Life certainly has its ways of throwing curveballs. Sometimes it’s a dramatic, one-time event that feels like a blow to your life, energy and very soul. Sometimes it chips away, day after day, minor events that are but drops in the bucket when they’re thrown at you one by one — however, they often threaten to culminate into a tidal wave of misery. Falling short of your goals, missing schedules, or tragic failures can crush a day, a week or even a year.
And as they say, when it rains — it pours.
Combat is the epitome of hardship in many ways, but it also has its luxuries (if you can call them that). A sense of simplicity is one of them — nothing else in the world matters in the midst of a firefight than simply getting yourself and your buddies through it, completing whatever objective you’re there to do. A lot of guys miss that simplicity when they return home.
Another “luxury” is that it forces you to adapt and overcome. Survival instincts kick in when the bullets are flying; training also kicks in if you have enough of it. And neither of those are going to allow you to give up. If there is a problem, you can’t just sit there and stare at it in despair. If someone is shot, you finish the fight then return to treat them. If you’re supposed to kick down a door, and as you kick you realize it’s a shoddy, wooden Afghan door, and your foot goes flying through the center of it awkwardly making a tiny hole without actually opening the thing — you rip your leg back, and body slam the door, or if you’re too slow the next guy in the stack pulls you back and peeks through your newly made hole in the door. The one thing you don’t do is give up. You meet the problem head-on with quick, decisive problem-solving.
It’s surprising how many people don’t force themselves to overcome adversity in this manner. Even some combat veterans who know these things all too well have trouble applying them in civilian life. I know sometimes I do.
If a situation arises, the only option is to adapt to it, and then overcome it. This means changing your life to appreciate the problem at hand, understanding it, and then defeating it (with a positive attitude, if you like enjoying your life). Waiting for someone else to do it, trying the same ineffective methods, or simply sitting in despair and exasperation are all-too-common reactions to adversity in today’s world.
As I drive across the country, moving from Florida to upstate New York, yesterday was one such day. My girlfriend and I planned on finishing our packing and cleaning of my apartment by 11:00 a.m., hitting the road and getting 7 or 8 hours in before stopping at a hotel and getting some work done.
The trailer we rented wound up being too small for the weight we were putting in it — I made sure to get rid of everything that wouldn’t fit in a box trailer, and yet still the weight of assorted clothes, kitchen materials, my musical instruments, and military paraphernalia proved just over the weight limit for that little trailer behind my little car.
And that was just the start. The lock for the back of our trailer went missing. I got pretty badly sunburned, but of course, that was just after the torrential downpour (Florida likes to go back and forth). My best friend’s wife had gone into labor two weeks early, so we took care of his dog and ran some errands, including picking up his mom at the airport. I had to switch out the one trailer for another — in separate locations. The blinds had a hole in them, and we had trouble fixing it. The scratches in my bathtub required a trip to Lowe’s. We had to unload the first trailer and throw everything in the second. Only by a miracle (or a series of miracles) were we able to leave by 7:00 p.m.
When it rains, it pours.
And yet, my girlfriend quietly endured, as she always does. As I felt my pangs of frustration bubbling up, I looked to her and her honest, carefree smile as she lifted boxes way too heavy for her, or scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen spotless, or navigated me through Tampa to switch out trailers.
And from her lead, we adapted and overcame.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.