A long, long, long, long time ago…I went through military boot camp (Basic Cadet Training-fondly known as “Beast”) at the United States Air Force Academy. It was the summer of 81, and while Princess Diana and Prince Charles were getting married, I was in the foothills of Colorado Springs enduring the most rigorous training program of my life. Whilst (I love that word!) Anglophiles were glued to their television’s watching the “wedding of the century,” I was doing push-ups, pull-ups, and running through the Obstacle Course and Confidence Course in Jack’s Valley, Colorado.
Every day, we woke at the crack of dawn and we pressed through the day until taps at 9 pm. It was the most intensive time of my life-forcing my body to do things that were not in my wheelhouse. (I was an Erudite in a Dauntless world= for fans of the book Divergent! #Divergent #Veronica Roth) I spent my high school days in ballet, drill team, and AP classes, but then I was thrown into a world where walking across a 4×4 beam, one story above the ground, was the only measure of success.
Why did I not die?
How do you get through Boot Camp? How do you get through Cancer and its treatments? How does anyone get through the monumental challenges of their life?
1. Find good friends to share the ride on the Struggle Bus with you. Life is more fun when you’re singing
The Wheels on the Bus songs together. My Academy classmates are still my friends 100 33 years later. Today, my friends and family help me laugh and forget the hard reality of what I’m going through.
2. Every day-get up, get dressed, get going. Get through. Day 1 may just be getting one foot to go in front of the other. By Day 20, you can chuckle at how little you could do on Day 1 . Your muscles learn what you expect of them. If you expect nothing, they give you nothing.
3. Give it your best…your best will get better. In the 1997 movie Gattaca, the character Vincent is asked how he accomplished such a remarkable feat, and his answer was…”I never saved anything for the swim back.” Give it all! You can’t be thinking about the next lap or the next obstacle. Give everything to each moment!
4. Believe in God’s plan(s)-Plans to give you a hope and a future! Jeremiah 29:11 There is a plan for you. You just have to trust that there is a plan.
5. Get past the bad days by reminding yourself that “Everything will be okay in the end: If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” -John Lennon There are days you wish you could just forget, where nothing goes right, but that is not the end of the story.
Finally….. My memories of that time (and now this battle with cancer) have crystallized, and while they include the struggles and disappointments, ultimately, the successful finishing of difficult obstacles is what sticks with me.