Afghanistan, Simon Sinek, & Rambo’s Passing

By: Michael Blankenship |

“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”
~Paul Kalanithi

Greetings from LA and Hawaii.

This week we listened to a Navy SEAL describe his harrowing experiences in Afghanistan, watched Simon Sinek argue that there’s “value to being an idiot”, read a cartoonist’s ode to the passing of his pooch, and looked at earth from 4 billion miles away. Our challenge is for you to go on a date with someone you love.

“I can smell death”

In 2005, Marcus Luttrell and three other Navy SEALs deployed to Afghanistan to take out Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Shortly after arriving, the SEALs were discovered by a pair of goat herders and over 100 bleating goats. Their mission compromised and left with an impossible decision (kill the civilians, tie them up and leave them — but then what to do with the herd of goats? — or let them go), the team decided to let them go free.

Shortly thereafter, the SEALs were attacked by an avalanche of AK-47 fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars cascading down the mountain.

In the end, all the SEALs were killed except for Marcus Luttrell, who escaped by the skin of his teeth. This story has now been turned into a bestselling book and a movie. And recently, Joe Rogan hosted Marcus Luttrell on episode #1622 of his podcast. The two of them discuss the reality behind Luttrell’s experiences, the emotional training required to go to war, and other fascinating topics. We highly recommend checking it out.

Be The Idiot

Simon Sinek, world-renowned author and international speaker, thinks leaders shouldn’t be afraid of asking questions that make them look stupid. He recently shared a video on his Facebook page titled, “Be The Idiot” (you can watch the 2-minute clip here). In it, he says,

“I’m an idiot. And I’m not being flip about it. Like I don’t understand very complicated things. So I ask a lot of questions until I do understand…

Because I’m okay being the idiot… the reality is, once I can get to the point that I understand it — when I can get it so simple that I understand it — I can say it in simple terms. That means other people understand it, too. So there’s a lot of value in being the idiot.”

Rambo’s Passing

The beloved cartoonist and ingenious founder of The Oatmeal (which is famous for comics like The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances and How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You, which are hilarious and unexpectedly thoughtful), Matthew Inman, just suffered the passing of his 13-year-old pooch named Rambo, who was the inspiration for the comic, My Dog: The Paradox.

Inman’s ode to Rambo’s passing is a wonderful representation of how a stoic-minded person views death. Here it is:

My dog Rambo passed away on March 29, 2021. He’s the inspiration behind “My Dog: The Paradox.”

On Saturday, Rambo was his usual self. He was goofy, playful, and hilarious. He ate. He barked. He pooped. He attacked his dinosaur plush toy.

On Sunday, he was very sick. We took him to the vet and they did an ultrasound. They found a tumor on his liver and fluid in his abdomen. They tried emergency surgery, but during the operation they found that the mass had metastasized to his other organs and he was bleeding internally. While he was under anesthesia for surgery, we made the decision to put him to sleep.

I’m really struggling to make sense of losing him. He was old, but this is still a shock. Rambo has been with me for the past 13 years. He’s my first pet I’ve owned as an adult. I hate the fact that I keep replaying our last moments together. I keep thinking about being in the car with him on the way to the vet. The emergency animal hospital was in a strip mall next to a dollar store. It was cold and dark out. I keep thinking about how I tried to make our last car ride meaningful. I told him he was a good boy. I told him I loved him. But it was awful. I was sobbing. He was confused. This wasn’t a warm, memorable place. This place was cold and alien to both of us.

These thoughts keep repeating in my mind like a car accident. I keep perseverating on his final day, as if that defined our time together.

But it didn’t. We had thirteen years together. That’s 4,745 days where I got to hang out with my best buddy, Rambo. That’s thousands of times where I left the house for 20 minutes, returned, and he went completely bonkers when I arrived. That’s thousands of walks, pets, treats, tummy rubs, hilarity, and pure, unrelenting joy. I gave him a lifetime of doggy happiness and in return I got 13 years of love. It’s okay that on his final day we weren’t at 100%. It’s okay that he died.

But I still really miss him.

4 Billion Miles

Before we take ourselves too seriously, it would do all of us well to be reminded of just how big the universe is… and just how small we are.

Extra Stuff

Here are some articles that caught our eye this week…

Staying Positive by AVC

I Make $124,000 As An International Tax Manager & I’ve Never Negotiated by Refinery29

NASA twins study shows a year in space causes thousands of genetic changes by Cnet

What’s Going on Inside Woodpeckers’ Brains? by Atlas Obscura

How to Pick the Right Credit Card for a Major Purchase by Nerdwallet

The Weekly Challenge

This week we’re challenging you to go on a “date” with someone you love. This could mean taking your significant other to dinner, going to get beer or wine with some friends, or even taking your kid for a hike. When all is said and done, these relationships are what will matter most to each of us. And it’s a great week to rekindle them.

Until next week!

Mike & Alec

Join the movement below and challenge yourself to be better every week!