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What Old Sarge Said to the Young Inexperienced Soldier

Old Sarge Says ...

    You are unique and special ... just like everybody else ... but not everyone looks good in a uniform.

    You, like others, will gravitate to a level, be it high or low, where you are comfortable with other associates, and you will support one another's thoughts and actions. This corps will become your core.

    Your friends will come and go. People you trust will disappoint you. Crises will test the ties that bind. Loved ones will die. Ensure that you do not betray them.

    Everyone is relatively unqualified ... we're all just muddling along from one disaster to another. Life is just an extended exercise in on the job training.

    There are no absolutes and nothing is unconditional, but you are the final defense against chaos ... be resolute.

    Justice is either accidental or nonexistent, but enforcement is ever present. Life is inherently unfair, but that's reality ... so find a way to deal with it.

    Promises are always contingent or too good to be true. All promises can be reduced to one factor: loyalty.

    The Plan is either deficient or flawed ... so find a way to accomplish its objective.

    In the transition from one event or crisis to another, there is no preparation or decompression phase ... rebirth is just as shocking as everyone's initial birth.

    Change is always more internal than external ... all outward changes are clues to the genuine alterations. Anybody talking about it isn't actually doing it.

    As the desired goal approaches, fear increases ... the only way to reduce anxiety is to abandon desire. When you don't care if you win or lose, then you are free to act fully, which will paradoxically improve your chance of fulfillment.

    If you think that nobody cares if you live or die, then you are free to choose belief in yourself ... if you accept the probability of your own death, then you will be free to live fully, which will paradoxically improve your chance of survival.

    Luck is unreasonable, and guilt is nonsensical, but they exist ... so find a way to deal with them.

    You think you're tough, and you may discover hidden reserves in an emergency, but nobody is ever tough enough for war. Learn the art of resilience.

    Everybody suffers ... each alone with his hurt. Shared misery, like all other vicarious feelings, is illusory. No one can ease anyone else's suffering ... all extended comfort only benefits the comforter.

    Once inflicted, pain never ceases ... its acuity heals and fades after the passage of some time, but it always remains. It's a psychic scar that matches the physical scars of life.

    Withdrawal does not answer any ultimate questions; it only limits access ... like any retreat, it's a tactic that enables reinforcement and recovery so as to continue the mission.

    Hope is either a dream or a lie, and peace is either a happenstance or an illusion, but they exist ... so find a way to deal with them.

    Achievements become obscure or are overtaken by events, and are made meaningless much too soon ... be proud to have done everything as well as possible.

    At the end, you will be proud of the little things that few noticed; the big things will be so manipulated that they'll become unrecognizable.

    Keep faith with those in the past so those in the future can keep faith with you. Always be loyal and true.