What will you remember in the end?
Last weekend, I attended my brother Ron's 30-year retirement ceremony from the Marines. He had friends fly in from around the country that he’d known since his teenage years, boot camp, and every stop through his military career. And, there were a few tears shed in the end.
It's the people and relationships along the way.
This week, I transitioned jobs and found myself experiencing that same bittersweet feeling.
There would be no more wandering down the hall to Leslie's office to start the day with 20 minutes of gossip or random discussions of learning theory. No more bantering with David about running, politics, or whatever the obsession of the day might be. No more team lunches.
It's always the people. It was the same when I departed my Soldiers at the end of our deployment or when I left my educator colleagues who kept me going for the five years I worked in a high school. It’s the people I remember.
And, it's never too late to reach out to old friends.
I also want to congratulate my brother Shawn (on the left) -- both brothers ended their military careers on the same day with 10 years difference in service time. Both brothers have served as examples of the man I want to be. I've got three more years to go (but who’s counting?).
Unfortunately, not all Veterans experiences are the same:
Will "Akuna" Robinson is a disabled Iraqi War Vet who's battled depression, but in the end, his cure was a new community.
He provides a sobering perspective for many veterans after the military:
"America doesn't care about veterans, not in that hard, meaningful way ... If it did, would Afghanistan have lasted this long? It cares about active-duty because that's when we're young, fit, healthy, can't ask any of those messy questions ... it's sad, man, the only time we're united is when we're at war.
These views are not limited to the military:
"People have lost a sense of community, and I get that, I get what that lack of connection can do." He means his own journey, going from the shared purpose of the military to the screaming isolation of trapping himself in his room in Southeast Louisiana.
But, he found his tribe. And that has made all the difference.
"Thru-hiking has that community and it's why I love it so much. People need to know they belong to something."
Akuna is in the elite group of triple crown finishers (meaning he's completed the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail), even rarer for the fact he's a black man.
If you're struggling, allow yourself to risk being vulnerable to connect with others. It could lead to the journey of a lifetime.
An interesting experiment to promote integrity:
Melissa Bateson and colleagues at Newcastle University, UK, put up new price lists each week in their psychology department coffee room. Prices were unchanged, but each week there was a photocopied picture at the top of the list ... of either flowers or the eyes of real faces. The faces varied but the eyes always looked directly at the observer.
In weeks with eyes on the list, staff paid 2.76 times as much for their drinks as in weeks with flowers.
Eyes are known to be a powerful perceptual signal for humans. People behave more cooperatively when they are being “watched” by a cute image of a robot or even abstract “eye spots” on a computer screen.
I'd be interested to know if the effects of this are only external or whether this is a way to increase the likelihood of convincing ourselves to do the right thing similar to using a mirror near the refrigerator.