The jet seemed to cut through the air smoothly and I was drifting in and out of sleep when the wheels slammed into ground abruptly. Violently, we bounced back into the air as the engines roared in an effort to slow down the plane. Passengers remained rigid until the aircraft was back under control. Stable and secure on the ground, the plane taxied its way softly to the gate. Several minutes went by before I could exit the aircraft at Chicago O’Hare Airport, but finally the fasten seat belt light faded out and people began moving towards the door. As I started to walk down the jetway, feelings of excitement and uncertainty began to surface. It was a rough landing, and that landing seemed to foreshadow the start of basic training.
When I walked through the doors at the Navy Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, IL, I was met head on by an angry recruit division commander. Standing inches from my face, he was shouting and yelling instructions at me as I began the check in process for Navy boot camp. Navy boot camp is not overly difficult, but when you’re barely 18 years old and never left your family or the town you grew up in, it is definitely a culture shock.
Basic training is 8 weeks long with the first week being by far the worst. The days were long, the food was terrible, and I missed my family (and my smoking hot girlfriend who later became my wife) like crazy. I started thinking to myself, “Man, I made a mistake coming here.”
But as the 7th night of boot camp came to an end, I laid down on my top bunk looking up at the ceiling, wishing that I when I woke up I would be back home with my family. I turned over on my side and was staring at the soft glow of red light coming from a fixture across the room when it came to me like a bullet shot from a gun. I was struck with an epiphany. This was the last day of the first week of boot camp. I now only had seven weeks to go!
“Seven weeks sounds way better than eight.” I thought to myself. This insight changed everything for me: my attitude, demeanor, my approach to life. I was refocused on the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL all because I realized that every day comes to an end. This idea led me to start living life day-by-day, hour-by-hour. I woke up that next morning invigorated, and for the first time at boot camp I was excited to be where I was. With my new philosophy fresh in my mind, I believed that no matter how bad my day might get, no matter what I may fuck up, or who I might piss off, or what stupid task I might have to do, it would all eventually come to an end. Each day would eventually end and give way to a brand new one; pure and clean, ready for me to either fuck it up or completely dominate it. From then on, I woke up each morning with the intentions of kicking the day right in the dick. If I failed and the day kicked me in the dick instead, I wouldn’t get down on myself, because I knew that eventually the sun would set and that day would end. But when tomorrow comes and I get in the dick-kicking contest with that next day I will know what not to do. I will be a little bit smarter and a little bit harder than before.
John Wayne sums this up a little bit more elegantly than I can.” Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. It comes to us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.
The point is that everyone will make mistakes and have difficult times in their life, but do not let these hard times discourage you from pushing on and accomplishing great things. I challenge everyone reading this to start looking at each new day as a fresh start, a clean slate, free of any event or emotions that you felt the day before. Wake up each morning and strive to better yourself, refuse to give up on difficult situations and see things through to the end. If you are dealing with a difficult time, start taking things day-by-day. Every day will come to an end, and no matter what a day throws at you, learn from it and you will be physically harder and mentally smarter than you were yesterday.
Living for them,