Monthly Archives: July 2016

Perspective

Maybe it’s all of the sky you see up there in the north.

Down here the world seems so small.

The hills and trees block off the horizon.

Up there I was aware of how far I could go.

Here I felt trapped in the hollow.

I had no limits when I could see miles into the distance.

Here I felt I had no way to escape the green scene that swallowed me.

The terrain of the nature I find myself in used to direct my perspective because nature was where I thought I was living.

Now I see it as another place to travel through.

My mind is now my home and it’s neverending.

Like the universe.

Universe’s?

I’ll find my way through. 

At least it isn’t walls or woods I’m trapped in anymore.

My mind is much brighter than it was in many ways.

I can live here so I can live anywhere, comfortably.

Perspective. Refreshed. Ever changing.

The power in personal accountability.

A man builds a bench. 

People sit on the bench.

The bench breaks.

The man blames the nails and builds another bench using different nails.

People sit on it.

It breaks again.

This time he blames the wood.

He uses different wood and nails to build a new bench.

People sit on it.

It breaks again.

Nothing left to blame for the injuries that occured than his own craftsmanship.

So he takes a class.

He builds another bench with the original wood and the original nails.

People sit on it.

It stays strong. No one falls. No one is hurt.

He’s proud of his work and people compliment his skills.

When he offered up excuses no one trusted his abilities to craft any object.

As they sat in every chair they were aprehensive, on guard, nervous.

When he blamed their weight for the collapse they were hurt and offended.

They wouldn’t return to buy his goods.

When the man owned up he was able to build strong seats. Craft quality products. He gained a new clientele with these goods. 

Word spread. 

Old clients heard and became less skeptical. They gave him a chance again. His new skills and well built furnishings were proof of his newly developed talents.

The old customer told people he was better now. They bought furniture that proved to be worth what he charged. 

They had faith in his skills because it had proven to be reliable and the changes he made were obvious.

Proof was given in real things, not empty promises and hollow words.

His business was now thriving because he stopped blaming the variables and improved himself.

This is the best example I could think of to describe the power that lies in personal accountability. Full personal accountability. Blaming no other variable for things that occur.

There are reasons for almost everything. But justifications hardly ever help someone to grow.

Sometimes life requires an explanation. But there are rarely acceptable excuses. None that actually mean anything, anyway.

When someone insists upon looking outside of themselves for these reasons, justifications, explanations, and excuses they become too distracted with everything that exists in a realm outside of their control and begin to ignore what they are capable of creating change in; the things inside of themselves.

No one is perfect. Mistakes are made. Even a person who takes full responsibility for their actions in most occasions can find fault in the external from time to time.

No growth occurs in these situations.

I crave growth.

I crave wisdom.

I crave accountability that paves way for positive change.

I learned long ago what enabled me to make these changes and I grew up.  Not all at once. Quickly, though.

When my mother died I felt very weak. She had always been so strong. She was so strong that no one around her had to be strong within themselves.

If something very difficult occurred I would call her. She would either help me find the solution or listen quietly as I worked it out myself, only interjecting her opinion to nudge me in the right direction.  Always letting know I had her support.

When she died, I felt lost. A lot of people did. She was a force of nature.

The best thing she did for me was to allow me to absorb her strength by being an excellent example for me.

The moment I realized that her strength wasn’t gone from this world but, instead, had been given to me like a priceless type of inheritance, I grew. I grew more in the following year than in the decade before.

I learned to rely on myself and I learned that I was, indeed, strong enough to face any obstacle I encountered. I was strong. A certain amount of strength is required in order to face failure without folding.

I also found a great deal of strength in recognizing my own limitations. By seeing my capabilities with honesty I was no longer exhausting myself by carrying too heavy a load. I learned to ask for help from qualified individuals because it’s easier to maintain a healthy spirit than to rebuild one that has been neglected, broken, and overworked. I realized my limits, pushed slightly past them to strengthen myself in order to grow somewhat stronger, then let others help me when it was necessary so no permanent harm was done.

The next attribute that helped me benefit from what I was personally responsible for in order to affect positive change was humility.

When I lived inside of myself I lived in my own ego. Often times it wasn’t the type of an egocentric nature that made me feel better than or above others. Quite the opposite. I felt unworthy and unlovable.  I hardly had the motivation to do the work that creates growth. I felt low and small and as if I deserved the bad. So much so that I didn’t even bother to attempt to live in the good.

