Brenda’s Blog – February 9, 2021
“Do the twenty, son, you will not be sorry.”
My twenty year old grandson joined the USMC after graduation from high school. From a very early age being a Marine was a dream. He planned and lived a life consistent with eligibility for service. I once asked him why he stayed away from the bad habits of many his age. His answer is permanently imprinted on my heart: “Those things might have been fun for a short time, but when I looked long term, I saw if I got involved in those things I would be disqualified from my goals, so I said no.”
During his Christmas Leave we had lunch together. While we ate, a woman walked up to the table and asked, “Are you in the Navy?” “The Marines,” he answered. “Congratulations! My husband and I retired from the Army. We chose to do our twenty and it was the best decision we could have made. So, do your twenty!”
It made me think about commitment. We live in a disposable culture. Expensive appliances are expected to wear out after 7-8 years; athletic shoes are rated for 12 months; computers are ancient if not replaced every 18 months. Sadly, relationships and jobs are often short to mid-term.
As the woman said there are definite benefits from extended time frames. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. There are 8760 hours in a year. Clearly, expertise requires time. As a new corporate officer, I sat in serious meetings with difficult outcomes. The senior officer handled complex issues with poise and insight. After several months I knocked on his office door and asked, “How do you know to handle situations so well? I want to be able to think through problems like you do and resolve them with clarity.” “Brenda, it is a matter of time. The details may be different, but after years of management experience I have seen every variation of the same problems, so I have learned how to resolve them.”
We lived in Southwestern Colorado and immediately involved ourselves in community activities. One day I asked a woman from a multi-generational ranching family, “Margaret, how long will we need to live here before we will be seen as locals?” Without batting an eye she replied, “At least 25-30 years.” No wonder we felt like outsiders after 12 months!
My grandson may not “do the twenty,” but I do believe he has the character to take the long view as he makes decisions. And even at my age I see the benefit of putting down roots in my community.
Time counts; character counts; and commitment counts.