One of the first things that exposes you to danger upon entering military service is permission. I know that sounds ridiculous but let me explain. Once you arrive at Boot Camp in the darkness of night and are greeted by a crisply uniformed and rabidly unfriendly Drill Instructor, you quickly realize that the implied permissions you took for granted in your basic human living, have been stripped from your control. You must now ask permission for them. From then on, asking permission from a Drill Sergeant is a crap shoot, which may be met with the jackpot of being able to have your request, but more likely losing it all, to an artillery barrage of shouting, push-ups, jumping jacks and having even less favor than you had before you asked. Until we master the landscape and its tasks, shouts of; “Sir! Permission to use the latrine! Sir! Permission to drink water! “Sir! Permission to insert unimportant, perceived need here, fuels this strange new phenomenon, from which nothing is safe.

The Drill Instructors employ this tactic as a means of instilling a sense of personal discipline. If they have done their job well, you become more self-aware and more focused, which are qualities that the military needs from you. Graduate from Boot Camp and you recover most of those permissions to manage for yourself once again, as you continue your journey as a proven military member.

At Warriors Once Again, we discuss “permission” with each new veteran resident. Sure, we have rules in our residence and program designed to help them successfully recover from homelessness, but for that to happen, there are some individual permissions that must be relinquished. But there is one “permission” that I draw their attention to and insist they add it to their routine, and that is giving themselves permission to rest.

It’s a busy world. Chasing down what we think we need to survive is almost always committed at the expense of something else, the most willing victim of which, is rest. Over the years I have learned that doing “nothing,” in no way implies that I am lazy, unmotivated, uninterested, detached, indifferent or otherwise. I have consistently recognized the value of clarity that rest provides toward success in tasks small and large. I am also routinely amazed at how foreign of a concept it is for the veterans of our program, when I confront them with it, but I know it is vital to their success.

If you think you are chasing dreams, check yourself to see if you are really chasing money to fund the dreams you hope to one day chase. If you are chasing acceptance, check yourself to see if you are merely performing with excessive activity, toward an uncertain end. If you’re chasing sobriety, rest is a state of being you need to become familiar with quickly, because in running full speed toward that noble goal by filling your time with busyness, the very thing you’re running from, will be a ready coping mechanism for the exhaustion that will inevitably come. Rest is an art form worth intentionally pursuing.

At Warriors Once Again we give ourselves permission to rest even when we have not expended all of our energy, and it has become one of the foundations of our program to which we can assign credit for our successes.


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