E Plurubus Unum, Rex Montis

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Live Like You Were Dying

I turn 29 this year. Of course, this gets one to thinking about one's accomplishments thus far. More importantly it's my last year in my 20's. Without being egotistical, I've probably seen and done more in my last 10 years than most people will in a lifetime. What will my next 10 look like?

When we were in the sand box we all talked incessently about all the things we would do if we made it out alive. To date, I have done almost everything on my bucket list.
Granted, some of those things were merely to kiss my wife every day, drink a beer, eat a pizza, enjoy running water, not complain about the small things, embrace the moment etc.

HOWEVER. I wonder how an average person would live the next month of their life if they knew they were dying.

"Over there," that was every day. Not much was done differently. Rather, things were done indifferently. How do you motivate someone to do what you want them to do, and who could die at any second? Promises of pleasures at the end of deployment? Threats of what could happen to you if you don't obey? Nope. Many an officer has attempted to break my old unit. Wo to them. They only wound up getting broken themselves. Litterally.

So what motivates a person to truely live? It is the inspiration of someone who acts out what they believe, someone who does the right thing when no one is looking. One who leads by example. One who embraces the suck along with their brother. One who does what needs doing, whatever that means. One who inspires you to have the back of your brother, because brothers are all you have. I tell you, that these are not just poetic words. I have known real men like this, who not only motivate a person to live, but if necessary, to die. This isn't just inspiration, it is earth shattering. Not a movie, not a story book, not a tale told at a bar. It is not just flowery words that can make men do what they do not wish to do, it is action, example and brotherhood. If only the man in every marriage and family could exemplify this standard. The world would be a more consistant place. In the world we live in, that is the best we can hope for.

I hope I can be that to my family, but these days I just feel like I'm going through the motions. That is probably because to be honest, life is a whole lot harder than war. There are so many petty things, so much drama and so much heart-ache. The battlefield is one thing...Walmart is a whole different kind of hell.

I made a bucket list while I was in Iraq. I swore if I made it back alive I would do some specific things with my life.
1. I would get out of the army for good
2. I would find a small community and settle down for a quiet life
3. I would get a job and be everything I could be for my family
4. My battle buddy and I would work together in the same small community
5. Same buddy and I would head to my childhood cabin in the boundary waters
6. When 1-5 were complete I would continue living the American dream while additionally embracing life, loving more, and enjoying the little things we take for granted.
7. Eat all the marshmellows out of a box of Lucky Charms (my wonderful wife set this up by the lake one day last year)
8. Refuse to sugar coat life any more than necessary. Be honest, be clear, be real. Be yourself. (oh this has backlash to be sure, but there is something so refreshing about being real. Living without an inner monolog has many advantages and disadvantages, but baby I'm LIVING!)

Now that all those items are complete I am almost at a loss for what to do next. I will be jumping out of a plane very soon (with a chute). After that, who knows? I wouldn't mind some input from my readers as to what you would do within reason if you knew you had only a month to live? We all die, and for the most part, few of us know when. To me, that makes this great adventure we call life all the more enjoyable.

I look around at my generation and am absolutely baffled at how many people are still not truely living.

Here's a toast to living life to it's absolute fullest.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I Miss My War

I just finished reading an article online in “Esquire,” titled: I Miss Iraq. I Miss My Gun. I Miss My War. Written by Esquire writer and war veteran Brian Mockenhaupt.

As I read it I realized I could just have easily been the author. The writer was spot-on in so many areas.
One point rang home overall. “War is easy, you go out, survive, come back and do it all again the next day, no bills to pay, no chores to do…”

How could I miss being in a country I hated? Perhaps it is that I don’t miss the war that was ugly and horrible, but the one that was alive and exciting. Where you could die at any moment, but didn’t.

I also realized there is a reason that I am suddenly enamored by zombie, end of the world and apocalypse movies and books; I am missing a piece of the action, I am longing for a small adrenaline rush like a junkie looking for the next fix.

The writer noted the sound of racking a live round into a chamber before going on a raid. That description absolutely resonated with me. In my life there will be nothing that compares to that sound. Within that moment are packed so many memories of my firsts: My first patrol in country, my first raid, my first shot fired in country, the first time I got shot at, the first time we got ambushed, my first sniper hide, the first time I put cross-hairs on a human face and tracked his nasal cavity, the first time I kicked a door in…all of these firsts had the same thing in common, they were all preceded by a bolt slamming a live round into a chamber.

I know many vets feel the same. I know I am not alone.

I love God, family and country. I love running water. I love pizza. I love beer. I love so many things in this life. I also hate many things. Yet, in some small way, I would be lying to myself if I didn’t also say, I love war.