I wasn’t always this guy. I wasn’t anyone the world would even think twice to look at or even follow. I can almost pin point the exact moments I turned an idea into my new life motto.
In Kentucky I was lost, stuck living in a place that never felt like home. I told myself, “Why do I do this to myself. And why don’t I change it?”
It wasn’t long after that I was in the military living a new life. I have never been an emotional man. My father was my example of a man and he has never shed a tear in front of me. He doesn’t show much sympathy for anything really. A loving man with rough edges. I always wished I was more like him.
I can remember the moment I felt broken because my friend was killed in training, someone who had become close to me. I remember fighting the tears for most of the day, and then I opened the door to my apartment. As the door opened, I knew I could hide from the world and I was now allowed to show emotions. The tears fell as I sobbed, the kind of crying where you have a strange quiver in your breathing, a genuine hurt and confusion. This was my first friend in the military who had lost his life. I think it was more painful knowing it was in training and a site I was just days prior, doing the same training.
I couldn’t catch my breath. It was confusing because I didn’t know where all these emotions came from, as if I was watching myself and thinking, “What’s happening to me?”
“Get it together Vince…”
This wasn’t how a man was supposed to act.
I felt so much after this. I remember kicking my first dead body in Afghanistan. It’s something I was taught, done it in training 100 of times. But when I actually did it, it took the wind out of me. The body was hard… and I guess I didn’t expect that. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. Its as if he turned to stone and it messed with my head. Maybe that’s how my body chose to deal with it, by removing anything human about it and fantasized reality in my own head. I turned and signaled to an NCO with a nod , ‘he’s dead’. We both already knew, but maybe it was a moment of relief and second opinion.
I guess I have seen so much pain, I have experienced so much life in my 20’s that it changed me. I wasn’t the man I am today. Small parts of that man exists, but the rest is new. I see life and I feel it.
I have seen death and what it does to the families when their love ones are killed in action, lost from illness, died in training, or even by their own hands. I have been there.
I have been there while mothers are crying, their kids confused by Daddy’s makeup as he lays in the open casket. The fiancé who never got that chance to marry the man of her dreams and pulling his body halfway out the casket to get one last good hug. The father that mentions I remind him of his fallen son, the mother who said I smelled just like her son… the marriage that never seems to get back to good after their son chose to take his own life.
I am blessed and haunted by these moments. I have been equipped with the ability to endure damage and keep going. A high rebound rate and resilience with vivid memories.
I feel empathy
So much so it crushes me, because it stirs up the past and I live the pain I see in their eyes. I feel myself reliving my own pain and I know what they are going through.
I strive to be a good person, the best person I can be because I know struggle, I know addiction, depression… I feel the world and everyone’s pain. I guess death has been that one humbler that no one can avoid. It’s the truth that waits for us all. From birth to death you can see life as a distracted existence or an opportunity to make an impact.
I care so much about leaving a positive impact on this world to help others find their calling, to leave a blue print of a life full of mistakes can help guide others to success… life doesn’t have to be harder then it already is.
I felt compelled to write this because I look at my life right now and never in a million years thought I would be doing this. A small part of me somewhere deep in my mind, believed I was meant for something great. I was meant to be on this world to accomplish something extremely important.
I still believe I haven’t fulfilled that calling. But, if you looked at my life ten years ago, you wouldn’t call me an inspiration…you wouldn’t say, “That’s a man I would aspire to be.” You wouldn’t say, “I want to be like him some day.”
Something changed in me, something so profound that it has shaped the man I am today.
Maybe I write this to put your life in perspective. Its not to late to start changing your stars…
Motto: Not happy? Change it…
“Because in 40 years whether anyone remembers me, I hope that I can be a causal effect that changes the course of history.
If only for a single human.”
– Vincent Vargas