Or, even when I felt somewhat worthy of good things, I would doubt that my comfort or well being was worth anything more than another person’s. I often had an unbalanced measurement, one that worked to my disadvantage, that made me believe the discomfort that would befall others if I did what was necessary to keep myself healthy was unfair to them and this often caused me to accept negative treatment that I didn’t deserve.

Other times I felt that because of what had been done to me that someone, somewhere, owed me something. It felt like a good excuse for my bad behavior and that mentality kept me feeling like a victim every moment of every day.  I stayed in that mentality too long because it was easier than doing the work necessary to make a real positive change.  

There was absolutely no benefit in these excuses. I stayed stuck. I stayed sick. I stayed the same. I was in pain but had an explanation for it so I thought it was OK. It wasn’t and I needed to grow up and out of it or I was going to be that way forever.

When I began to see myself as an equal to others I saw that I deserved no more and no less. I was no longer humiliated I was humble. I was no longer complacent and living in justifications, I was right sized and ready to change and correct bad behaviors.

I don’t take credit for things I don’t have a right to and I try not to place blame on others unless I have to, even when they deserve it. I typically don’t run around gossiping about others bad behaviors but when I’m asked to and feel compelled to be honest I won’t lie for them. I won’t lie for anyone. It isn’t constructive or conducive to healing and personal improvement or advancement. 

I own what I have a right to. I take responsibility for what I’ve done because being equal to the rest leaves me no room to attribute myself with more or deny myself of the rest.  I don’t take undeserved punishment and I won’t inflict it upon another to benefit myself in any way. 

The depletion of prideful nature allowed me to make real ammends. No excuses attached. No offerings of justification or explanation to deplete the sense of honesty that came with my apologies.  My survival wasn’t dependant upon their acceptance of my apology, either. I had gained strength to thrive without them. I had gained self worth and that came from doing good. 

I proved to myself I was worthy of a good life by living one.

I had gained the ability to practice a healthy sense of humility that made self awareness possible and non destructive. When I stopped feeling I was owed something and stopped focusing on what had been done to me, I stopped feeling like a victim. I took the power from the hands of those who had hurt me and decided to hold the reigns myself.

I realized who I was, what I was capable of, what I was responsible for, what I needed to improve, and what I had power over.

When I could look at myself and my actions instead of focusing on the affect that people, places, and things I had no control over had in the circumstances I faced, I was finally able to take hold of a dormant power. I could change things. I could grow. 

Strength, humility, and self awareness were the attributes that made accountability possible for me. I can truly focus on what is beneficial now. I can see what I am capable of creating change in. I can grow.

Of course I had to be willing to do the work. I had to accept whatever came my way.  A lot of unexpected changes occured and I had to be flexible and open  minded.  

Attributes cannot be strengthened if strength isn’t put into practice. Defective personality traits can’t be changed or lessened without humility and the awareness that they exist and belong to you entirely are realized and put to work.

There is no excuse for bad behavior after these principles are put into practice. There is no sincerity in an apology heavily laden with excuses.

You can tell someone you love them every day but they won’t believe it, not even one time, if your behavior proves otherwise. They won’t believe it one time if the words “I love you are followed by the word “but…”. Then your love has become conditional. I don’t believe in conditional love.

Accountability moves us forward while denial only keeps us stuck in negativity, losing people who have heard the excuses too often.  No one will know who I really am if they’re always running away or being replaced and I want to be known. I want to be known for who I am.  

Accountability makes me better and paves the way for long lasting and real relationships, truly fixing the harms done and making wrongs right. It creates trust and respect. It is an action of integrity. 

It is necessary in my life. 

The man building the bench wouldn’t have succeeded had he continued to blame the variables. 

He would have lost everything he worked for and he would have had to start over completely had he made the decision  to give up.

Persecution 

The mentally ill or those who are assumed to be, have suffered under unfair persecution since they started diagnosing people with mental defects. A good portion of them are just people who think in a way most “normal” people couldn’t hope to.  Or folks who feel emotions in a way that your typical person doesn’t understand. It takes a good bit of time to learn how to harness that kind of power. Warning, you’ll probably get locked up in the process. 

A friend of mine was recently put into an asylum because he said some things on social media that his paranoid parents didn’t understand. He had been in mental health units before so, each time they attempted to put him back in, his previous visits made it much easier to accomplish that.  Unfortunate. This is how most get trapped.

