Twenty-nine years ago today I started basic training as an artilleryman in the United States Army. That experience took me through twenty three years, eleven countries, two wars, three wives, five presidents, one alcohol addiction, and approximately three hundred and thirty-five thousand eight hundred cigarettes.
I am happy that I was able to expand my worldview past that of my immediate surroundings, so that I learned to see the similarities in people instead of the differences. There is no 'us' and 'them'. There is only 'us'.
I am happy that I eventually learned that violence solved nothing, and I am especially happy that I have, mostly, learned to forgive myself for the destruction I wrought upon the earth.
I am happy that I still have a good relationship with my son, though I was absent through so much of his youth. I am hopeful I can repair my relationship with my daughter. I love them both far more than I ever showed and much more than I will ever be able to express.
I am happy that my brother gave me a kick in the ass when it looked like I was going to wallow in grief and despair for the rest of my life. I am happier, still, that he showed an incredible amount of empathy (of which I was previously and completely unaware he possessed) during said ass kicking.
I am happy that his ass-kicking spurred a renewed interest in maximizing the time I have on earth, and prompted me to go to college. I am happy I chose computer engineering, even though it kicked my ass harder than a drill sergeant with PMS and nicotine withdrawal.
I am happy that choice of majors brought me to Huntsville, Alabama, the Silicone Valley of the Southeast. I am happy that I have found a vocation that satisfies my love of learning and puzzles and that I have such a great bunch of people with whom to work, and such a marvelous place at which to do so.
I am happy that that trip brought me to my best friend. I am deliriously happy she accepted my offer of coffee and cake one afternoon, and has shared all the days with me from then until forever.
I am most happy that I am still here, today, to have enjoyed this sunrise, and that I have learned that this is really all I need to be happy: just the chance to see another sunrise.