I’ve been doing this military thing for a long time now. Well, not all at once; I took a 20-year break between my 11 years of active duty in the Marines and the last 5 years in the Army National Guard. But, this entire military thing is ingrained into me now. It’s not just part of who I am; it is who I am.
Sometimes, this military service requires me to do things that are against my individual best interests, but when you are part of something bigger than yourself, and doing something for the greater good, sacrifices must be made. I am proud to make those sacrifices, even though they often affect those I love in ways I would prefer to shield them from. In this most recent case, I will be away from my wife for eight months at a time when she needs me around for not only companionship, but counsel. Fortunately, technology will aid us here, but the strain on her will be greater than it is on me.
I took this on, knowing the hardships and knowing what it’s like to deploy, to be away from family and friends, to miss home. I’ve done it before, and knowing the difficulties, I chose to do it again. But my wife did not. She never expected to be an Army Wife, and despite my assurances that serving in the National Guard wouldn’t take me away for extended periods of time, I never expected to become a Warrant Officer or to have to go to a school that lasts 8 months. But here we are.
In the end, it is my sincere belief that the sacrifice of me being away for eight months will yield a lot of positive results. My military career demands it; I cannot remain a Warrant Officer without becoming fully qualified in my occupational specialty as a Targeting Officer. My retirement, which will benefit my wife as well, will be more substantial as a Warrant Officer. The benefits I receive and will receive for the rest of my life once I retire will also be beneficial to both my wife and me. Sacrifice, by definition, means giving something precious to be lost in exchange for something important. In this case, I am exchanging time (something that is a finite resource) with my wife, family, and friends for my military career and retirement.
To prepare for this training, I have been exercising as regularly as I could. I had to take a break when my wife and I went on a two-week vacation in September, and afterward, that period of non-exercise extended two weeks due to some lingering abdominal pain I was experiencing. Once the pain was gone, I started back with weightlifting and running only to hurt a tendon in my right arm. Fortunately, I can still continue all my weightlifting and running; I just need to lay off the leg tucks for the next few weeks.
I have been sacrificing comfort for being fit, and sacrificing eating foods I grew up with and have always loved and enjoyed for eating healthier. Fortunately, my wife is a master of making facsimile foods (foods typically made with non-Paleo ingredients) and has infinitely improved our standard of living. But what I have given up has yielded a life so much more full than I could have ever imagined.
Eating well led me to exercising, and exercising led me to thinking that I might want to get back into the military. I never imagined that I’d actually be able to do it, let alone to become a Warrant Officer. And now, after sacrificing all that time and expending great effort into being fit and healthy, I am on the cusp of an eight-month stint on active duty attending a military school.
As I prepare to depart my comfortable civilian life to enter the active duty military world, I am left thinking about all the decisions that led me to where I am today and to where I am going. I think of all the sacrifices not only made by me, but of my wife. She gave up a lot to help me get to where I am, and she has been my biggest supporter. She has sacrificed just as much as I have, and in some ways, more. She never signed up for this. This wasn’t part of the deal we made when we met, but when presented with the choices, she agreed. She not only agreed, but did so through never ending love and devotion.
I’ve said it time and time again on this blog: anything worthwhile is going to take effort. I’ve also learned that the most precious things in life sometimes require sacrifice. The amount of sacrifice determines the impact of the result and its ultimate value. In this case, our separation will, I believe, only make us stronger.
Believe in yourself. Make the hard decisions and don’t you dare accept good enough or fine. We only get one life, and time is precious, but sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice some of that time for something worthwhile. In my case, it’s my military service and attending a military school, but for you, it might be sacrificing comfort for better fitness, or sacrificing your love of pasta for better health. We all have it in us to make these sacrifices; you just need to decide how much the end result is worth to you. You just might surprise yourself with what you can do when you set your mind to it.