Google a list of reasons someone can get locked away in the state you live in. I did. What I learned is that we should basically all visit a behavioral medicine unit to be evaluated at some point. We are all absolutely insane based on the lists I’ve been browsing. And, if at any point in time you have taken an anti depressant or any type of psych med you are GOING IN THE NUT HOUSE. All it takes is one person to do it in some places and they require absolutely no proof of their accusations to stick you in there. What. The. Hell. Man?

I had depression when I was younger. It was trauma based, situational, never a chemical imbalance. I was too young to understand what had been done to me and what I had been through and what is still happening unfortunately. One doctor said I was bipolar for a minute. Turns out that, according to most psychiatrists I’ve spoken to, it was highly unethical for him to drastically change my previous diagnosis from years before just a few weeks after my mom died.  F****d my life up, big time.

 After seeing me for as little as five minutes he decided I needed to take handfuls of pills that my brain didn’t really need. I didn’t lose my mind, though I should have, after having someone stomp on it with pharmaceuticals for nearly a year. As it turns out he is known around town for being the “go to guy” to get benzo prescriptions. 

Why did this happen?

Plans. Plans I didn’t understand until now.

Some were drafted by men while other plans were typed up by God himself. I’m just gonna go with it.

Some people won’t let you escape some situations. They’ll do everything they can to drag you down with them. I don’t understand these people.  I don’t understand modern psychology. It’s no mystery at this point in our evolution that, we as a society, REALLY like pills. That’s enough of that now, people. It’s been said out loud by millions of people billions of times and it is still happening. 

Compare it to this scenario if you will; suboxon and methadone don’t make you not a drug addict. They make you addicted to suboxon and methadone.  

I understand folks with severe mental illness do need a little chemical leveling with the help of some of these medications but, holy hell, how did every bored housewife get a prescription to Ativan and Xanax? What is happening?

It’s become the answer. It is far from the solution. Especially in young ones. I was 16 when I was diagnosed with depression after I met 3 requirements on a vague 10 question checklist. They put me on Prozac. That was one of the only prescriptions the medical doctor who prescribed it knew of. Ahhhhhhhh. Run away, young me! Run awaaaay!

In all honesty I was struggling with childhood trauma. And I wouldn’t tell anyone about it. I didn’t mention a word of it to anyone until I was 17. It spilled out of me when I was drinking. Had I just been honest about the issue and open to discussing it I could have avoided years years years of misfortune. Most recently at the hands of some people who have decided to use the unfortunate incidents of my past to make themselves feel better about some stuff. I won’t go into detail about them. They aren’t important.

I have encountered this story before, though. I recognize a few familiar faces in the stories I find myself relating to during this trying time. They are out there in great numbers. Most have good intentions but, some don’t.  They use your history of mental instability to keep you unstable. To get out of trouble by making a case against you to cast doubt in a judge’s eyes or in the community opinion pool and make you look insane. They do it to gain control. Sometimes they want control because they are legitimitely afraid of you. Sometimes they overreact and fear that because you are capable of feeling strong emotions that would topple and cripple them that you will hurt yourself. Sometimes they just want to get out of trouble and your imagined insanity is a pretty good excuse.  No amount of evidence after the fact would do once they have painted a picture of you as a crazy person. Not when what you’ve been through is seen as a defect by most. Guess who was crazy. Van Gough.  Dude cut his ear off and stuff. He died poor and now he is seen as a visionary genius. I know that isn’t commonplace. I’m not saying I am him or like him. I don’t think I have what it takes to cleve off my own body parts. Ears are important. I’m keeping both of mine. 

Sensitive and traumatized folks need to be careful of the company they keep, though. It’s no mystery that a good portion of the people we meet are up to no good. I’m not being paranoid. I’m not an idiot, though. I see them. I avoid them. Or I fall in love with them because apparently I’m an idiot. I’m gonna save them! Ha! Nope. Doesn’t work. Moving on.

Some will use your supposed weakness to try and keep you weak. They don’t realize how much strength you had to have to make it out. 

Some are burned by the fire while others are fortified by it. 

Mental illness of the past just became a weapon in someone’s hands. Good thing I made it through that “illness” because I gained a very special skill set and strength that folks like them will never know. They couldn’t hold the weight of what I’ve learned if they raised an army to help them hoist it.  
Show me your army. My two marines and myself should do just fine against them. Ooh rah.

