Ancient Stoic Philosopher, @Epictetus once said:
“Deliberate much before saying or doing anything, for you will not have the power of recalling what has been said or done.” – Epictetus
I have said and done many things to prove that statement correct, only to later realize that it doesn’t and shouldn’t be regret that follows #Action but a deep understanding that the choices we make make us. This quote stirs up some emotions in me from a heated discussion I had this weekend. An old buddy was in town and we met up downtown for some drinks after a concert. He’d met up with some random new people and everyone was having ‘New Acquaintance” conversations in a relatively loud bar. It came up in conversation that a majority of us were combat veterans, but one of the “New guys” was a patriot civilian with a passion for PTSD. In fact, I believe it was the first question out of his mouth to me. “Do you have PTSD?” The question didn’t really phase me, because although I’ve seen and been through some very intense training and real-life situations, I am very well-adjusted and have sorted out my emotions on the things I’ve done and seen. I do not have any lingering illness.
Like the image above, however I felt very alone in my opinion that “It’s ok to be ok.”
The guy kept pressing, and it was pretty interesting to hear his side of the issue. He ultimately came to the conclusion that he wants to make sure that vets get treatment and not outcast when they get back from combat, and if they need help, they need a better level of care. In the heat of the discussion, I had to think long and hard before saying anything because as Epictetus said, I know that words can’t come back. I wasn’t against everything he was saying, in fact, we agreed on plenty, but his tone… It was as if the man wanted every vet to be psychoanalyzed because surely, “You’re all fucked up when you come back.” Hearing that, I couldn’t simply say nothing. He needed to hear something from someone who’s been through hell and kept on moving.
You see, some people won’t talk about it. Some people will. Some will only talk to others who have “been there” and some people are ok. That demographic, the people who are ok, need to know that they are not somehow different, weird, or other than human. They should also not develop hubris and think that they are somehow Superhuman. He said to me, “I feel bad for your guys…” and I said, “That’s just it, You feel bad for me for having been through some of the most trying times of my life, and I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly, I feel bad for those of you who HAVEN’T been tested in such a way. You have no idea how strong you can be….” And I let that linger.
People who can handle incredible amounts of stress and life and death decisions are not liars who will hide their pain and emotions. The notion that EVERYONE is fucked up is false. Plenty of people can compartmentalize their experiences and learn, even grow from adversity. Check out Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile for a full treatise on the idea that it takes tests, and shocks, and struggle to become more than robust. Some things GAIN from disorder, rather than degrading.
@byreginatv posted this meme today, and it’s poignant. We all come from different places, and surely I can’t speak for everyone who’s had traumatic experiences, as we all sailed from different ports, but maybe if one other person reading this needs to hear that “it’s ok to be ok” then that’s good enough for me.
Life is an adventure. It can be interesting, terrifying, awe-inspiring, and downright difficult, but it’s important to realize that it’s precious. Our time here is but a breath, and it’s up to us to seize the moments we have any craft them into the stuff of dreams.
Engage, #Act, and keep up the #hustle.