I bought this poster in 1997, ten years before I stopped drinking, because I think it’s cool. The men in the picture are British SAS (Special Forces), and they are storming the Iranian Embassy at Prince’s Gate on May, 5, 1980 under the code name: Operation Nimrod. It is hardcore real-man stuff and if you care about such things then you should already know about it, and if you don’t care that’s okay too…
Anyhoo….I hung it on the inside of my bedroom door so that is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing that I see before I turn out the light. It jacks me up. Back then it used to get me pumped to hit the gym, or go on some unreal, multi-mile hike, or some other kind of adventure. After I hurt my back I stopped looking at the poster. I lost my job; I gained weight, and endured a list of unpleasant things. In November, 2006, I had my last drink. As my head began to clear I began to see the poster again, and it began to affect me in a new way.
The poster is a mile-marker or a high-water mark. The men in the picture are leaping from one balcony to one where they have just blown the window open. Inside the building are six terrorists, and twenty hostages. They rescued 19 and lost one. Every member of that SAS team would suit up and do it again today thirty three years later. That is who they are. To me their existence gives me the perfect perspective to deal with the challenges and changes in my life. I’m not a guy who prays, but since 2007 I have developed an affirmation that I run through my head in the morning as I look at the poster while I load my pockets with my keys and wallet. It goes like this:
Nothing I will do today will be this hard.
Nothing is at stake today that was as high as the stakes these men faced.
No one can depend on me if I’m not dependable.
I cannot rescue anybody until I rescue myself.
Make stress your friend, make it a steak dinner.
The bigger it is the bigger your smile should be.
The odds are always in your favor when you play by your own rules.
No quitter ever got anywhere, or ever won.
It has worked for me. It’s as close to the Serenity prayer I will ever get. Addiction is rooted in a distorted ego, and for me the temptation has always been to quit; quit on my friends, quit on my career, quit on my love life, and quit on myself. I have lost count of how many times I have quit so near the end, even near victory. What this poster has reminded me of is that I am capable of getting through to the finish lines in front of me as the tasks facing me are nowhere near as great as six armed terrorists. I just have to keep at it.
A secret goal is for posters of my future book covers to hang in the rooms of SAS operators. That would be cool.