Huh?

Rah.

My friends used to call me Rah. Makes sense now. 

I dislike the injustice. Guess what! Justice doesn’t truly exsist here on Earth. We developed systems of order. We did that. Humans. Those systems are made up of people. Peopley people. There are some REALLY peopley people out there. Depending on all of the variables, sometimes those people fail to see the truth. Or they do and they can’t do anything about it because of the way the system that people made is designed and the limitations of the people in charge of it or the circumstances and quality of the people who represent other people. Etc. Blah blah blah

 People.

They’re fallible.

That means they make mistakes.

Good thing this isn’t the plain of exsistence I’m concerned with. My spirit has much further to travel. I fear for those who limit themselves by conducting themselves in a way that the really humany humans have told them they should. It’s like they can’t even feel the souls they carry anymore. They certainly don’t hear them. 

Don’t call me crazy for speaking of talking souls. Some call it your conscious. I have my own ideas. Having my own ideas and having a place to speak about them without being told I’m insane before I can explain is really nice.

I like it here.

I wanna live in this blog.

People like me fear our emotions and our thoughts like that. We have to carefully monitor what we do and say. We know how easy it is for you all to stuff us in a padded room because we make you uncomfortable. Or because it is just easier to ignore us. Or because you want something and if you make people believe we’re insane no one will listen to us.

I never had a desire to kill anyone or myself. But my emotional capacity scared people who weren’t capable of withstanding the emotional currents I had to force my way through. Those stormy seas were difficult to navigate and to survive. 

People like me are taught not to trust. They call our avoidance of people “social anxiety” or something like that. Pfft. Honestly, hun. I was usually just afraid of many of you because of what many others have done. 

“Normal”. Yuck. “Popular”. Eeewwwww. “Sane”. Like anyone even knows what that means anymore. 

I didn’t like to run with the herd. When you join a mob of anything you’re not allowed to use your brain anymore. You have to start thinking and doing and eating and wearing and talking about and WHATEVER WHATEVER WHATEVER! Not my thing. I gave it a good try but that crap got me in trouble. I wasn’t in the “wrong crowd” either. All crowds are the wrong crowd for me, to be honest. Too many rules that don’t make any real sense. I like what I like. I like who I like. If I get fat at some point I can hide until I’m cool with my new skin and adjust to my newly super-sized and awesome self and no one misses me in the meantime. It’s pretty awesome. 

We learn to live without flocks of friends and followers. We don’t need approval. We don’t need to be told we are right. We develop clear and powerful internal moral standards and compasses. We stand alone often because mob mentality doesn’t make any man or woman right. And it is downright dangerous, historically speaking, to think like that. So, we avoid the mobs. They ask us to think like they do and we can’t. I won’t.

When a person like me finds their way out of the pain that once pinned them down in an overwhelmed and panicked state, getting through things that would cripple most humans seems easy and almost effortless.  Just allow me a moment alone to let myself feel what is natural. Let the waves roll. I don’t fight against them anymore, I ride them to safety.
Then it’s done. The pain is there in a smaller sense but it’s not as bad as pain I once lived in for years on end. It’s not as bad as it was when it began. Shortly, it goes away completely because, at some point, I realized that pain does pass

When I was younger I didn’t know that. When people kept telling me I was sick I thought the pain would last forever. 

“I have what now? An invisible disease in my brain that may or may not require medication that could possibly make me want to kill myself even though the only reason you’re prescribing it to begin with is because I’m sad? What? The f**? Sense? My brain wants my body to die? What? This person says my brain wants my body to die. There’s a demon in me. This book says that’s basically what’s happening here. I drew that conclusion. Yes. That is a summary of my own, but, you read the literature and tell me that’s not what they’re saying, friend in 10th grade. We will figure this out together. We are soooo much smarter than alll of the adults. There is some type of mythical beast inhabiting parts of my brain that doctors and scientists don’t understand and it’s possibly gonna be there until I die. Soon probably. Based on these statistics. F***ing gnomes up there or something. Sh** is unbelievable. I thought I had PMS but apparently I was mistaken because the medical doctor who knows very little about brains wants me to take a pill that could possibly make me want to kill myself. I guess if it’s one type of beasty up there it gets weaker with the pills but if it’s the other kind of beasty it is going to, like, hijack my synapses and do some type of pod people sh** and I’m gonna wake up covered in blood and have no idea how I got to the couNtRY OF CHINA! WHAT THE LITERAL F***.”  

