An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Commentaries : Display
NEWS | May 8, 2015

Stop and Smell the Roses

By Lt. Col. Adam DiGerolamo 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander

Okay ... I'm going to ask a stupid question. Are you leading a busy life? I would assume the overwhelming majority of you who are reading this article answered with a resounding "YES!" In today's world, this is no surprise. Let's face it; our personal lives can be busier than our work lives. This is especially true if you are married and/or raising kids. Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society, we sometimes forget to enjoy all of the experiences associated with our busy lives.  We run from event to event, more worried about capturing a selfie or "checking in" on Facebook so our friends know where we've been, all the while forgetting to enjoy the event itself.

We hear the old saying all the time, "Life is too short not to enjoy it." Recently, my younger sister got married. My wife and I traveled to Mississippi for the wedding where I was able to catch up with many of my family members that I do not often get to see. Not only was it great to get away with my wife for the weekend, but I had the added bonus of great weather and spending time with family and friends during this joyous occasion. However, instead of soaking in the moments most would treasure, I found myself thinking about the multitude of things I had to do for work on Monday and whether my squadron was ready for an inspection starting that day as well. Why? Should I feel guilty about enjoying myself and this happy time for my sister because of some signatures, EPR reviews, tasker answers and inspection preparation items? In my head, the answer is obviously no. Yet I am not alone in this failure to "Stop and Smell the Roses." This cliché is a simple way of saying, "Slow down and enjoy what life has to offer." It can also mean enjoying the little things in life that we take for granted.

For some of us, it's not about slowing down but more about recognizing how good we really have it. For military members, it can be easy to take our jobs and how we fit into the bigger picture, for granted. Day-to-day, we can feel like all we do is turn a wrench, fill out a form, edit an EPR, check an ID at the gate or update a PowerPoint slide. Yet, we forget how these seemingly mundane tasks play a major part of a bigger picture. Turning that wrench may have fixed the part that allowed an aircraft to take off and facilitate our part in a crucial humanitarian mission. Checking IDs at the gate may have deterred a terrorist from entering the base with the intent of harming military members and their families. Filling out that form may be the crucial documentation necessary to load critical equipment needed at a forward operating base. Unfortunately, we do not always see the fruits of our labor and it can be difficult to determine if what we do is important. It may take a deployment, away from family and friends and from what is familiar, to really appreciate how good we have it in our current jobs. On the other hand, it may be that deployment that truly helps you understand what it is you do at home for the warfighter downrange; because you are now that warfighter. 

For me, being a squadron commander has been an unending roller coaster since taking the flag almost two years ago. As I write this, I'm reminded of how fortunate I am to be in this position. Yet, I find myself, more often than not, focusing on the daily fires, following up on taskers, fiddling with the "Crack Berry" and on, and on, and on ... instead of taking more time to enjoy the experience and get out to interact with the troops that work so hard throughout the squadron. Now, truth be told, I have enjoyed several aspects of the job and some of the opportunities afforded to me in the position. However, it can be very easy to miss the point of why we are in the position in the first place; to take care of those valuable people making the mission happen every day under your command. Let's face it, work will always be there, but the experiences we miss are gone in a flash. Everyone, not just commanders, needs to slow down, enjoy the journey and not rush through our careers and life on our way to the next big accomplishment. Because in the end, the journey and special moments are all we have. Stop and smell the roses.