Harmoniously crossing each other

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Where the I-710 and I-405 meet.

On my commute the other day, I merged onto the 405 freeway onramp from the 710 freeway offramp, which is a loop entrance. At the end of the loop, there’s just a short amount of road to merge onto the 405 freeway while others try to merge into the freeway you just left – this happens when going either from 710 to 405 or vice-versa.

I’ve noticed that every time I merge here, it always seems to be seamless. There’s never any congestion, close calls or accidents. It seems rather smooth for such a short area to merge. It got me thinking how it operates like a well-lubed gear.

From an aerial view the merging area could resemble where the teeth of two gears mesh, never colliding, just simply coexisting. That got me thinking deeper. Sometimes I think about people wandering about this planet aimlessly, or with a goal. Somewhat like on Donnie Darko, I imagine a path laid out in front of them dictating where they will be and a path behind them denoting where they have been. In my imagination these paths look much like the streets on Google maps.

Anyway, back to this freeway merger. It doesn’t take much ground to cover such a large transition when people work together. Imagine their feelings as they reach this intersecting path. Drivers come at it with apprehension not unlike the apprehension of entering a gathering. Most are cautious because they don’t know what to expect of others. Are they coming in fast? Are they coming in slow? I’m impressed at how quickly decisions are made in that short area. Pressure. Perhaps that is what makes for a smooth transition.

We are all teeth on gears for that moment. We coexist while attached to something bigger than us, but surrounded by us. We have no choice but to respect each other’s paths. I can almost visualize mutual nods as manners triumphantly create harmony.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines harmony as the pleasing combination or arrangement of different things. I wonder if we were always so pleasantly arranged, would we could we coexist as in John Lennon’s “Imagine” song.

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Life changing or life directing

What was the one experience that completely changed your life? What happened? How did it change your life?

When I think back, it’s like I told my beer buddy, “watch my beer, I’m going to join the Marine Corps for a bit, I’ll be back.”

I left for a few months, which turned into a year, then I was stationed about three to four hours away for the remaining three years of my enlistment. Indeed I returned. I routinely visited and imbibed with him as well as other buddies.

When I enlisted, everyone discouraged it and I think some people were hurt because I had not consulted with them. It might have been random to some, but at the same time my decision to do so sort of dawned on me. I was aimlessly going about life. I had dropped out of multiple colleges and would work a real estate deal here and there to survive. That’s exactly what I was doing, surviving. I wasn’t living. It was happy hour, sleep, happy hour, sleep routine. 

So, when it came to me that I could still enlist in the Marine Corps – like I would have liked to out of high school – I felt like I imagine the prodigal son felt when he came up with the idea of returning to his father as a servant. He was in desolation and thought he had come across a solution. I really felt and thought to myself, “why didn’t I think of this sooner?!” 

It’s funny how everyone thought that something would happen to me. I really never believed anything was going to happen. In my eyes, I thought I had gotten myself something to keep me occupied for another four years, maybe even a career. Furthermore, I wanted to stay as far away from routine as I could when it came to choosing a job in the military.

At 24 years old, I believed I was enlisting for work, not necessarily looking to go to war. By the time I had graduated boot camp, I wanted to go to war. It’s funny, I guess that’s all the “brainwashing” people always talk about. They do a really good job of pumping you up and amping up destruction. Anyway, I was a point or two shy of a perfect score on the ASVAB test. I don’t think I ever met anyone else in the military with higher scores than mine. I was free to pick any job.

I remember the recruiter trying to sell me on aviation mechanics because supposedly they make six figures in the civilian sector. When I asked the recruiter about public affairs, he said you go with different units and write about what they do and stuff. That sounded like a winner to me because I figured that was the least routine and I’d get to explore. Little did I know it would be my future.

I wanted travel. I wanted adventure. I didn’t care much about the patriotism, honor and other stuff shoved into my head while enlisted. I learned about patriotism on a trip to Canada, but I’ll save that short story for another date.

I didn’t get travel. I didn’t get adventure. Instead, I received experience in public relations, journalism and design. I also learned to fire some weapons, flew in helicopters and blew some stuff up with EOD Marines. I guess there was some adventure. Anyway, I never took the whole thing seriously. Looking back, I could have done much more. 

That being said, now I always think to myself, “I can do so much more.”

Oh and I realized everyone didn’t know what they were talking about. I wasn’t shipped off to war like everyone thought. Upon honorable discharge, I emerged with so much more knowledge and skills, I returned to college with a fervor for more knowledge and I had a free ride that should take me into my master’s.

Furthermore, I was also assisted in getting into school by a USMC Leadership Scholastic Program offered to those Marines who achieve a high score on their ASVAB. (My transcripts weren’t exactly the greatest at the other schools I attended albeit I was an A student in high school.) The experience gave me a completely new outlook on life and school continues to give me all the puzzle pieces I need to complete the bigger picture.

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Josue Aguirre

Here’s some of my work as an enlisted photojournalist or you can Google “Cpl. Josue Aguirre”: 
http://www.marines.mil/SearchResults.aspx?Search=Cpl.%20Josue%20Aguirre