You wake up at 8 a.m. You get ready for work, you grip the steering wheel and yawn into your coffee cup. You shuffle through papers at your desk and you look out the window at the world shuffling through people on the sidewalk. You come home and maybe there’s food waiting for you, maybe there’s a dog happy that you’re home, maybe not. You watch the television and dive into an emotionally charged series with dragons and empires, or hackers and revolutions. But you pay no mind–the show is interesting, but it’s not real life. Those are other worlds.

This is real life:

You wake up at 8 a.m. the next morning. You put on the tie or the hard-hat and you yawn into your coffee cup. You grind it out. Every day you grind it out and every day it’s the same.

You remember the old days. Maybe you talk about them with your friends over beers, maybe with your wife as she cycles through titles on TV to figure out what to watch next. You speak of days that, for some reason, just matter more than the days do now. If you were to hold them side by side, those old days would be so much bigger than the small days defined by that daily, repetitive grind.

Oh man. Those were the days when you held a rifle in your hand and dirt was embedded into your palms. Those were the days when you pushed your body and your spirit to the edge, and perhaps even a little further. They were the days of blood and tears, and the days when you realized the value of values themselves–loyalty, patriotism, brotherhood.

You wake up at 8 a.m. the next morning. You grip the steering wheel and yawn into your coffee cup. You listen to your boss, maybe he’s talking about church or maybe he’s talking about how many chicks he’s banged in the last month. Both seem to believe in their causes just the same. You come home and think of the good old days. Maybe your wife finds something on TV, or maybe you find it yourself as your dog sits next to you and peers out the window into the daylight as it drifts away.

You watch the television as the main character is pushed to the brink of his own existence, and just for a moment, he screams. He lets it out, just for a second. He’s in a war, be it a war with the evil forces in the world or a war with himself. He’s been beaten, scarred, battered and shamed. Maybe he’s seen thousands killed or maybe his mind has been twisted beyond recognition. He’s had a harder life than anyone you’ve ever met.

And a part of you envies him.