You get on the bus. It’s just for show, the bus only takes you about 200 meters into Tel Hashomer Base; you and all the others enlisting with you can just as easily walk. But it means something to get on that bus, for your family to see you doing it. It’s the last time they’ll see you as a civilian. You’ll come home that night or the following week or month in uniform. A soldier. You look behind you and smile, then you take a seat.
You come home that night and the uniform you have on is green and crisp and new. You look awkward wearing it. You’re not really a soldier, not yet, only by name. I look at this picture of you fourteen years later and there’s so much you don’t know, so much I want to tell you to make the following years easier for you. To put you more at ease. The truth is, I don’t remember you at that age anymore. I don’t remember what you were like. I don’t know how much of you was you back then, and how much of you was built over the following two or five or even eight years.
You’re going to have a hard time. You’re embarking on probably the hardest journey of your life. You might go through harder things later on, but you’ll be better prepared for them; better prepared than you were on March 14, 2002 for your military service.
I don’t want to tell you what’s going to happen to you. That’s not what this is for. In three days you’ll start a week-long physical and mental test to be accepted into the Shayetet unit, the Israeli Naval Commandos. Your dream. You have doubts and you have fears, I know. You’re not sure you’ll be able to get in, you’re not even sure if you’ll be able to finish the week. All you really want is to feel good about yourself by the end, to know you didn’t give up and that you gave it your all. You want your mom and dad to be proud of you, and you know they are, but still. You know this is a far-fetched dream but it’s within reach, and just as much as there’s a good chance you won’t make it, there’s a chance you will. Maybe you’ll pass the test, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have other chances later on, maybe not. You might be a Commando, you might not be. But if you’re getting this letter from yourself fourteen years in the future, at least you know you made it out of your military service in one piece, and that’s something too.
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