- By Eric Beach -
I spoke with my sister yesterday and she said something that has become an echoed sentiment. The crazy part is its all because of one picture!
This simple picture has been the genesis of so many comments, both in writing and in conversation. People are telling me, "You look so happy these days!" I receive those statements because the good days out number the bad for the first time since I can remember. I owe that to the Echelon, to relationship.
Life has taught me, through various experiences, life is survived alone but lived in relationship. Both life and relationship require work. In truth, any reward we receive without work is meaningless. Without having earned it, we soon are left empty, chasing after another temporary high.
I earned some tears on Saturday. I found catharsis on the road. My wife dropped me off at the gym so I could swim and then run home as I trained for the Wisconsin Milk Man Triathlon. After dropping me off, she took the girls to another gym so she could work out and the girls could play. This plan left me with a small challenge... I swam the 1000 meters just fine. I changed into my running gear and prepared to run. The only issue was, I would need to run wearing my backpack with all my gear in it. It weighed 10 lbs. Not terrible, especially when compared to the ruck runs from my Army days!
I threw on my pack and ran.
About a mile in, my legs were on fire! For a second, I was hard on myself, but then something changed. I told myself "You are going to finish the 8 mile run without stopping, so get used to the burn!" Then I thought of my Dad. I thought about Hawkeagle, Ott, SFC Phillipe, my SSG Ruppert, and all those soldiers and loved ones I've lost. They are gone. Their legs can no longer feel the burn of physical exertion... But I can.
The backpack became their memory and the fire in my legs became their presence. I put them on my back and told them I loved them and wasn't going to quit until I brought them home. I wept tears of pure joy and healing on mile 2.
I left a lot out there on the run. Thats the beauty of training! Cutting down your mile time is great. Increasing the distance you can run and growing stronger are both good things. But, healing your soul... Thats the win! Thats what makes this all worth it!
The life change is what puts the twinkle in your eye and the clarity in your mind. Fight hard to achieve it and the world of possibilities opens up before you.
How could I find this healing and not share it with everyone who will listen? To silence that voice is to run from relationship, to split from the Echelon, and head to the cave of isolation.
I choose to fight! I choose to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are ready to step into the sun. I choose to boldly face truth and reality and hold the hands of the walking wounded as they bare their souls standing courageously vulnerable. I choose to embrace those that would uncover their wounds and say, "Here I am imperfect, broken, ready to heal, and ready for a change because the old way isn't working."
At its core, Project Echelon is relationship. We extend our hand and an invitation. Come out of your cave and join us in the open air. Squint if the sun is to bright. But trust me, in time, I promise your eyes will adjust to the light... Mine have.