Life Is About Relationships and Memories – West Point Life Lesson #10
Our ship rolled gently through the Mediterranean Sea. The bright blue sky turned orange as the last rays of that day’s sun saturated the sky. My buddy, Jack Swift, and I stood at the top of the ship’s observation deck, leaning against the railing and observing the sun set.
Jack and I decided to take a trip together, in celebration, after we graduated from West Point on June 3rd, 1995. We had a pocket full of cash and backpacks in tow. We started in New York City, with the goal to make it to Egypt to link up with another one of our West Point classmates, Ayman Rateb.
That summer, we embarked on an unforgettable adventure that took us through the Azores, Italy, Greece, and ultimately Egypt. We caught this particular ship in Venice, Italy and were on our way to Athens, Greece. We found the ship docked at the port of Venice and discovered that we could pay a small fee to jump aboard and pitch a tent at the top deck. We only had an hour before the ship left the port, so Jack and I quickly gathered our belongings, checked out of our small Venice hotel and hopped on the ship to Athens.
We pitched our tent, and on the other side of the deck, a small group of inebriated German bikers sang Eric Clapton tunes all night. After we were settled, we headed below deck for a bite to eat. After dinner, Jack and I made it back to our little campsite and gathered our journals to capture our thoughts. Writing our adventures in our journals at the end of each day became a regular ritual on our trip. It was when we were writing and reflecting, that evening, that we experienced the beautiful sun set out at sea. We spent some time reflecting and writing, but after awhile we both just found ourselves mesmerized by the scenery of the sea and watched the sun disappear on the other side of the world. I can still vividly recall the memory of the light breeze, the soft sound of the ship pushing through the water, and the salty smell of the ocean invading our senses.
Jack looked over at me, “You know Rheamer,” he paused for a moment in reflection, “life really boils down to two fundamental things, relationships and memories.” He leaned back from the deck railing and looked down at his own feet as if he was contemplating his own words, then gazed back towards the ocean and began writing some more in his journal. It was a simple but profound statement that stuck with me. I can’t remember if I said anything in response, I just remember his statement. It was one of those moments in life that gets engraved permanently in your memory. That was a wonderful trip and I have many great memories and stories from our time together, but that particular moment, on that ship, out in the Mediterranean Sea, between Venice and Athens, I remember Jack’s words, a revelation that one gets on an epic journey like the one we experienced.
For the past 18 years, I tried to live by that mantra, “Life is about relationships and memories.” I am intentional about my relationships. I work to foster solid connections with quality people and work even harder to ensure that I create wonderful memories with those that are closest to me, because at the end of the day it is a lasting memory that you create with someone special that makes you smile and stays with you for a life time.