El fin. That was fun. Thanks for playing.

I was a child. A traumatized one. The trauma was my secret. Then ALLLLLLL of that pubescent nonsense rattled around in my immature brain like a barbed bouncy ball, ripping squishy magical brain bits to shreds.  I wanted to give up but I never could. Today I learned why.  

People are people and they’re not perfect.  They make mistakes. Sometimes it isn’t fair. Sometimes you suffer and no one seems to care. Even if they do care, sometimes, they just don’t have the power to do anything about it. 

Most people are afraid. Mostly of what they don’t understand. To protect themselves they pretend to know everything and only listen to those who agree. Such is life.

I’m not focusing on fair anymore. It is absolutely exhausting. And what people think is of no concern to me. Those who do know me, the important people, they know what’s real and what’s not. 

Most importantly, I know.  Every moment of excruciating sadness served a purpose. A sense of self without limitation or expectations. Without the need for approval or a single soul to agree.  My goal is not as near sighted as it once was. I can see into the distance now.  The world is HUGE. The universe is even bigger. God only knows what is out there and beyond all of this. I feel strongly that a true judge is watching. He/she/it knows. Knows every damn thing. Men are too easily fooled. By men I mean humans and not specifically things with penises.

 Every single thing mattered. I absorbed it all with my eyes, heart, and mind wide open and humility and awareness to help me accept some facts about the world that taste bitter and feel cruel.  Can’t taste the sweet without the salty, though. 

Ah, the yin and the yang.

I’ve been pinned down for some time now. The struggle isn’t over. Most of the pain I felt earlier today was selfish and naive. It took only hours for me to heal my wounded heart by recognizing the true source of my emotions and allowing myself to feel what I felt was appropriate under the direction of my moral code.

 Writing this has helped. Talking at my sister always helps.  Being reminded of what is in the distance helped. Realizing my strength helped.

Perspective. Hard earned maturity. Conquer over greater tragedies strengthened me for this.  It doesn’t take long for me to find order in chaos. Mostly because I refused to give up when many would have, and many did. Knowing myself well enough to give my good qualities the steroids and to tell my bad qualities to sit down and shut the hell up has become extremely useful. 

I knew I would have to fight harder. I’m outnumbered. My history has scars on it. I don’t catch breaks.  That’s exactly what made me strong enough to do this. 

I long for the day when the science of psychology improves. When they realize that medicine makes some people worse and that therapy isn’t enough for some and all of that helpful stuff that lies in the middle somewhere. 

Etc. Etc. Etc.  

For now, we are guinea pigs. How could anyone take a face like that seriously? I got off of the wheel and out of the cage, though. I’m just trying to find a way to safe pastures before a snake eats me.  

I’m a woman with faith in action.  My Higher Power will get me where he needs me and I finally have the self worth and sense of self to be confident that I know what I am and what’s best for me.  I fought through a lot to gain that knowledge. I’m keeping it because I earned it and I deserve it.

 I’m sure this post will be widely misinterpreted by a few lawyers in particular and entered into evidence, too. Hi there. 

If you don’t know me and you are reading this, I’m writing this for you, not them. 

The one thing that helped me out of the cage was realizing my true nature, accepting it, owning it, building up the good and working to turn the bad into more good.  

I know my super power now. All of us “crazy” people have one if we live long enough to develop it.

Mine is my protective nature. Anyone who really knows me knew that about me before I was able to admit it. I wandered along looking for someone to protect me for too long. Instead of giving me what I wanted, my Creator taught me how to protect myself and reminded me again today, when the man in the black robe did what he was required to do by giving someone he didn’t know the benefit of doubt. I was swiftly reminded of who I am really here to protect. And it’s not myself. 

Justice for me doesn’t really matter. I don’t need it. I was upset at first but not because of the obvious. My brain doesn’t work like that. I hated the smug illusion that was created at that moment.  But, I was quickly reminded of what was really important. That something isn’t me either.

I’m important. Don’t get me wrong. But I matter to a larger thing now that I don’t limit myself to accepting and craving the Itty bitty thing a lot of people are obsessed with fitting into and obeying. That infinite thing showed me we’ve all got a cozy little spot somewhere. We all matter. At different times, different places, different ways, etc. That won’t make sense to some. Those of you who do understand it have probably seen some sh**. And I’m glad you made it out. Keep going.

