“All my life I’ve been chasing something, I feel fate breathing down my neck. If the road I’m on somehow leads me nowhere, no retreats men, no regrets.”-The Parlor Mob
Over the last 12 years, I’ve been asked on multiple occasions for advice. From relationships to medicine, my friends and even complete strangers come to me seeking guidance.This astounds me in that, not even counting my extensive list of character flaws, I rarely feel like I’m one to give my two cents on much without being an incredibly massive hypocrite.
Upon concluding both of my enlistments, I was fortunate enough to be approached by my junior Marines as I ran out the door before it hit me in the ass. They were hungry for one more morsel of wit and wisdom from yours truly. They wanted to know, if I could tell them ONE THING that could help them in their careers, combat, or life in general, what would I tell them? My reply is and always has been, “Always put one foot in front of the other.”
If the above has you scratching your head, allow me to expatiate on this:
In all facets of life, be it work, relationships, or combat, there will be obstacles that stand between us and our goals. Life is full of those events that just seem to slow us down. Sometimes, they just trip us up a little. Other times, they level us. Yes, there’s even times when something comes along, knocks us down, and then proceeds to curb stomp our teeth in. Breakups, makeups, empty bank accounts, unemployment, health (or lack thereof), family, booze, pills, sex, bills, the list goes on and on. These are all part of the process recently. Blame who you want or what you want, fault is irrelevant. What IS imperative is that you put one foot in front of the other and carry on. As long as you are moving forward in your life, no matter at what pace, you are winning like Charlie Sheen on Tigers’ Blood.
Our time in the military has prepared us for these events, perhaps not directly, but nonetheless we are gifted with the mindset to persevere. There have definitely been times in my life when I certainly couldn’t see the finish line. I sat at my kitchen table dumping out and counting change from a jar to get groceries. This was a sad time in my life when I was barely scraping by. But, that’s where I decided that BARELY scraping by was better than NOT scraping by. Not because I accept mediocrity or the bare minimum in my life but, I was still working and going to school and thusly, still moving FORWARD.
That job you applied for didn’t call you back? Call them. You didn’t get the job? Apply for another. Tired of deployment? Does it all seem pointless and repetitive? Just focus on putting one foot in front the to the other. No matter how slow and awkward your steps, forward is always the correct direction. As long as you keep trying, you’re doing the right thing. You don’t have to get there today, you just have to get there eventually.
I know this all sounds like trite, cliche motivational speak but, I believe this mental fortitude is lost on our society these days. We live in a “microwave culture” where everything has to be as fast and efficient as possible. People want gratification, and they want it yesterday, with as little effort as possible. This is an enticing notion, sure. But, it breeds weakness and laziness. When the going gets tough for most, the most go to bed and stay there. No matter how many T-shirts and bumper stickers they read, failure is the end for most. Giving up when things get difficult is acceptable to people these days. It’s not the time of our grandparents and great-grandparents, if something was broke or didn’t work, you laced up your boots and tried to find a way to fix it. The thing I try to portray to those around me is that failure is just an opportunity to ask “what’s next?” Failure to me, should be the chance to try something different.
The next time you’re obsessing about that bottle of pills or your ex-girlfriend, remember, that isn’t the way forward. Put one foot in front of the other and never give up.
Dedicated to Clay and E.B.