This amazing story by Derick Carver—the amputee in the video above— was sent to me by a reader in Japan and is very inspirational. It’s also a good kick in the butt or take-your-breath-away punch in the stomach about how to live your life. Coincidentally, I also served at Fort Bragg, learning to jump from planes and becoming Airborne, and also spent time—a month—recuperating in Walter Reed Hospital, after I returned from non-combat, military duty in Korea with hepatitis. Other than that, of course, there is NO comparison…

In early 2010, I was serving as a Platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne. On a dismounted patrol my platoon was ambushed by the Taliban and I lost my leg in combat. I flatlined 3 times, I endured 47 surgeries, would need 52 blood transfusions. I fought through them, and I continue to fight every day of my life. I will fight until the day I die. I am an American Airborne Ranger…that is what I do.

People always ask, “What motivates you?” This question comes up at least 3 times a week while in the gym. I can only assume someone sees me, my leg and other injuries and imagines how difficult it must have been to recover from such a traumatic event. My response is always the same, “What the hell else am I supposed to do?” Three years ago I was an Infantry Officer with the 82nd Airborne, had a Ranger Tab, and I was jumping out of airplanes and leading men in combat. Now, because according to your standards I’m “disabled,” am I supposed to be a different person? Sit around and feel sorry for myself? That’s not in my nature; it’s not a choice I’m willing to accept.

Motivation or the lack thereof is a choice. Just like everything else in our lives we make a choice whether consciously or subconsciously, we chose who we are going to be and who we are going to become. Are you happy with who you are today? If not, what are you going to do to change it?

Sadly, too many people in our country have become complacent and accept mediocrity, never reaching their full potential. They feel like everything in their life is beyond their control – they are a victim of life’s circumstances. No matter what happens to you, you have complete control in how you react to the situation.

Another thing you have absolute control over is your physical conditioning. You want to be strong, be strong. You want a 6 pack, get a 6 pack. But understand that with these decisions comes sacrifice. This is the catch that prevents most from achieving their goals, prevents them from being the person they want to become. Their personal level of motivation isn’t great enough to bear the burden of the sacrifice necessary to achieve their goals.

People tell me I motivate them to be better. To stop making excuses and to get off their ass and start taking steps to become the person they want to be. I’m humbled, even embarrassed, that I serve as an inspiration for others. Because it’s the guys in the hospital I met that motivate me.

When I feel sorry for myself, I think of them and how much more they are suffering, how much more they have lost and still push on. It’s easy for people to take for granted something as simple as taking a piss in the middle of the night without having to think about it but that’s a luxury not everyone has. Think about it. Next time you’re tired, you had a long day, your head hurts, shoulder hurts or feet hurt just think: there is someone out there like me that would give anything to be able to call that a “bad” day.

I’m fortunate enough to have had a unique life experience that has allowed me to be exposed to some of the most inspiring individuals anyone could ever hope to come across. It’s hard for me to bitch about my injuries or situation having spent 2 years recovering next to a 20-year kid that is missing both his legs and arms. I was amazed by his sheer will and determination to regain part of what was taken from him. I walked away from watching him thinking to myself “There is no fucking way I could do that. I’d rather have been left in the field.” Sad but true. The worst part about that is, we, the amputees – whether single, double, triple or quad – are the lucky ones. We are still here able to enjoy life, our friends and families.

Everyday I wake up and have a choice.

I can look at my leg and feel sorry for myself or I can choose to be better than yesterday, to be one awesome motherfucker. The real reason I wake up every day and push myself to become better is because there are men better than I am that sacrificed that luxury so we could live our lives as we choose. I choose to embrace what’s hard, not to fear failure and to strive to become better.

That’s my motivation……what’s yours?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Derick Carver served in the United States Army, enlisting in 2005 and earning his commission in 2007. After commissioning as a 2LT in the Army Derick completed Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School, Mechanized Leader School and Ranger School. Derick reported to Fort Bragg, NC and served with the 82nd Airborne as a Platoon Leader for both Charlie and Delta Company 2-508th PIR. After his injury Derick recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center before reporting to 4th Ranger Training Battalion serving as the S3 until medically retiring in May 2012.

He currently resides in Shelby Township, MI where he is planning on opening his own Crossfit gym (once approved BST Crossfit), set to open March 30, 2013 in Shelby Township. Derick grew up in southern California and was active in multiple sports before going to college to play football. Graduating from Eastern Michigan University, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in History. The Army, Portsmouth Spartan Kettlebell Club, 810 Crossfit and 2POOD are major influences in Derick’s Crossfit approach. All have influenced his approach and helped guide him and his gym down what he hopes will be a successful path.