“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
During my first year at West Point, one of the many things required of a Plebe was to memorize "The Days." Upperclassmen quizzed us daily on how many days until the seniors received their class ring, how many days until Army beats Navy in the classic Army-Navy football game, how many days until the seniors graduate and so on. Needless to say, my life evolved into a series of countdowns. I failed to live for the moment – instead, I lived for the day when I would not be a Plebe anymore or the day when I would graduate from West Point.

This mentality continued throughout my time in the Army. In fact, my calendar was the centerpiece of my tiny room in Tikrit, Iraq. Every day survived represented one day down and one day closer to returning home. However, the major problem with my countdown was that I failed to cherish the nights spent playing cards and philosophizing with my soldiers, the thoughtful care packages and letters I received from my dear family or, most importantly, the precious telephone conversations with my husband who was stationed a short (but painfully distant) 20 miles away. In retrospect, these are the moments to be cherished.

Simply put, from this point forward, my life will be lived NOW. Instead of excessively charting my next milestone in life, I will let "time" turn the pages of my calendar. My life will focus on the beauty that exists in moments that are happy, lonely, exhilarating and disappointing. How regretful it would be to let another countdown overshadow life's most cherished moments!

— Jamie Holden