About 10 days ago I had the following experience…
I had been sitting in the dry sauna for about 5-minutes, totally engaged in reading the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two former Navy SEALS, when this lovely lady asked if I was in the “service.” I provided her with a quick reply, and within seconds she turns her phone towards me displaying a photo of her son, decked out in full camouflage. I asked, “What service is he in?” Her reply, “he just died.”
I was instantly filled with emotion, but also aware that I should find a way to keep the conversation alive and so I inquired with some nervousness, but no reservation, “What happened?” (part of me hoping it had nothing to do with a military tragedy). She went on to tell me that it occurred during a diving accident, while he was searching for abalone in Oregon.
I will admit, I breathed a small sigh of relief that he was not killed in action, or while on a training exercise, but my heart mourned for her. She went on to tell me that he was on his way to officer training for the Army National Guard. He had completed his degree, and had recently completed his initial reserves assignment.
She was at the gym, not giving up on life, but rather she was grieving in a productive way.
But then she hit me with another bolt of lightning: her other son had hung himself last year. He left two young daughters behind. Both of her sons had been in their 20s. She only had one child left.
I was breathless.
Others in the sauna appeared to scared to make a sound. This poor woman — 2 sons dead. I tried to go back to reading my book, but all I could do was sit and reflect. My heart beating awkwardly and not because of the 190 degree temperature.
Prior to hearing her story I was mad that my recent surgery had sidelined me from working out — I was only on day 4, and trying hard to obey the doctor’s orders — so far I had. The trip to the gym for some light flexibility work and to sit in the sauna was my first venture out of the house since returning home from surgery. And my surgeon told me I needed at least 7 to 14 days with no lifting or exercise, so I still had a few days ahead of me. I was bummed about my situation, until I learned about hers. One son dead because he had lost his sense of purpose along the way, another because of an accident.
But she was determined to KEEP GOING. She knew no other way.
If something has set you back or has you down today, get up and KEEP GOING. It is the most positive and productive thing you can do.