The Reveille with Ryan Evans

There is one word that adequately describes the path that must be traveled, for both traditional and non-traditional students: discipline. John ‘Jocko’ Willink, former Navy SEAL, commander of Task Unit Bruiser, the unit that had the privilege of serving in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006, bases his life on this concept.

As a matter of fact, one of his books, co-written with fellow SEAL, Leif Babin, is the aptly titled “Discipline Equals Freedom.” For a better understanding of what Task Unit Bruiser did, they were considered “Punishers” and one of the deadliest units deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Furthermore, Chris Kyle, whose exploits were the focus of the 2014 film “American Sniper,” was a part of Task Unit Bruiser. However, I digress. The focus here is discipline and how, though it seems contradictory, is indeed the path to freedom.

Sure, this is a generalization, but it is probably safe to assume that most of us wish we had more what we call “free time.” Of course, last week, I surmised through the great Henry Rollins that there is only lifetime and while I still agree with that, I will use free time here for the sake of explanation.

For the traditional students out there, a day can look a lot like this: Wake up, eat, get to classes, go to extracurriculars or sports, or both, do homework, prep for the following day’s classes, try to find some semblance of a social life because a huge part of the college experience happens outside the classroom, do laundry or other chores, sleep, repeat.

For non-traditional, myself specifically, a day is something like this: Wake up, hit the gym, eat, feed and walk the bulldog, drive to campus for class, head home, do household stuff, get to other classes or go work an eight hour shift, get home, do household stuff and homework, find an hour or so to read or watch a movie, get to sleep, repeat.

Either way, those are two very busy days. However, can they be less hectic? Sure, with discipline.

Throughout the day, how much of your time is spent mindlessly scrolling social media or scouring the internet? I see you in the classrooms, pretending to follow along with a PowerPoint presentation on your laptop, when the reality is you are shopping or checking whatever social platform is the popular one these days.

What if you dedicated that time, time which you pay for by the way, to truly immersing yourself in the content? It is not unreasonable to imagine that homework might get a bit easier, perhaps even streamlined, since you were disciplined enough to pay attention, take notes and participate.

What if instead of finding small moments throughout the day for reprieve, you instead moved from task to task, enthusiastically, knocking them out in order of precedence or convenience? How much more time would be tacked on to the end of your day?

I do not think I need another example here to drive the point home—staying disciplined leads to more time. Whether that be free time or time spent pursuing other endeavors is up to you, dear reader, but nonetheless, use those extra, well-earned moments wisely and to your benefit.

Now, I will not kid you, it is not easy and I say this from the perspective of a person who is far short of being a master of time management. The military preached it … and preached it … and preached it, but four years removed from my active service, I got a little lazy.

It is worth noting that much like stoicism, much like many philosophical pursuits, much like training for something, much like getting this coveted degree we are all working towards, nothing worth having comes easily. In fact, it is a struggle, one that may seemingly come to an end in the wee hours of the night as you cram to be prepared for an exam after procrastinating it or to finish writing a paper you have known about for a month.

The struggle, however, does not end once you triumphantly hit save and retire to your bed. It renews itself daily, bringing more challenges and so should we renew ourselves daily, once more rising to face the day and live a life, instead of merely existing in it.

After all, every challenge, struggle, strife and failure are nothing more than an opportunity to learn and grow so should we choose to see it that way.

Remember perception is indeed a choice. You can choose to crumble under the weight or you can choose to be inspired, to rise to the occasion, stay disciplined and find freedom in the process.

The choice must be yours though, no one else can make it for you. Does discipline mean earlier alarms, longer days, shorter nights and turning down a social occasion or two? It absolutely does. But what is more important? Well, again, the choice is yours.

Though controversial to say the least, his work was impactful enough that we still talk about it to this day so with that in mind, I will quote Sigmund Freud.

According to Freud, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.”

And dammit, he was right. Nothing could be more beautiful than the sacrifice that necessitates growth, shows you to yourself and leads to a life of freedom, whatever that may mean, through discipline.