“When you are not pursuing your goal, you are literally committing spiritual suicide.”

—Les Brown

Actively pursue your dreams.

There, I said it. Easy enough, right? No. Let me elaborate by taking it back a few years:

I’m contracting stateside, getting paid rather well, above par benefits, four days off a week, 40cal on my hip, AR in my hand . . .  and inching closer and closer to suicide.

“Fuck, I can’t do that,” I’d say.  “I have a model for a wife and an incredible little girl who is my whole world. The fuck would they do without me? I’ll be damned if I’m not going to be there and raise her.” I’d continue, “So I guess this is it then. Live out my days while trying to hide my depression and become all the more bitter in the process.”

Despite having a good job, I was on that downward spiral. Some of you know it—know it all too well: Drinking and adrenaline rushes. My rush came from hitching rides on paramedic trucks. This was so I could “help others,” or was it feel something? Both, I hope. I do know that I wanted to make the world a better place, and I was convinced a very specific line of work was the only way to do it.

I may have a few screws loose, but I damn sure know there is more to life than living angry and depressed 24/7 with the only respite being a medic truck or an orgasm. If you are finding this hauntingly relatable, than I plea the following: You need to make the decision now— keep living this way, or change direction and find a new purpose. For me, this was particularly hard because I believed that for some reason I was expected to stay in the lead-farming work. I was good at it. I felt that if I wasn’t a warrior then I would just merely exist and waste my potential. Now, knowing otherwise, I’m suggesting you chase after your dreams of being or doing whatever it is that makes you happy. Throw all your cards on the table, max bet, and then sprint toward your goal.

I’ve never felt more alive, and I’ve never worked harder at trying to make a dream become a reality since receiving my St. Joseph’s Nursing school acceptance letter. Yep, you heard me right. Who knew there was life outside the gun world?! Or in healthcare??

It isn’t all sunshine and roses, of course. I still have everything to lose. But even with such a risk, it’s a damn good feeling—and fuck is it liberating. Yeah, nursing school is no joke; average about four hours of sleep a night, spent $1300 for one semester on books and I’m buried in assignments that are due before class each day. I’m surrounded by kids that were two years old when 9/11 happened. My classmates don’t get it nor will they probably ever, which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing, mind you. But this shit is great. Smiling from ear to ear. For the first time in years, I am truly happy.

As always, articles like these don’t apply to everybody. But to those who it does, know that these words are simply the ones I wish someone had dared utter my way a long time ago. To those who it does apply: Do we want to feel empty inside? Become bitter, hateful, or resentful toward the ones who love us? Alllllll those GWOT bumper stickers, reliving the memories of how fucking awesome and tough we are, yet angry inside for never having chased our deepest ambitions?

If so, keep chugging along and convincing yourself that the best years of your life were overseas in some sandbox.

If not, challenge yourself. Go outside of your comfort zone. Push past the limits that you had set for yourself, and take on a new adventure. Doing so is finding new purpose. By doing the things that you are truly passionate about, you aren’t just heading into “work” in the mornings (at least not every time).

There is no denying it, if that calling for you is carrying a gun, then be the best at it and shine on you crazy diamond. But I do feel obliged to suggest that many of us, myself included, have been looking for permission from someone or somewhere to break the stereotypical mold of the GWOT Vet. So hang up the Velcro patch hat, put your Molle pack in the closet, stop acting like a SME on global affairs, pop a Valium and settle your ass down High Speed. And maybe breaking free from such a thing is scary in its own right, being that it seems to demand you find something by abandoning something else. It isn’t that way. You, appreciated reader, may just need to realize a new purpose is out there, and how the new can never kill the old. It many ways it’s just the same energy changing forms. Once done, pursuit is easy.

Realizing purpose: that is how we find happiness. And I’m just some guy here, folks. A friend and a fan and a brother. If I can find new purpose and then chase it, then I believe you can too.

Mr. Happy

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