Baker, James

Letter
Date:
March 7, 1942
To:
Mom
From:
Jim
March 7th. 1942

Dear Mom,

Well another week seems to have slipped by and I just awakened to the fact that I have not written to you for over a week. I have just finished a letter to Mary Beverly and in it I commented upon the fact that time seems to flow past endlessly in here and I seem to live in a perpetual dream of contentment with occasional bursts of activity and concentration. You see, I am studying and reading and learning all the time. I am always busy and therefore there never seems to be enough time in which I can find to study. I find I am beginning to grudge the time that I must spend in working and exercise and eating. And Mary is an immense help, for she is a person like you whom I can talk and write openly all about the little problems that continually perplex me. She doesn't always answer them but she certainly helps a lot by acting as a target at which I can hurl all my thoughts. And she has an immense advantage over you because she can answer questions inside a week, whereas you can only answer after 2 months or so and sometimes I have forgotten the questions by the time your answer arrives or more probably, I have already settled it to my own satisfaction. That - I realize, is a clear disadvantage to you.

I want to apologize for my last letter. I can't remember exactly what I said because I wrote it in the midst of blind anger (Yes, I was very angry for it seemed to me at the time that I was being attacked most unfairly) but I have come to realize since that I have indeed wasted a good deal of my time over here. In fact, it strikes me that the only time that has been really profitable to me has been the time I have spent in hospital, for there I have had a chance to pursue the only three things that I really enjoy, reading, writing and studying. By studying I mean thinking, digesting and discussing. The rest of the time outside I have been very prodigal-with indeed. I have read and thought in the Army of course, but I think I was really more interested in looking forward to the next time I could slip away to London to see my friends, trying to forget the whole of Army existence; if only for a moment. I have come to realize that I am out of place in the Army - at least in the infantry that I have chosen for my sphere of action. The whole of my mental outlook, environment and thinking is antagonistic to life as it is thought of by the Army. I am strongly individualistic and that more strongly than most people I think. I love solitude (perhaps more than I should) and it is impossible to obtain solitude and individuality in the Army, at least in the lower stratas of it. That is one reason why I think I want to become an officer. I feel that there I shall enjoy a greater measure of freedom - not freedom from a sense of duty for I realize that the responsibilities and duties of an officer are very heavy, but freedom from a sense of frustration and worthlessness which seems to pervade the whole atmosphere in which I work just now. In fact, it is that very lack of responsibility that I am protesting against. I would welcome duty and responsibility. I do not think I am boasting when I say that I possess the qualities of leadership and it is because I feel my qualities are being so wasted that I am so impatient. And my friends do not make it any easier by passing comments upon the waste of my abilities. You see, I have no knowledge of how to bring myself to the attention of the ‘powers that be' so my abilities can be recognized and it is in that respect that I have wasted my time I think. I also think that it is in that attitude that you wrote the note to which I took exception in my last letter. I had rather hoped that the psychological test which I took some time ago (the one I told you about) would be the cue but seemingly it wasn't, for I have heard nothing more about it and I happen to know the special aptitude which the officer in charge put down was "Well educated, bright, interesting personality, should be useful in a clerical capacity". Well, I know that I could never be satisfied as a clerk because my ambition would not let me be content and consequently my work would suffer. It seems I have been wasting my time impressing the wrong people. I hope you don't think from all this rambling discourse that I am becoming "swelled headed" and egotistical. I don't think I am. I think it is more that I have gained confidence in my own abilities and therefore am eager to test them. I only hope I can get the chance. I know that a great proverb among successful men is that they created their own opportunities but I don't think that that could hold true in the Army. Here, it seems to be a matter of luck and pull as well as personal ability. So far I have not been lucky, for every time I was due for promotion, I have had an accident and have had to come to hospital and have therefore missed my chance. But surely my luck cannot be eternally bad. So I am going back to try again. I guess there is not much more I can say. So far as I can tell now, I should be out of hospital very soon. I have been out of bed for a week now and am feeling much stronger. The doctor is recommending me for leave and I am determined to go to Wales.
I guess that's all for now

Love as always,

Jim


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