Am I overdone, emotional? Is it only the impact of the strenuous conditions upon a frame unfitted by nature and its career for present hardship? It may be that there is nothing on the barrack square which can injure a wholesome man. I do not swear the contrary. Perhaps:-- but recollect I am coming through easier than my companions. Alone of the hut I’ve energy at the moment to protest. If time has made me more worn than them, also it has made me deeper. Man’s emotions, like water plants, sprout far-rooted from his basic clay pushfully into the light. If very luxuriant they dam life’s current. But these fellows’ feelings, because of their youngness, seem like shallops on a river, splashly important, but passing without trace, leaving their surface clean, weedless, purling over the sunlit stones. Whereas to root out one of my thoughts—what upstirring of mud, what rending of fibre in the darkness.
I am not frightened of our instructors, nor of their overdriving. To comprehend why we are their victims is to rise above them. Yet despite my background of achievement and understanding, despite my willingness (quickened by a profound dissatisfaction with what I am) that the R.A.F. should bray me and re-mould me after its pattern : still I want to cry out that this our long-drawn punishing can subserve neither beauty nor use.
Excerpt from T.E.Lawrence, The Mint (published 1955)