September 3, 1976: I don’t remember a whole lot about the temperature that day or which way the wind was blowing. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast, lunch, or supper. I couldn’t begin to tell you what the headlines were or what else was going on in the world that day. What I do remember is where I was and what I was doing that day when my life changed direction.
It happened in the evening after a long week of 10 – 12 hour days. The location was Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, a U.S. Air Force pilot training base. A place where a young man’s dreams were turned into reality by converting jet fuel into noise, speed, power, and G-forces that could snap your head back against the headrest and press you down into your ejection seat; a time and place where being on the edge and flying warp-snort with your hair on fire was not only commonplace, it was expected and demanded. It was a Friday. Not unlike any other day of the week, really. From the pictures taken of the event, it was obviously a pleasant, sunny day. It was also the Friday before the Labor Day weekend. I remember people were thinking of getting away to enjoy the three-day break and do all the things people do over a holiday weekend. I remember that I had more hair and less belt-line that day as well, but that is fodder for another day. I know I was looking forward to the long weekend. There was even an air of excitement about it. Life was good and full of promise and expectation, and the future unwritten.
This wasn’t just another Friday. It is one that will be forever etched into my memory because it changed my life’s speed and direction forever. You know what I’m talking about. All of us can look back and see how one day had such profound impact on us that suddenly everything was different and we found ourselves on a new pathway. As I look back over the 36 years since that life-changing day, I can’t imagine what life would have been like had that day not progressed as it did. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. That is the day when Deborah LaHaie became Debbie Trombley and Chapter One of one of the world’s greatest love stories was written. The book isn’t finished.
Life is full of dates and times that simply blur together as one day follows another. The routine of daily activity sets in and we march along without giving much thought to our steps along the way. One seems like another. The trash goes out every Friday morning; grocery shopping is every Saturday morning; the laundry has to be done again and again and again. The bills keep coming. Stuff happens. Boring sets in.
Then one day we note a slight change in the air; a cooling breeze, a colored leaf on the tree outside our window. We take note of these things briefly and silently return to what we are doing. It’s just another day just like yesterday until the years have passed and we suddenly look up from watching our footsteps as we plod along a well-beaten path, look around and wonder, “How did I come to be in this place? Somehow, life should be more exciting than this,” we muse. “Is this all there is?” we ask.
Life isn’t supposed to be boring, meaningless or purposeless; there should be more days to remember for the joy and happiness they bring to our lives and those of the people around us than what most of us seem to experience. But we have to choose to make those memories. We have to choose to live every day to its fullest. Do something different. Give of yourself when you don’t feel like it. Make someone else’s day by being a friend, or simply lend a listening ear to that “extra-grace-required” person who makes you uncomfortable or whose sad life story makes you want to run in the other direction. Maybe you won’t remember it as a special day that serves to change a life’s direction, but maybe someone else will.
The message is simple: be there for someone else today. Make a difference for someone else, and when you string a bunch of those little days together, you will have created a life to remember so when you get to the end, you’ll be able to look back and say, “This is what it was meant to be!”
About the blogger
John E. Trombley, organization development consultant and training with The Village Business Insitute has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo. Prior to founding his own organization development company, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander, and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard—he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.
With over 14 years of experience in providing consulting services and training programs, Trombley has a passion for group process facilitation and corporate training in areas including leadership development, change management, leadership transition processes, managerial coaching, and personality assessment workshops. He is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator, is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management Group Crisis Intervention, and is certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
For more information, contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or www.thevbi.com.