Jump

Originally, this was posted January 15, 2016 – a few days before I received my DD-214 marking my official retirement from the Army after 20 years’ service… Since then it has been improved upon a bit…
IMG_6712.JPG
Hoist training, Oahu, 2009.
“…That’s why I don’t believe you can fail. You only fail if you give up. The second you decide ‘Aw, I’m not gonna do it’… ‘Aw, I’ll just give up’, that’s YOU making that choice. You’re the one choosing to fail. You have to make the decision to fail. Whereas, if you don’t ever make that decision, you say ‘No… I’m just going to keep on going until it friggin’ happens’, well, then you don’t fail. You’re just in the process of making it happen.” Jeb Corliss (@ 8:58)

“Eventually you are going to have to jump. You cannot just exist in this life. You have got to try to live. If you are waking up thinking that there’s gotta be more to your life than it is, man believe that it is… But to get to that life you’re gonna have to jump.” Steve Harvey @ 0:23
“If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted… in one moment… would you capture it, or just let it slip?” Eminem “Lose Yourself”
Jeb Corliss… Steve Harvey… Eminem… All provide good points.
Around this time, twenty years ago, I was poised to jump.

At the time, I lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in a perpetual state of being one paycheck away from being homeless and one paycheck past having money for luxuries such as heating oil. It took several major life events to remind me that my time on Earth was a lot more finite than I would like to believe and a random conversation with a vacationing Apache pilot set in motion the events which would lead me to jump to the career I am about to leave.

I could spend this time reminiscing about the path that has brought me to this particular point, but that is not the purpose of this post, nor does it fit the theme presented by the three quotes above. Instead, I choose to remind the reader of one simple truth implied, but not directly mentioned by Jeb, Steve, and Marshall: every day is a jump.

It’s not about transitioning from Active Duty to retirement, and the idea of jumping isn’t about that one major decision of left or right at the various forks in the road that life presents to you. To jump is to work every day on improvement, sustainment, and enrichment towards those moments. To continue to try… to continue to do more than exist… to capture every experience, tool, and friendship that will result in a life well-lived and a legacy fondly recalled.

It doesn’t matter if it is something as mundane as attending a conference, preparing to go to the next level of professional development, or even the routine of daily interaction with your child, they are all steps towards a moment where you think you need to jump…

…But in retrospect, you already did.

Safe landings…


Adding to this was something I submitted on Quora to the question of “How often do you doubt yourself?”

From time to time, doubt creeps in:

“What am I doing?

“Do I know what the hell I’m about?”

“Am I self-delusional?”

Ecetera…

Then I remember a couple of quotes:

[omitted the Corliss quote due to redundancy]

“I looked at the ice cream scoop in my hand, my chocolate bespattered apron, and my future in the world of minimum wage work… Or I could go up to New York and audition for this crazy band who was my favorite… What’s the worst is going to happen to me? I miss a day of work? Ooh… There goes 21 bucks… and I get humiliated in front of my favorite band. Yeah humiliation and young people kind of go together – I was used to it.” [2]

The first one starts at 8:58 – Jeb Corliss’ views on failure. The second starts at 2:10 – Henry Rollins on the moment he decided to join Black Flag.

I have had moments of doubt hit me at inopportune times: performing duties as an instructor in the Army, conducting hoist training missions in garrison (non-deployed status), and even when I was in the process of doing CPR on a patient as we rushed him to Balad from the wreckage of his HMMWV after it was hit by a roadside IED:

“What am I doing?

“Do I know what the hell I’m about?”

“Am I self-delusional?”

Then there is suddenly no time for those thoughts. What I was trained to do, the task at hand, and my attention all went right back to the moment and those which followed because, despite my doubts… despite my questions… the thing I was most afraid of was not the answer of “Uh, nope” but of failing the people who relied on me… the fear of failing myself. You drive on and question later, if at all.

If you doubt yourself, occupy yourself in a way that leaves no doubt that who you are, what you are doing, and the potential you are fulfilling is a all work in progress.

Doubt and fear will kill you. Either it will cause that moment of hesitation or indecision at the worst possible time, or it will kill your soul with endless ponderings of the chances and opportunities you passed on.

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