That was what happened to just one of the 9 bullets that entered Utah State Parks Ranger Brody Young’s body two years ago when he was ambushed and shot while on duty in Moab. Some of the other bullets passed through, broke up, were cut out. But the one that entered his heart could not stay. His heart would have none of that.
I met Ranger Young at a luncheon this week where nearly 50 college scholarships were awarded to the survivors, wives and children, of men who had been killed on the job. These scholarships are provided by Workers Compensation Fund, an act of corporate generosity and community leadership that inspires me, and I believe raises the bar for all companies in Utah. But what I want to write about today is something Ranger Young said when he spoke.
He said that after he had been shot, and was lying there alone in the canyon, bleeding intensely and unable to reach the station on his radio, he had that moment where he thought, “Do I die or do I return fire? Do I die or do I try to get back to my vehicle and call for help?” As I remember his description, it was a decision that likely lasted a second but felt much longer. And then he told us, “What you train, you do.” He said that at that moment, he felt no anger, no animosity. He just did what he trained to do.
He rolled, took a breath. Rolled, took a breath. He returned fire. He wounded his attacker. He got to the vehicle and called for help. This is what he had trained to do. He heard the familiar voice on the other end of the radio tell him help was on the way. The best doctor for miles around was on call that day. He knew if he could just keep breathing. . .
As I listened to him, I felt the tears in my eyes and a well of courage somewhere in me. Perhaps I was borrowing some from the blonde man at the podium who somehow lived through that attack years ago to tell us his story. “What you train you do.” I know the ranger was continuing with his remarks, but I kept hearing that phrase. I felt the power of it. Whatever we train to do in our lives is what we will do in the hour when we are under attack.
And so it has been for me. I have no training in anything comparable to the ranger. The only thing I have ever done consistantly in my life is love people, build them up, and find a way to see the best in them. And so when I have come under fire in my own small way, I have gone back to my training, as well. Love people. Love them. What else can you do? See what is good in them. This is who you are.
Ranger Young has not told his story until now, has not been able to tell it for all these months because the case is still open. But now that he is allowed to, he is glad to share it. “There are so many miracles in it,” he said. Yes. There are miracles in it, in him. In all of us.
What you train, you do. What is your training? How has it helped you in times of attack or struggle? How has it let your mind rest in the comfort of effort already expended, almost like the Olympic athlete steps up to the blocks, knowing he has run this 100 meters a thousand times before. He can do this in his sleep. Let go and let the training guide him.
And if you don’t like where your training is guiding you, then rethink your training today. Today, and everyday, may be the day your heart “pushes the bullet out.”