Today I was reminded of something I frequently experienced while serving in the Greatest Fighting Force on Earth. It is extremely important to do things that suck. This jarring shock outside of our comfort zone is what makes us feel most alive. It makes us appreciate all of the normal comforts of life we so frequently take for granted. More Importantly though, you should do these awful things with friends.
This morning I woke up and walked down my stairs at 7 am to find one of my best friends sitting on my front porch waiting to go jump in the ocean with me. What’s most important is that he showed up on the day when it was 55 degrees, pouring rain, and there was a hurricane off of the coast. He didn’t show up on the optimal, sunny, 64 degree day. He showed up when I personally was extremely pissed off about circumstances outside of my control (don’t do that). It was a metaphor for life.
It reminded me that in the shittiest times of my life I am never alone. That no matter what I truly believe or how alone I feel, there are people I can depend upon to help me weather the storm. When I was on active duty this was something I experienced frequently. Waking up with symptoms of hypothermia, feeling like I was about to break from hiking miles with 150 lb packs, and wondering why the hell I made the decisions I made in my life were never experienced alone.
I always had a buddy next to me. One who looked to me in his moments of weakness and one I looked to in moments of my own weakness. In those moments you realize that weakness is universal and temporary. It is not a condition forced upon us forever like a terminal illness. It is a mindset we choose to entertain or throw away. Those men that can do this on their own 100% of the time are extremely, EXTREMELY, few and far between. The strongest men, have people they can depend upon to weather the storm.
So to you I say, go out and do shitty things with your best friends. I promise that 10 years from now you will not sit around talking about the time you stayed in your warm home on your comfy couch. You will take great pride in the subzero temperatures you faced when trying to summit a mountain. You will take pride in how close you came to breaking mentally, or physically, and managed to persevere for one single reason. You had great friends with you that you could depend upon.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.