As we wake to start our day, how many of us take the time to admire the morning moon? Something is awe-inspiring about that celestial pearl resting on a deep blue canvas. It’s one of those little things that most of us never stop to admire.
As a child, I absorbed everything around me. Life was fresh, new, and exciting. The sound of laughter at an amusement park was my favorite or sitting on a bench while fishing in my grandfather’s pond. Life was not simple in the late ’70s, but for a child, it was.
After I graduated Highschool, I joined the workforce. I now had bills to pay and learned why adults complained. I didn’t own or rent. Instead, I jumped from one friend’s house to the next. Some nights I slept in my car. $8.25/hr translated into a lot of Ramen Noodles, and without proper economic training, I splurged every cent I had. Yup, looking back, I shake my head at my ignorance.
To escape my impoverished reality, I joined the military. I’m not going to say it was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. For one, I don’t particularly appreciate orders; asking is different from telling. “Can you help me move this box?” sounds more courteous than “Help me move this box?” That’s another little-thing I enjoy. I smile at the fact that the military has yet to catch on to that mindset.
For the next decade, I worked my tail off. I changed my whole outlook on life. Although I was polite before I joined the military, it was me being cordial. I knew people reacted more favorable to a kind word or compliment. I didn’t have to mean it; I just had to say it. In the military, I had my attitude thrown back at me. Talk about a hard look in the mirror. This revelation is one of those little things I enjoy the most. Nothing opens our eyes like a good honest look in the mirror and only to see who we are.
While stationed in Louisiana, I had a friend invite me out to fish. I hadn’t thrown a lure in over ten years at that point. Getting out on that morning water brought me back to my youth. I use to love the smell, sound, and feel of the outdoors. At that moment while watching my first sunrise on the inter-coastal waters, I realize the meaning of life; find happiness. I should have quit drinking and been a better person. But we aren’t robots. Some of us take forever to learn simple rules.
And as life has it, just as I was learning to be happy, the Navy sent me to the worst squadron I served. Now before I go any further, this doesn’t mean the Command was terrible. It means the environment and my perspective were not aligned. There was much backstabbing by peers who fought to make rank. And a Master Chief who bragged about kicking First Classes out of his Navy. For four years, I followed my ambition to stay happy despite my circumstances.
Then, I received orders back to Louisiana. Talk about a breath of fresh air. I finished my Navy career at the Base, where I re-found my happiness, and learned the value of staying humble. Many of my junior peers were fighting to get where I was. I was fortunate I never got processed out of the military. To this day, I am thankful for the life I live. I call “being thankful for life” a little thing, but in reality, it is enormous. All of these little things are huge. This life would not be the same without them. Like salt on a steak, it makes all the difference.
I implore you to stop and smell the roses, go on a road trip, and listen to your high school playlist. Life is raw. It is not good nor bad, but our perception is what deems it as such. Find your happiness and maintain it. Be free to change when our happiness changes. What makes us happy one year may not bring the same sentiments the next.
Never be too busy to feel the sun on your cheeks. For a time will come when we will not have the opportunity, and it will be too late to enjoy.