I have survived 5 months of being behind a desk. I have done this before. Hated it as much. Wherever I drive on this island, I have the skyline view. I look at the weather, reading the clouds, anticipating what a pilot would do when faced with their associated weather and wind, and the longing hits me like a sledgehammer.
I miss flying.
I miss chatting with the engineers and the technicians as I sign for the aircraft before a sortie. I miss grooming young copilots to take charge of the aircraft. I miss the walkout, preening the twin-turbine metal bird and firing up the engines, the winding up of the gearbox, the engagement of the rotor system.
I miss my Nuri.
However, I shall not despair. I have a Shepherd and through all my guilt and iniquity I shall have to trust Him and yield unto Him even if devastation be His conclusion for me. But I seriously think that not.
Things have been set in motion already. I have sent out my resume to prospective employers, and one has responded right on their reputation for being prompt. The other has fallen deaf, also commensurate with their reputation for being the preceived headhunter spoilt for choice. Of course, my ultimate aim is for the former as they wield greater muscle as a company and are not propped by political affiliation which can change with the seasons.
I have submitted my request to leave the force to my Panglima, and he has followed on by submitting his concurrence of my intentions to Manpower, with a hint of regret at losing someone with my experience in the Nuri world. I feel that pain too, but I have other injuries which demand alternate directions of ambition. I now await the Air Board to deliberate on my application, and the eventual release by the Armed Forces Council.
Here now is the incubation period. I would rather say, kucing mahu beranak.
So what can we do in an incubation period?
Maybe I should thank the air force for sending me to the only desk where the workload is below my exhaustion level. Having been the Staff Officer2 Heli at Air Ops Command in MINDEF, being posted downstream really isn't something to make me break a sweat. So I say, Thank you. I can surf all day, blog and bitch as I see fit and consume coffee copiously. Yes, I have concurrent matters to see to, reviewing SOPs, operational orders, and paperwork, but it isn't groundbreaking the way that Air Ops Command was, driving me to insanity and heartbreak for the first fortnight till my 3-star General began to trust my substance.
This place has insanity drivers of its own kind.
For instance, an Ops Division Leader who holds meetings over matters that can be dealt with summarily, just because nobody is going to be at the same table as he is otherwise. As Roger Whittaker would lament, "Sunrise, sunset...sunrise, sunset..." And so goes the entire morning into noon, and noon into evening. Then a new day begins after.
I read recently a directive from the Chief of Air Force's office calling for all men to participate in a competition to pen the Air Force "tagline". Per Ardua Ad Astra. That's the RAF motto wherever a "royal" air force is, such as in England, the originator, or as is in Australia and New Zealand. It means Through Adversity To The Skies. Malaysia doesn't use it as we penned one in our own language. We say Sentiasa Di Angkasa Raya or in English, Always Aloft. Here, I believe, that the workstyle set by my Ops Division Leader suggests that for No 2 Air Division, we may be the first Command Headquarters to return to a Latin motto that reads like the title of this post. It would fit so well as to never be outdated. If only the suggestion could be so boldly made, but I baulk at the organisation's demised sense of humour after seeing what they told me to do with The Collecttive Consciousness.
Still, I shall concede that the stress levels here are well below that of Air Ops Command. As I look upon my tour here as my run-out-date office, I will agree that this may not be a golden handshake, but a limp one nonetheless.
While I was not watching, the Devil did see this room as his playground.
I have signed my name to a new car, the idea having hatched one afternoon as I sat idly getting my haircut. The trusty old 1984 Toyota LE was growing untenable in Labuan's unforgiving workshops. Its repainted red coat accruing to my mid-life crisis had developed spots from the wallsplash off the new squadron building during thunderstorms, the airconditioning would have melted the Antartic, and the shimmying wheel at 110kmh threatened to dislodge my fillings that have plugged steadfastly since I was eight. It was time for a fond farewell. I now share the SEG with my wife as I wait over the next three months for the Vios, which she shall inherit. The Beattitudes may have indeed been proven prophetic. I have no regrets, as I shall inherit the SEG powered by a 20-valve Levin.
The cycling has been good. I have remained regular enough not to slap on right back every pound I lost during The Biggest Loser RMAF, though some constipated days can be illusorily discouraging. I wonder if years of domestication has given rise to periodic water retention in my flogged old body. However, being able to dress up in attire that I could not shoehorn into for the past 4 years assures me that not all is lost in this war.
A week ago I met with the two biggest prospective bosses from the company I intend to join upon leaving the air force. It was a Thursday afternoon at their local branch hangar. It was pleasant enough a chat, and they remembered me as vaguely as I did them from my days as a 2nd Leftenant in the force. I dread to think that anyone remembers me from back then and I hope that the nebulous memories encourage forgiveness. The final word from them was to let them know when I have any information, as to how soon I can leave.
Maybe this isn't so bad.
All I need to work on now is a hastened exit. If only these meetings at Div weren't Ad Infinitum .....