How many crucibles have you been in through your life?
I’ve been in loads, probably more than I can remember!
One of the big ones when I joined the Royal Navy, the UK had a lot of ships then.
I arrived at the new entry training establishment HMS Fisgard, where I started my training to become an artificer. An artificer is someone who can fix anything on a ship; as you may guess that’s a lot of knowledge to know. There were different branches, for weapons, electronics, aircraft, and for me marine engineering. I’m digressing.
We were driven though the main gates to the parade ground, we were all asked to disembark, straight into the crucible, the orders started, get in line, names where called and we put into groups, then the welcome and then off to our mess blocks. My crucible was getting filled with strange orders, new rules, new faces. If they were like me, they were being very brave but scared inside, these thoughts were also added to the crucible. We met our seniors, they had either been in the Navy of a whole 4 or 8 months, they felt so senior, they deserved respect, another thought for the crucible.
After the first scary night sleeping in a room with 30 or 40 others, time for breakfast, I didn’t have a uniform yet and still long hair, ridicule in the dining hall, more for the crucible. Time for a haircut, I liked my long hair, of all the things that changed in those first few weeks, the first haircut was the most shocking, it wasn’t a US Marine cut, it was short but not that short, it was succumbing to someone else’s rules, it felt like an assault on my personality; more for the crucible. Then I had to put a uniform on, more for the crucible.
As you may guess many things were added to my new entry crucible, as with all crucibles the ingredients are heated to extreme temperatures to form something else from the raw ingredients. If it all goes well something uniform will be produced, sometimes it doesn’t work and its discarded. My entry started with 273 young men, after the first year there was only 150 left, the others had decided to leave and pursue another life.
Perhaps another crucible stopped me from quitting, the one that contained the shame and ridicule of failure. I pushed on for 22 years, I was successful in the navy but never felt I really belonged there, that fear of failure crucible just kept me going.
These crucibles that I’m describing are the pivotal points in my life that make me what I am now. If I could revisit them now I guess I would do things differently. In many of these crucibles I did things that I didn’t really want to do, I went with the flow for an easy life so I didn’t get noticed, some never felt right. Unfortunately many need to do things they know are wrong in their societal rules just to survive another day, luckily I have never needed to do anything like that. Hopefully you haven’t either.
I’m now careful what I put in my crucible, in fact I don’t know if I have one at the moment. I guess they just happen without anyone noticing, it’s only on reflection that they can be identified at some pivotal point in your life.
My plan now is to take each moment at a time and be happy to say no if I don’t like or want to do something, be content that I don’t know what is going to happen but have a strong intention to enjoy life, have fun and let the crucible of failure go.
What’s your plan?