characters who always come out of the woodwork to be with you on your journey, it is still one that you ultimately take solo, for the same reason that you can never quite explain to other people the exact feeling and sequence of scenes from a dream upon waking.
In my visualization of the Marathon des Sables, I am reminded of the childhood ABC/memory game (usually played on long road trips) that begins with, “I went to the moon, and I brought with me…” You then list items in alphabetical order, going around the circle of players having to list each item until you get to “Z”. If one of the players forgets a letter/item, they are automatically disqualified. My one skill in life is that I can memorize pretty much anything I put my mind to, so I generally always kicked ass at this game and would beg my brothers to play it with me when we were kids. Brother #1 was always a worthy competitor because he too, possesses this skill. Brother #2 was horrible at this game due to his complete and total A.D.D., but he made up for it by assigning goofy words to the letters in an always dramatic display of making us laugh so hard we peed our pants. I digress. Actually, not really because those two are an enormous support crew using those very same talents, during deployments.
Many competitors don’t actually finish the Marathon des Sables. Even the most prepared runners get heat stroke and run out of endorphins as their skin is peeled from their bones by the heat and sand and wind. Maybe they run out of food. Maybe their logical brains break free from the chains and rebel against what it is they are actually doing? And for those who do finish, what a feeling that must be, to know you are capable mentally and physically of getting through something like that.
Part of me thinks, “thank goodness this is not the first time, and at least I know what I will bring with me the third time around.” Yet another part of me thinks, “maybe I would be better off in my naive state of first time preparation.” Not only that, but my usual list from A-Z of things I would take with me on my Marathon des Sables/Deployment has been dramatically revised due to being pregnant. “W” can no longer be for Wine, and “R” does not stand for Running. I am seasoned enough to know that regardless of what equipment I have, I can expect to lose the skin on my feet and a few toenails along the way. It grows back. I know that regardless of the feeling of blechiness, it is also a time of pride, productivity, discovery, appreciation, humility, and hopefully, of growth. I know that you are an absolute, time-wasting, unappreciative fool during this time if you do not commit to making each moment count to its fullest.
The moral of the story here is that regardless of the situation, “A” will always, always, always stand for Apple :)