David said today as we watched the ceremonies at Fort Leonard Wood “I would pay money to watch you go through Marine boot camp”. Yeah, I admit I’m sure it would be quite comical.
I told Dakota (nephew that just finished military police school) that I imagine it is quite the gift to know yourself and your limits in this way. It is the standard by which other hurdles in life will be measured. And then I realized that I/we all have those measurements. It may not be boot camp, but our struggles and overcoming victories give us context and strength, belief and absolute courage. You know the battles- the ones that just crossed your mind. The relationship pain, the hurt, the betrayal, your health, the disappointment, the recovery, the heartache, the loss…they have taught you that you you’re a survivor.
At the Marine Military Graduation we attended today, we were privileged to hear Commanding Officer Colonel George W. Markert V as guest speaker. His charge to the marines (but applicable to us all)-
1. Be tough and work hard. (the weather, your mood, family and circumstances will give opportunity for you to live out COURAGE).
2. Have fun and maintain a good sense of humor. (Your ETHOS should motivate people around you, not the other way around)
3. Be a LEADER, a WARRIOR and always PROFESSIONAL
He said at the end, “Recognize and count the small victories”
Firsts are amazing, aren’t they? I experienced the first snow of this season yesterday. I admit I’m easily amazed, but the newness of the white covering the ground seems like a clean slate full of possibility and redemption. What firsts do you remember? Do you remember that first taste of coffee? Or seeing your first snowfall? Or maybe your first family vacation? What about that first interaction with your love? The leap in our heart stays with us and is stamped and coded for easy recall, giving us courage for the future new experiences to come, while keeping us lightly tethered to something meaningful in our past.
But undoubtedly, this gift of remembering can be misused. It could become an escape, a coping mechanism, a retreat from the present, instead of emboldening us with gritty determination. I don’t think remembering is meant to be an escape to past”safety”, nor is it meant to carry us away in the unknown allurement of the future. So how is this gift used?
Presence is a tricky thing, don’t you think? It’s always moving. It is the power of time and love combined. Just typing these words mean they have in this space of time become the past. It’s a weird concept. But in the present we carry the sum of our physical, spiritual, emotional and mental experiences of what has been up to this point. This makes us comfortable and cozy amidst our good memories. They are strong, fierce, warm and nostalgic. We don’t have to work for them to come back into our thoughts. But maybe the reminiscing is not the focus. Maybe it is meant to be like a background color on a portrait painting. It’s chosen to enhance the subject of “the present” to be even more inviting, more alluring, more understood, more. It gives context. It’s a code for understanding so that as we move into time, we understand it is to be prized, precious and gratitude-filled.
Memory is a powerful force. It can be the elixir of courage we need in the present moment. It can be the faint aroma that ignites part of us that we’ve forgotten, but need to know still exists.