A few weeks back I received an email from a customer and the soon-to-be-wife of an Army veteran. In the email she said:
I loved watching that video and learning your story. My fiance and I are getting married in November and this is going to be one of his wedding gifts. He had a really hard time when he got back from the army and almost committed suicide, thank God he didn't. The other day he told me he missed the army so much and wished he could go back. Someone told me about your flags the day after he told me this so, I just had to get him one. Thank you for everything you do! I love that you are in NC too.
The comment in orange got me thinking and, in that moment I realized that I, too, have many moments where I wish I could go back. I know we're not alone in this and this short blog gets at what pulls me back.
It tugs. It pulls. It calls me back.
With a constant juxtaposition of life then versus life now running in my mind I find myself missing the military more and more with each passing day.
I miss the good times. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the mission. I miss the urgency.
There are moments where I wish I could throw my hands up and go back to the military. There are moments where I wish I could be around people who are like me. There are moments where I wish life would go back to a simpler time.
A simpler time. Not something most would associate with the military. But life was simple. And it’s in that simplicity where I most often find myself daydreaming.
The complexity of civilian life can be maddening.
From the incessant division of attention to the endless separation of time. Life becomes a balancing act of responsibilities and priorities.
Work. Family. Friends. Purpose. Hobbies. Meetings. An unending list of priorities all grasping for time and attention.
In these moments I wander back to the simple times. The times when work, friends and purpose were unified. A time when I could give my attention to my family in its fullest form.
But it’s all in reverie.
I yearn for the simplicity of what was.
But without the complexity of what is, I wouldn’t have what I hold so close to my heart today.
While times were simpler, I was also simpler.
Though life was simpler, it was not as full.
And it's through that fullness where I take solace in the complexity of the day.
My wife. My boy. My home. My friends. My family. An unending list of priorities where I choose to place my time. An unending list of priorities that bring the greatest joy I can know.
Within that joy resides why, in reality, I have no desire to go back to the military. The military would complicate what I love today, thus creating a new layer of complexity, obliterating the fond memories of simplicity I retreat to today.
The memory of a simpler time will remain just that, a fond memory to assuage an innate desire to mentally retreat for just a moment. And in that moment I, and many others, will take a breath in the past, come back to the present and to drive on.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Since that whirlwind of a night, the trajectory of Combat Flags has changed. I’ve talked with thousands of you via email, Facebook messenger, Instagram messenger and even LinkedIn this year. You’ve told me stories of your service, you’ve told me stories of loved ones who have committed suicide following a deployment (or multiple deployments), you’ve told me stories of loved ones who were killed on deployment and you’ve told me stories of hope.
On the screen I saw memories of my old life, of my current life, and inspiration for a future life. Images of time in the service, images of the early days of Combat Flags and images of my family shone brightly on large, rectangular screens. A booming voice narrated, offering the story of Combat Flags, my story, to a charmed audience.