March 25, 2015: Leader?
I talked with Terry and I think I was right in my assessment. He’s lost hope that his kids and grandkids are still alive. It’s strange. I’ve never seen him like this. He and I have been close all of my life and I’ve never seen him give up. I watched him fight through all kinds of issues over the years … medical, family … you name it. “Give up” wasn’t in his vocabulary.
“You don’t want to know for absolutely sure?” I was incredulous.
Terry hesitated and took a sudden interest in the grain of the wood in the pallets on which we stood. We were in the observation post bunker. Terry was pulling guard duty.
I felt like I was arguing against myself. After all, I wasn’t necessarily in support of the addition to our intelligence-gathering mission.
“I know I’d never rest until I knew if D.J. was dead or alive,” it felt wrong to say it that way – like I was accusing him of deserting his kids.
“I haven’t,” Terry replied solemnly.
I looked at his face and I could tell it was true. He probably hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since the crash. His eyes were rimmed with black circles. He looked haggard. We’d been so busy … surviving that I really hadn’t taken note until right then.
What kind of leader doesn’t take note of his troops? What kind of leader am I? Am I the leader of this group? Jake certainly had the idea that I was. As far as I was concerned, right up to the point in time where I looked into Terry’s eyes and saw the emotional and physical toll that the crash had subjected him to, I wasn’t the leader of our group. Sure, I took on a leadership role in some things. I was better at some things than others in the group so it made sense. But, am I the leader? Do I deserve to be the leader? Do we really need a single leader? After all, we’re a family. Does a family have to have a leader – in the political or military sense?
I assumed that we all just sort of chipped in where we could. We leaned on those with skills or expertise in certain areas when we needed to do so. Yeah, I know what happens when you assume. We’ve never really discussed this subject as a family, though.
Ultimately, our closer association with our neighbors will probably be the catalyst. Now, it’s no longer “just family”. Now, it’s several families. Do we simply try to coordinate our activities where our common interests lie or do we need to establish a leadership structure? Will there be anarchy without leadership or is our common goal strong enough to draw us together?
It wasn’t strong enough with Jake, that’s for sure.
Is Jake just the ten percent, though? What I mean is … if we create a leadership structure simply because there might be another Jake out there, are we governing for the exception rather than those that make up the bulk of our new society? If we are governing for, or because of, the exception, is that the right thing to do?
How many societies throughout history have survived … or flourished without a traditional leadership system of some sort? Right now, I can’t think of any. Probably too many other more urgent matters on my plate. Maybe Joseph can think of some.
Terry looked up from his study of the pallets’ wood grain.
“You’re right, David, I need to know for sure.”
“I figured as much,” I replied.
“Either we do it as a part of our recon mission or I do it myself …” Terry began.
“You’re not doing it yourself,” I cut him off. “We’re in this together. If you need to go, you’ll go with support. That’s the only way we’ll survive … only if we all stick together.”
Terry nodded and looked off in the distance.
“Thanks, David, you’re doing a great job.”
“A great job?” I asked. “At what?”
“At keeping us alive,” Terry responded. “You were the one that suggested we prepare ourselves. You’ve been the one who’s done most of the dirty work.”
“I guess I have a knack for that,” I admitted.
“Not many do …” Terry’s voice trailed off.
“Look,” I said, “if we’re going after your kids, we need to map it all out. Who knows what we’ll find … on the way there or when we get there.”
“Yeah, the radio reports don’t sound promising,” Terry sighed.
“You have to take those with a grain of salt,” I was trying to sound encouraging but I’m not sure it came off that way.
“Come find me when you finish your shift,” I said. “Let’s get this thing planned so we can saddle up and get it done.”
I left Terry alone with his thoughts and headed back to the cabin. I needed to sift through a few thoughts of my own. I needed to have a plan in my head when we pulled everyone together to map out our little road trip. Everyone would look to me to take the lead … or so it seemed.
That’s pretty much the way it worked out. We gathered in the yard of our big cabin at the picnic table. It was a fine spring day. The sky was cloudless. The temperature was near 70. We should have been enjoying ourselves. Instead, we were planning a trip … no, we were planning a mission … that could very well end with every one of us dead. Our plan is as good as it can be. There is so much that we don’t know that it’s hard to think of every potentiality. Tomorrow, we saddle up and head south. I don’t have time to record all the details of the plan right now. There’s too much to do before we leave in the morning. Maybe I’ll record some of the details when we get back … if we get back.
I’m really starting to hate the new normal.