Kicking Ass and Taking Names or Kicking Back and Laying Blame?

My guardian angel hovers over my shoulder on a lazy Saturday afternoon and whispers in my ear, “Get off your lazy ass and write.”

My inner slug replies, “Back off, I’m tired and I don’t feel like it.”

That’s when a voice from the past adds his two cents.

As a young submariner I took on responsibility for a division and felt confident in the execution of my duties. We kept our tempo pretty high and maintained a record performance amongst those in our squadron. A new chief arrived and challenged us all to do more, to work harder and to make and achieve more personal goals. Amidst the chaos I declared, “I can’t do what you ask; too many other tasks take higher priority.” He shoved a gnarly finger in my face, yet with no malice he threw down the gauntlet. “If there was a million dollars on the line, you’d get it done.”

At first I stood there, stunned. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard. Only later, as my work day came to a close and I crawled into the sheet metal coffin that was my bunk, it dawned on me the point he clumsily made. It’s not about whether there’s money or not, but the realization, that I’d make sacrifices and find those extra ergs of energy within me, if only I found enough value in his challenge.

Only one thing stood between meeting the higher goals he’d set or succumbing to my own tired logic; trust. Did I trust this man’s assessment? Is this extra mile worth so much that stretching myself thinner made sense? My short time with this powerful motivator, this man with a warrior’s heart, a mentor’s wisdom, and a child’s enthusiasm instantly gave me the answer I sought; of course I trusted him.

In the end my chief showed me resources within myself I hadn’t thought possible and taught me a new way to view every step forward from there. Those memorable and rewarding days in my military career still serve as fuel for the fire that propels me forward.

Driving to periscope depth.
That’s me in the center, driving. My mentor, Moose, is standing, gripping the pipe in front of him.

We all have dreams, but how many dreams become reality through persistence, hard work and the necessary focus? And how many more bear the bitter fruit of regret? The dreams come easily but the accomplishments often seem insurmountable before the first step is taken. A novel is a collection of chapters, the chapters, paragraphs, and the paragraphs sentences. Not everyone’s a writer, just like not everyone’s a carpenter. We all must find a marriage of passion and patience in a craft that doesn’t drive us nuts when the rubber meets the road.

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