I started writing this to work out the clutter. My mind is like an enormous library. At one time all of the books were on the floor. They’re on shelves now. I’m still trying to organize them. This is one section of my life’s collective knowledge that I have dusted and alphabetized. 

With every word I write here I explore another chapter and I let you read it too. I hope you benefit from it.  If I had read words like this when I was young things may have been different for me. 

There were no blogs back then because I am, indeed, a dinosaur according to you young people. 

Just kidding I’m 32. So I’ve seen some really cool stuff happen. Really bad stuff too. When I was originally diagnosed with depression the internet had only just begun. Encyclopedias gave clinical definitions. I didn’t relate much to the elderly male psychiatrists I encountered so I didn’t trust them to know the whole truth which is why I’ll say what bears repeating. 

My struggle is something I will continue to share with any and all of you. Every bit of it will come out in time. It would be selfish of me to keep it all hidden in fear or shame as I know that all I needed when I was young was something to relate to. 

A word, a face, a poem, a book.  

Something happens when you feel unusual, outnumber, overwhelmed, and alone.  In those times we are most likely to give up. People have a lot to learn about folks like me.  They could learn a lot FROM folks like me too.  

We’ll get there. You’ll get there. Maybe I’ll get there too.  In the mean time, my faith is in myself and my Higher power because people are full of faults and often fail.  We’re made that way so people are just a silly thing to have faith in.  

 I stopped asking them to save me long ago. No one will fight harder for me than I will. At one point I just didn’t care enough about myself to do that but now, I do, that has made me unstoppable. 

There are bumps. BIG ONES. That sh** will HURT!  I learned today that as long as I don’t turn those bumps into mountains I was meant to climb and not carry, I will make it to the other side. 

I heard that saying for the first time this year.  “These mountains you were carrying, you were only meant to climb.” Najwah Zebian

Today it made sense in every possible way that I am currently capable of understanding. 

I hope I can explain what I mean by that someday but I need you to take from it what you need to go further.

Someday people who call themselves normal and sane and even the ones who look good on paper but behave like beasts behind closed doors or when you get in their way will have as little power over you as they do over me at this point in my life. 

The battles are long, exhausting, and you will lose sometimes. You will also lose people you really love. But, if you give up at any point it takes longer. If you give up completely you won’t get there at all. 

Don’t let it all out in front of anyone you don’t trust. Don’t trust anyone that you are suspicious of because your intuition knows things and somehow sees beyond the lies they tell and walls they’ve built. The key to that particular super power lies somewhere in the magical squishy brain bits that haven’t yet been explored and defined. Maybe. Or maybe that’s what our appendix is for. Who the hell knows really?! Not me! That’s for sure.

Someday we’ll know more about the brain and trauma. Mostly because they experimented on us. Some of us have had to pay dearly, over and over again. Some of us lost our lives.  

It is getting better out there, though.  I can see it improving even within my own limited lifetime. I think it’s because we aren’t hiding anymore. 

They have to feel they understand us to be comfortable. I feel safe airing it out now from here, on the other side of the pain. If you’re still in it, anonymity is necessary at times but in the safety of a legally bound psychiatrists office let them know every piece. I wish I had.  

I hid for too long. Gave one doc a bit, another got a different portion, etc.  By denying a trusted and qualified and intelligent professional the whole picture I only prolonged my sadness. They wouldn’t have thought as negatively of me as I did of myself. They wouldn’t have called me crazy like I had feared they would. They would’ve known the problem and the way to help me through it.  A few moments of discomfort at the beginning would have remedied and prevented decades of discomfort and desolate pain.

So.

That’s done.

Bye
 

 

Light in the darkness

A very small light shines brightly in the night. 

It is never overwhelmed by the dark.

One small flickering flame fights effortlessly against miles of black. 

It’s all anyone can see.

Their eyes are trained on it.

They forget the sorrow when they see their hope alive.

One small light.

In comparison and scale it seems unimportant and insignificant.

But, the light, it shines anyway and it is all anyone can see.

Why the meek and mild will inherit the Earth.

