I’m not going to pretend like I have no regrets — embarrassing moments aside, there are things I wish didn’t happen the way they happened. I try to embrace failure, to get up when beaten down, and I don’t regret those instances. However, it’s the times when I hurt someone else that I regret — those lessons are not worth someone else’s pain.
Still, you pick up and carry on, because wallowing in the past does nothing for anyone.
These are some of the moments that you carry with you — the moments that define you. I have a few moments throughout my military career that I see now as being definitive to my current self. Though they may have been small and forgettable to some, they linger in my mind as points in time that shaped the person who is writing this today.
One of those moments was in my first year in the Army.
It was the early hours of the day in RASP (Ranger Selection), and we were running “death runs,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. There was a brief moment: just as we emerged from a section of trails where we had taken turns carrying one another, several water jugs lay before us. The cadre instructed us to carry the jugs however we could, and to run to the next point a ways down the street. The jugs were filled to different levels, and we all just picked the first one we could grab. Some sloshed, and actually wound up being worse to carry when compared to the full ones where the water inside could not move.
There were more men than jugs at the time, so we took turns as we lumbered down the road under the dim sunlight at dusk. I passed off my jug to someone else, and encouraged everyone as we pushed forward. Someone started to lag behind, and I grabbed his jug.
In that moment, I felt a surge of energy. I had already gone through my typical second wind, and even third and fourth wind. Life sprung within my withering limbs like a breath of electricity propelling me forward. I pushed my body onward, rising to the front of the group.
Of course, I eventually had to pass on the jug — this was not some ultimate victory by my strength over the weakness of others. We were a team and we acted as such, which made us successful. But schools intense schools like RASP allow to you explore the inner depths of yourself, whether you know it or not (and whether you like it or not).
This was the moment where I discovered just what “strength from within” really means. That I could push my body much, much further than I imagined and that strength of spirit is more important than strength of body (though both are extremely important). And that moment defined a part of me.
Other moments have stood out throughout my life — some from my combat deployments later, or even just a handshake from the right person at the right time.
What moments have defined you?
Featured image: Soldiers in their second week of basic combat training low crawl through the final obstacle at the Fit to Win endurance course on Fort Jackson, S.C., Oct. 1, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton