My “Life” Law
Once upon a time, long long ago, in another land, I sat with a big number of other young men.
We were in an aircraft hangar, it was zero three hundred (3 am to you civilians), it felt it was about one hundred degrees, and we’d all been on airplanes for six or twelve hours.
All we wanted to do was eat, and get some sleep. Instead we had to sit through an orientation before we could do anything.
A military orientation is boring at best, mind numbing at worst, and this one was exceeding the requirement at all levels.
But there we were, trying to stay awake and at least look like we were trying to pay attention. All of a sudden, in the middle of somebodies canned lecture, a tough looking Tech Sergeant walked up to the podium and very loudly announced; “All right. Listen up!”
And we did. This was what is known as the “command” voice, and Technical Sergeant Ryan had it and knew how to use it.
One by one we looked up and he waited until he had everyone’s attention.
“Understand this”, he started; “from here on a lot of things can happen and life will get pretty tough. You can get hurt. You can get dead. Any number of really nasty things can happen.”
Nobody had any trouble paying attention. He had it all.
“But if you learn nothing else from this night, learn this; if you never give up, you can never be beaten. You can come in second or dead last. Makes no difference. You don’t give up, you can’t be beaten.” And he turned around and walked away.
At the time I didn’t realize how important that speech would be to me and the rest of my life. I was nineteen years old; a very very long way from home, and like every other young man in that building, more than a little scared.
Over the years I’ve told this story many times.
My kids and wife are more than a little tired of hearing it. So are most of my friends and more than a few of my enemies.
In my life I have faced my share of adversity, and I’ve always kept this little speech in mind.
“If you don’t give up; you can’t be beaten.”
It’s my life law. I don’t give up.