Twice in the last few years I have declined requests by publishers to write a book about my time in Afghanistan and the few years after that as I trained and eventually won the USA Memory Championship twice. I declined for several reasons:
2. I have 4 journals of my time in Afghanistan as I wrote in it every day. But I struggled with the idea of ‘exploiting’ my time over there for any type of personal gain.
3. Writing takes a LOT of time
4. Is there is some measure of egotism thinking, ‘Gee, my life is so interesting I am going to put it in a book so others can read it!’? Hmmmm….
5. My #1 mission is to build my memory training business and I shy away from anything that distracts from that. Would an autobiographical type book add or distract? hmmm….
Yet, with all this said. I have found myself the last week or so dusting off the journals and writing the book. For me it will be a cathartic experience. Putting some of the most intense times of my life on paper. Depending on how private the writing gets I may never publish it for public consumptions and may just be to pass down in my family. On the other hand, if it has value to publish and print I promise to make it a best seller with my marketing 🙂
Here is an excerpt from the first chapter……..
The early morning sun was breaking over the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan in mid July. The high altitude of the mountains created a brutal climate of winters so harsh that all life came to a halt. On other hand, this wasn’t winter. It was warm and crisp and in this part of the world that means the ‘killing season’. I looked out across a runway where America’s most massive and impressive weapons of war took flight with literally, military precision. Just feet from where I stood was a sign that read, ‘Pat Tillman USO’. It was a place of rest and recreation for military personnel in a country were rest and recreation were scarcer than seeing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the post season. The Pat Tillman USO was an ever-present reminder that no matter who you are, a NFL athlete, a doctor or a memory guy a bullet will stop your heart.
I was wrapped in 50lbs of body armor, desert camo from head to toe with the rank of E6 on my collar. In my grip was an M16 that had become an extension of my body in the short 3 weeks prior. I was only a month removed from my civilian career. The image of 4 weeks prior standing in a suit in front of 200 seminar participants who had each paid $199 to attend my memory training seminar in Wilmington, North Carolina was fresh in my mind.
Yet, here the Taliban didn’t care one ounce about my special memory techniques or the gift many said I had as a speaker to communicate with an audience. They didn’t care about the line of people who had recently stood in line to purchase my memory improvement book and have me sign it. Just as they didn’t care that Pat Tillman was an NFL millionaire. All they cared about is that they preferred me dead over alive and would see to it that this happens if given the chance. On this day I was on their turf. This wasn’t watching the war on CNN and it certainly wasn’t playing war in the backyard dressed in my dad’s army uniform. Back then my greatest danger was missing dinner and facing the discipline of my parents. Now, on Taliban ground my greatest danger was still not making it home for dinner, ever. What was I doing here? Oh God, what was I doing here?
The road that took me here and eventually led me to becoming a two time USA Memory Champion is a road that had forked 25 years prior and unknowingly changed the very course of my life.
It is a road that began when I was 11 years old…
(To be continued)