2 Cornerstones to an Unbreakable Reintegration Foundation
3 minutes to read
Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Nitzavim-Vayeilech – Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30
A few weeks ago I heard sailors in formation calling cadence for the first time in quite a while. They brought back memories of my days as a Boy Scout. World War II and Korean War veterans ran my troop. Among the military influences, when we hiked someone called cadence. They were corny…
“I had a good wife but she left.” “You're right!”
“Look what the horses have left.” “You're right!”
“Sound off…” “One, two…” Sound off…” “Three, four…” “Cadence count…” “One, two, three, four, one, two, THREE, FOUR!”
But to a scrawny kid struggling to carry a 50 lb. backpack they kept my spirits from flagging. Civilian life could use some cadence calls, especially when the transition blues hit.
The Timeless Formula
No matter how meticulous your plan, you’ll have bumps when reintegrating to civilian life. In my case, a week before the movers came to pack up my on-base house, the business venture I had worked on for six months fell through. We got to Los Angeles with lots of expenses and no job.
I could have used a cadence, even a corny one, to help me lift my feet. I felt anger toward the partner who deceived the rest of us. Worse than the lost money was the lost time. My internal dialog flooded with doubt.
I had to make some changes. Fast. I’ll bet you can relate.
Parshas Vayeilech holds the clue for what to do:
“For, the matter is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:14)
The Israelites stood on the cusp of the Promised Land. Moses reminded them they didn’t have to go to extraordinary lengths to figure out the right thing to do. Though daunted by having to change their mode of life, the Torah would still direct them. G-d would provide comfort and protect them. If their hearts remained true to the Almighty, they need not despair.
Concerned they don't know the new requirements for success. Needing to change their way of life anyway. Being hopeful and apprehensive at the same time. Sounds familiar?
The Burden of Previous Transitions
If you ever struggled to transition, you carry that baggage now. Starting school. Changing schools mid-year or going from middle to high school. Trying to make a team. Crossing over from Webelos to Boy Scouts. Acclimating to your parents getting divorced. Long forgotten emotions from these events can resurface during times of uncertainty.
You may have made an irreversible mistake. You vowed to move on only to find yourself caught in an emotional loop. Realizing you're in a similar situation now, you doubt your ability to prevail.
If destiny haunts you, remember it’s in your mouth and your heart, to move forward and succeed. You’ll ease your way with a cadence to overcome emotional inertia. Create yours by:
1. Purpose. Reimagine who you are. As you transition to civilian life, you’re no longer solely a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, or Coastguardsman. These remain a part of your identity. But now you’ll add new facets to them. Write down a word picture of you reintegrated to civilian life.
2. Mission. Your values don't need to change. But the focus of your life and work does. Family-wise and professionally, create a plan for a lifelong journey. Does your religion give you direction? Consider what 10 to 30-year work goals will motivate you. Don't worry about their changing over the years. Encapsulate your current vision into a powerful sentence or two that describes your life’s trek.
Post these on your bathroom mirror and read them aloud every morning. Keep a copy on your phone so you can read it when the transition blues hit.
Each time you start over, you strive anew. Obliterate worries about the times in the past you said you'd change but didn't follow through. Recognize all that matters is what you say and do now. The required tasks are neither too extraordinary nor too complex for you to handle. These weren’t empty platitudes for the Israelites. Nor are they for you.
Fill in your knowledge gaps. Create a cadence to keep you marching when your energy flags. And always remember, G-d is there to comfort and protect you.
Do you have a mantra that gets you through a difficult situation?
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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!