My uncle Tony was more like a big brother than an uncle. I was about 13 years old when he joined the Marines. I made a decision to follow his path. As soon as I was old enough I would join too. I was sixteen and a half when I completed my paperwork. I had to wait until I was 17 so my mother could sign for me. Then I could get a physical and be sworn in. On January 12, my birthday, mom signed. On the 13th I passed the physical, was sworn in. On the 14th I flew to The Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. On the 15th I was sure I had made a mistake.
Everyone had been so nice. Helping me. Being patient with me. I walked the terminal and found my way to the designated area where I was met by a military representative. Others joined us there and we were loaded on a bus to be transported to the base. I was excited and apprehensive. When we arrived we were given instructions on how to exit the bus and what to do next. I took notice of a serious change in attitude. The good guys disappeared.
The people barking out orders were not nice. They addressed us men as ladies and sweethearts. Sarcastically, I might add. Some of the guys weren’t moving fast enough to suits these men wearing Smokey Bear Hats. So, they surrounded some of the men shouting in their face and ears. I didn’t like it. Not at all. I had the feeling I had been misled. This didn’t look like the time of my life. Even my uncle Tony, who was no longer on active duty, didn’t tell me about all this. I was having a Private Benjamin moment. Those Drill Instructors got my attention.
WE DECIDE WHAT’S IMPORTANT!
Perhaps nothing says more about us than what we give our attention to. From cultural distinctions to our funny bones we are diverse. Serious issues, such as faith or politics, keep some engulfed while others could care less. Some expect to earn what they get and others expect everything for free. Selfishness and generosity vie for our attention. One thing I’ve observed about happy people is, they give attention to things of substance!
This business about “do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” has a lot of play in it. Sometimes we are just too impatient with difference. But, indifference carries its own poison. My journey into the military was a defining moment. Lesson number one became very clear; don’t run from anything, always be running toward something. I got away from many things I wanted to get away from, but, I landed squarely in some things I didn’t want. Some things I didn’t know enough about to know I didn’t want them.
NEVER TOO LATE FOR PROGRESS!
The addendum to lesson one is; Knowing what you don’t want is one thing. Knowing what you do want is another. Hate gets terrible gas milage. Burns up precious energy and requires constant attention. Dissatisfaction drains vibrancy. It’s deceitfully occupying and the pay is horrible.
I have things that make me feel alive. Things that excite me. Make me want to jump out of bed in the morning. I want more of those things. The things that give me life are the things I’m paying attention too.
What has your attention?