Pep Talk: “The Next Right Thing”

December 3, 2017

“Your honor,” stated the military veteran in humble fashion, “I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.”
The truthful comment came from a handsome young man enrolled in Jefferson County Colorado’s “Vet Court.” He was standing before a compassionate judge and explaining the good, bad and ugly of an attempted comeback from chronic issues plaguing his life since military discharge. America has lots of vets struggling with PTSD, depression, substance abuse and mental illness. 

A Stronger Cord is building relationships with soldiers who served our nation. My late father (Marine) and three uncles served. The Knuckleheads embrace the call to offer veterans a wellness movement encouraging exercise, relationship building and community service. The more fit, connected and giving vets become, the healthier, more willing and able they also become to building a stronger cord to families, purpose and communities. Everybody wins.
Anyway, as your scribe sat nearby with others dedicated to these warriors’ well being, the ol’ cranium wandered to a memory. “Mark!” bellowed a good-looking dude. “I really enjoyed your message, thanks for sharing.” The two of us were in a Denver parking lot. This ol’ jock had just delivered a Pep Talk at an early-morning men’s fellowship gathering. I was startled while walking toward my car and lost in thought. Suddenly a dude with a neatly-trimmed beard was front and center. “I’d like to share my life’s mission statement since getting sober long ago.” I enthusiastically nodded and muttered, “Lay it on me, buddy.”

What this well-tanned man offered has stuck like glue. Apparently, most attribute First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt with its origin. Regardless, what this beautiful soul muttered was awesome: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow’s but a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” Wow. Sure, we can deny it. However, truth is, all we have is RIGHT NOW. On this roller coaster somebody coined life, there are no guarantees. 

Back to the moment of being present in a Jefferson County courtroom, squirming, while quietly cheering on this veteran. After his comment to the judge, a long-ago charge, from a parking-lot stranger, reverberated the aging skeleton. Life is tough. Success is not a given. Odds of victory improve if we let go of the past, think about the future but focus on the present. Yep. Real simple to talk about, far harder to execute. For struggling veterans and us. The trials and tribulations often come from unexpected and unwanted origins. They are physical, emotional, spiritual or financial in nature. Whatever IT is, we must address it. One day at a time. As well as possible.
How? Well, before this uncertain veteran completed a ten-minute conversation with a supportive judge, another advocate muttered something quite wise. Peer mentor coordinator Joseph Ellis, a veteran in recovery himself, offered, “Focus on doing the next right thing.”
Amen, brother. Whattaya say we give it a shot this week? Right now is a gift. Unwrap it with gusto and focus on the next right thing!

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