"Nothing is going to break you."
Meghan McCain quoting her father when he encouraged her youthful self to get back on her horse after falling.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016
Ali, Stockdale, Epictetus, and Me!
Muhammad Ali famously stated “The man who views
the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” I
like that quote, and I’ve used it in my class as part of a welcome to the show
PPT for both the students and myself to get our heads around the success thing
that we all want in life.
I’ve spoken for quite
some time now about powerful role models and heroes that it’s almost second
nature to extol their virtues. I’ve done this well before the Parkinson’s
symptoms and diagnosis, so it’s not like I use it because of that. In fact, now
that I have Parkinson’s, I’ll address the elephant in the room that is my
tremors in slide 2 (if slide one is the name of the class and the teacher). After
that will come heroes, role models, and ideologies like Logotherapy, which help
some ways, we are who we’ve always been. Our biological DNA defines some of
that, for better or worse. Nevertheless, time changes or should change all
things. As Colorado mountaineer Gerry Roach said, “Geologic time includes now.”
As it did for Aron Ralston, the slot canyons of Utah changed over millions of
years to become as they are. Unfortunately, the day Ralston was there, an
800-pound boulder moved, and it changed his life for the mentally better after
rattling him for the physically worse. In a Michael J. Fox way, his disability
has left him “lucky,” but it didn’t come for an easy price. He had to cut his
own arm off and hike out of a desert prison to have a chance at life after he
was trapped for 127 hours.
extra price is the point that philosopher Brian Johnson discusses when he
elaborate on the Stockdale Paradox on a fascinating Youtube video by mixing Admiral James Stockdale’s experiences and
lessons learned with the philosophy of Epictetus to show us how we learn from
brutal facts and difficulties that essentially destroy us to build us back up.
In this, they’re a lot like Basic Training, which I attended from April to June
of 1990 at Lackland AFB in Texas.
Johnson refers to
these as “hospital lectures.” By leaving in pain instead of joy, we come to be
who we are meant to be. We live out our role, no matter what it is, to be
better. We wear our scars, but we carry them with pride to be who we need to
now, my role is to write, teach writing, and to inspire people by continuing to
do and to not give up being active. I need to be good to people, and I need to
spend time with my wife, family, and friends so that I can never lose track of
who I really am.
In this journey, I
see a lot of people struggling through crap. We’ve all been there. Some of us
are working through there. We’re trying to get where we need to be. Some of us
are looking back at the times that changed us and gave us our foundations.
Being at an older place than we were then might keep us from remembering the
man or woman we used to be, but thinking back, feeling reminders of the former
self should show us how we’ve changed. We’ve moved on.
a good thing. Why stay the same? What waste that time? Simply put, choose to
think of this today since my time in the Air Force ended 21 years ago today.
There were some good times and some tough times. I met some very good people.
They saw me through some bad decisions and a job I was never really meant to be
in (medical technician) since it wasn’t who I really was. More than that, these
people who I served with and befriended were my friends, and they saw something
in me that I didn’t even see since they kept me going through the early 1990s
and allowed me to learn from college, some powerful books, and life experiences
to begin the serious steps that it took to be the man I am today.
at 45, I’m thankful for the past 21 years. I’m thankful for everything from
Lakenheath to Bury St. Edmunds to West Lawn to Mount Penn to Ephrata. I’m glad
to have seen this country from ocean to ocean, and I’m glad to be the man I am
today and am becoming in the future. We wouldn’t be who we are without going
down Frost’s roads without our sighs and misguided journeys.
may be works in progress, but we’re good people.