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I had a friend of mine many years ago in the Marine Corps, a Major, whose wife died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after her death, he shared some of his insight one day during a morning briefing before we left for Panama.

As the morning sunlight came streaming through the hangar doors and the briefing nearly over, he moved a few things aside on the edge of the platform he was at and sat down. With an unusual look of reflection on his face, he paused and said, “Before this briefing is over, I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to our deployment, but which I feel is very important

“Each of us is put here on this earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. That is one reason that I became a Marine. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end especially in our line of work. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is Universe’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single moment of every single day.”

His eyes beginning to water, something we were shocked over for this was a side we have never seen, he went on. “So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to where ever we go as a unit or you go as an individual, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be a scent-perhaps of freshly baked bread coming out of an Panamian home or it could be the sound of the desert breeze slightly rustling the sand or the palm trees, or the way the morning light catches one palm leaf as if falls to the ground.

“Please, look for these things, anything, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some especially when we as soldiers are supposed to be unfeeling and hard core, these things are the ‘stuff’ of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy and for us here to protect. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time…it can all be taken away.”

The whole of the Unit was completely quiet. We all picked up our packs and filed out of the room to the flight deck silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way to the pickup point than I had ever noticed before. Every once in a while, I think of him and remember what an impression he made on so many of us, some of us did not come back, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook. I do know that some of my friends that I have lost during our time in Panama and Iraq died with a different outlook on life and took that peace with them as I have taken it with me, as I have gone about my life. I do, each day try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook.

Take notice of something special you see on your lunch break today, something on your drive to and from work. Go barefoot when you take you walk today. Go bike riding at sunset. Stop of on the way home tomorrow and get a double-dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we did not do.

Make it a fabulous day; make it your best day!