“They told me they loved me constantly, chronically, every day….

“They told me they loved me constantly, chronically, every day. They gave me a good home. They cared for me. They did all the basics, and above all that: they worked hard to put me in a great school district. But no matter how much they provide, your parents can’t give a shit for you. I made every bad choice a high schooler could make: tv, video games, pornography. All the stuff that you use to not think about stuff. It’s immediately gratifying, maybe the first 50 or 100 times. But after the 200th time, that stuff becomes who you are. I guess the whole time I was just hoping that someone would come along and tell me exactly what to do with my life, or else it would just come to me. Maybe that happens for some people. But for the other ninety percent of us, we have to make the conscious decision to just go. At first I told my dad I was joining The Marines. He’s an attorney. It certainly wasn’t what he would have chosen for me. But he said: ‘If this is what you want to do, you’re going to visit every branch. You’re going to make an educated decision.’ On the day I signed with the Coast Guard, I remember telling him: ‘I just want to be a good man.’ That’s as far as I’d gotten. That’s the only thing that I knew for sure. I didn’t know where the path was going to lead, but I was just tired of not trying. I figured it was better to just start walking and see what the hell happens. Because I know what happens if I don’t do anything.”

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