The Manly Art of... Carrying On!

I'm supposed to give a presentation to a large group on "Gaining Strength... Through Experience." Funny... I don't think you necessarily gain strength through all experiences. Sometimes I believe you lose part of yourself that you can never get back. Not really the "motivation" I think they are expecting from me.

But if you truly give yourself to a cause or an effort can you honestly say that it has always been worth it? That the time and the sweat and the tears and the blood were given toward a worthy cause? Sometimes you just need to have the strength and experience to do something that needs to be done and because no one else is stepping forward and doing it.

Don't you feel it to be a little immature to have the notion that you MUST gain something from everything? Sometimes you just have to give that extra effort and sacrifice that time and spill that blood and sweat for no other reason than you KNOW it's what you should do.

Some may call it soldiering on... trudging forward... putting one foot in front of the other... or, you know... Carrying ON!

There is a notion to classify any mistakes we make as "experience" and any successes we run into as "education".  If I were to show you a copy of my life's resume you would see that I am very HEAVY on experience. Lots and lots of experience!! I've got the scars to prove it.

I know scars... deep scars that will never go away. We all have scars of some sort. My Chief Master Sgt was my mentor in the military and went to dive school with me early in my career so that we could re-certify. When he came out to the pool for the first day I saw a constellation of scars across his chest and shoulders. I was only 23 and just beginning my career.

My buddy, who has no qualms about saying whatever pops into his head, mouthed off... "DAMN! It looks like you've had your ass kicked a few times!" He laughed at himself.

The old Warrior sat down next to the young warrior and smiled at him and said, "I probably have had my ass kicked a few times, but all of my scars are in the front..." then he gave the young pup a pat on his shoulder and trudged off to the pool.

Think about it... you know what he was trying to explain to us! He never ran... never backed down... never took his face from the wind... never stopped carrying on!

So I may have a lot of marks and scars... but I've tried to make sure they are all in the front. You can't carry on if you're running away! You can't!

And sometimes, it stops being about the flag on your shoulder or the "cause" and more about that person standing there in the breach with you. The one who is standing back-to-back with you through the the longest nights. You won't run, because you know they won't.

I didn't realize it but my Chief left a trail for me to follow and now I find myself passing this information on to my children. Last summer when I took my kids to a swim party at the YMCA I took my shirt off and carried my twins into the pool to help them become more comfortable with the crowded pool.

Standing in the pool with a kid hanging on each arm my son Calvin starts poking his fingers on the spots where there are scars... "Dad, what are these spots and lines?"

"Those are just scars, son."

"You have a lot of them."

"Only on the front, son."

Enjoy these two clips. They come the closest I have found to the way things really are and should be.
I will post a copy of my presentation here on Monday. I still have to "wrestle out" a few of the details.
Go do something MANLY!


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