We all have defining chapters in our life that take us sometimes on unexpected journeys. My entire life has been filled with them. It wasn’t until I moved to Southern Illinois how much I realized someone was turning the light bulb on for me and I just wasn’t seeing it.
When I enlisted in the military back in 1992, I was completely excited about serving my country and being a U.S. Army soldier – HOORAH. I was 18, full of energy, and ready for life. It was the night of one of the basketball championships and I got to see Michael Jordan with The Bulls on TV do what Michael Jordan does, be unbelievable. I was sitting in the hotel room by myself thinking about what I had really signed up to do. I decided to get a drink out of the vending machine so I walked down to the end of the hall. The light was out, but unexpectedly it came back on as I walked back to the room.
My first tour was in Seoul, Korea for 1 year. My entire class went to Germany except for Private Harness. I had the joy of taking the 15 hour flight overseas by myself. The honor of being a soldier is that you are NEVER alone. We have each others back and we move forward. Our plane landed and I still remember the smell as I stepped off the plane. The smell that I would later know as Kimchi. An overwhelming feeling of sadness and loneliness came over me. I boarded the bus with everyone else and we headed to Camp Carroll. The window seat was open and I decided to lean against it and watch the countryside as we drove by. I looked up at the street lights and noticed one was out, but turned on right as we went by.
In 1996 I got out of the military and made my way to Southern Illinois to start my civilian life. I moved in with a great family from Murphysboro, IL and they adopted me as one of their own. The transition wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy either. I made a lot of stupid choices and ones that could have changed my life forever, but something always kept me on the path I was meant to be on. Numerous times I would drive home from partying in Carbondale and notice a street light turn on. It always reminded me at the right times in my life that there was something bigger and better waiting for me.
I can’t tell you how many stories I have for when I have seen the light bulb turn on in my life. Sharing this story is one of the most vulnerable pieces I have ever written. The purpose for sharing it is to let all you entrepreneurs, business owners, parents, veterans, etc… know to keep your eyes open and your hearts free. Take a step back and always be open to the possibility that great things do happen to great people simply because they just do. I will continue to keep my eyes open for the light bulbs turning on and I hope you do.
If you like this blog article, I plan to share more #TurnTheLightBulbOn moments throughout the years to come.
Tom Harness | @itomharness