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A Paratrooper’s Guide to the Liberal Arts

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If your immediate reaction is skepticism, hear me out. We should all be aware by now that succeeding in life, professionally and personally, is predicated on more than competence. No matter how skilled you may be, you will find more opportunities if you are also a personable, interesting individual. Your ideas might revolutionize the world, but they are unlikely to gain traction with anyone if you have the personality of a rock. By now, we realize that few people have any interest in hearing about “what it’s really like” or how to headspace and time a .50 cal, and I know that most of us would prefer to avoid discussing how closely Hurt Locker resembled our time overseas. Nor do the more specialized subjects, like finance or engineering, computer science or business strategy, make for the best happy hour talk with those who are not involved with those specializations. To lead fulfilling lives, we need to be able to engage with diverse groups of people, from professionals in other fields to attractive strangers when out on the town. Neither discussion of the Haqquani network nor barracks talk will do. Small talk gets your foot in the door, but what sort of topics might cast a flattering light upon you and add depth to the conversation? I would suggest the arts serve this purpose well, whether literature, philosophy, fine art or what have you.

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