Fresh Living

Fresh Living

Essayons: Let Us Try

Image107.jpgFor 9 years, my husband was an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Reserve).  During his time in the service, among other things, he helped build a medical center in Guatemala, jumped out of airplanes 7 times (on purpose!) and served a 14-month tour at the beginning of the war in Iraq, after which he resigned his commission and became a civilian.


There are many wonderful things about serving in the Army, from the pride, confidence, and discipline it instills to the feeling of being part of something larger than yourself.  And, as any soldier will tell you, there are also at least as many baffling, terrifying, and frustrating things about serving.

What does any of this have to do with Fresh Living?  Why, everything!  Because when I read Valerie’s heartfelt post about her crying-on-a-pile-of-laundry moment, (been there, blog sister!), I immediately thought of my favorite thing about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: its motto, “Essayons,” which is French for “Let us try.”


“Let us try.”  Not “do it or else,” not “be perfect the first time,” just “let us try.” So take a chill pill, Yoda, with your “do or do not – there is no try” guilt trip.  All we are asked to do is try.  And then try again, if necessary. 

It works so well as the motto for Army engineers, who are tasked with building bridges and airfields in all sorts of weird, unknown conditions.  In situations like that, there has to be a certain mental freedom–not to “try” carelessly, but to experiment confidently, knowing that you’re faced with a problem that has a solution, you just have to figure out what that solution is.

It also works as a personal life motto.  Many–many!–times, I have muttered “essayons” to myself as a way of bringing myself back to center, back to forward motion, away from the guilt of not being “there” yet and back to the solid, safe “castle” of my heart.  During Rob’s 14 month deployment, I said it multiple times a day.  “I don’t know how we’ll ever get through this,” I’d think, journal, write, or sob.  “But essayons.  Let us try.”

Do you have a life motto, something that helps you crawl out of the Bad Place when you fall–or get pushed–into it? 

  • Peggy1133

    My life motto has always been “Things happen FOR you, not TO you!” This hasn’t always been an easy mantra to live with, especially when I was going through the pain and grief of divorce and its aftermath such as relocating and financial distress. But the words inspire in me that there is a reason, and “a season and a time for every purpose, under heaven”(Ecclesiastes). When the smoke clears and I can see the light of a new day, I know that there is a purpose for the pain and the path I am on.
    I, too, was a military spouse and a marine, and many a day I felt the pain & loneliness of being ‘left behind’ to carry on while my spouse was off serving our country. But I knew I had my place in life, my purpose, and I was not a victim of circumstance, but also doing my duty. So although it can be tough to see the positive in my life at times, I must believe it all has a purpose, under heaven!

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment meltedplasticarmyguy

    I normally do not comment on anything, much less on sites like this, but I felt the need to do so for this. I myself was a army engineer for a time, with a few combat tours under my belt. To this day, even though I no longer wear the uniform or my beloved castle, I still hold true to “Essayons”. In 2010, knowing that I may never serve again, I put trust in my ethos and donated a kidney to a stranger who asked for help. With the life that I have lived and the things I was exposed to I knew that being a suitable match was a long shot, but damn it I was going to try. I quit smoking, slowed alcohol consumption, and started working out again. On July 16th of that year, I saved a life. I can never wear the uniform again, or the castle, but I shall always remain true to my motto and my oath.

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