If you look hard enough, and you will have to put forth substantial effort, you will find a beautiful wisdom living inside of the shy.  Something wonderful happens to a person who spends more time involved in quiet observation than thoughtless chatter and self promotion. Listening rather than talking. Studying life in all it’s forms and functions. A purposeful intelligence is inherant to the meek.  And they’ll be the last to tell you they possess it. If you earn their trust you’ll be in awe of what they have come to know inside of their silence. Listening. Watching. Paying attention to anyone but themselves.  

The silent thinkers who’ve spent hours awake in the dark know nearly every corner of their own minds and have felt every soft and rough fiber of their being. They’ve scratched every itch from the inside and know themselves too well.  With the unquenchable thirst for knowledge, they look outward for more truth. 

Rarely able to muster enough courage to ask the questions they need answered,they look to actions and behavior to solve their curiosities.  They often sense the discord between what’s said and what’s being done. They see more than you’ll know. They know more than they’ll speak. A beautiful knowledge of humanity belongs to people such as these.

The traveling memorial

Something amazing happened today.  My dad took me with him to the traveling Vietnam memorial wall.  

Last night I couldn’t sleep in anticipation.  I was certain I’d lose it entirely at that wall, watching my dad read through names.  I imagined him finding someone familiar.  I imagined him feeling things he hadn’t felt in years.  Turns out the old man is a good bit tougher than I am.  Or far better at hiding his feelings. 

I cried like a baby when I saw the length of that wall.  I tried to be discreet and the wind did help, blowing hair over my wet eyes repeatedly. 

Then we reached this spot. 

This section, July of ’68.  That’s when dad arrived in country.  From that spot onward, I struggled with my composure. 

That’s when I really felt it all as my father searched for names he knew.  The meaning in the wall was crystal clear. 

I read a lot.  Lists of names and words in print tend to lose some meaning as time passes and I grow used to the sight of the letters and lists.  But here, with him, lists sprung to life. 

Each chiseled letter made out a name.  Each name was once attached to living, breathing human.  Most were young.  Dad was 18 when he got there.  

The wall came alive with faces I’d never seen.  They were flashing through my mind.  Sweating, smiling, filled with courage and honor and a sense of duty.  Filled with hope and a hell of a lot of fear.  I tried not to get into the dark reality.  I would have collapsed where I stood had I allowed my mind to imagine it.  All those young souls.  All gone. I erased the blood from the memories I’d just created. 

What lies in the picture below took the breathe from me.  I gave it to their memories so they could breathe once more as they appeared before me just then. 

Do you see the flags above the wall down the way?  One is yellow.  

Those flags flew dead center atop the long wall.  They mark the end of my father’s time in that place.  Not the end of his service,  though.  He had forest fires to fight when he got back, after all. 

I started thinking some thoughts just before I snapped this photo.  The names on that wall, as the height of the list gradually increased to plateau in the center to be feet higher than my head, were names of service men and women who had died while my dad was there with them.  

I nearly threw up. 

There were so many.  It was nearly half of the wall.  My mind was spinning.  

All of that loss of life. It was happening within miles, feet, inches of him.  I don’t know.  He doesn’t talk much about it. That magnitude of suffering, fear, the last moments of so many; the death must have hung heavy upon the humid air.  

That tragic effect of war must change the atmosphere of a place. I bet you could taste it.  I imagine the energy there was stifling and soul smothering.  

I wont ask him to describe it.  Though I’ve always been curious, we learned not to pry.  

Once, when I was in elementary school, I had a project to do.  I had an assignment.  I was to ask someone who had been to a different country about their sensory experience there and he was the only person I knew who had ever been outside of the United States.  Well, there were some who had been to Canada.  But, Minnesota and Canada are practically the same thing.  I didn’t think anyone would be excited to hear about that report. 

He agreed to it.  We did just fine with sight.  

Jungle.  Trees.  Lots of green leaves.  

I bet. 

We were still good at taste.  

He described some type of soup with fish eyes in it.  

Yum.  

Sound was where I noticed some agitation.  I don’t recall what he said exactly. I remember his answer being related to something loud. 

But, smell is where I stopped.  I stopped mid word while I wrote.  

After I asked he paused.  Then he simply said, “Rotting vegetation and bodies.” 

I closed my notebook and walked away. After thanking him of course. 

I remember peering back at him in his recliner from the end of the hall.  He seemed sad and slightly angry.  As an adult I now know that I have no idea exactly what he was sad about or who he was angry with.  

I didn’t ask things for a long time after that. 

I learned more today than I have in the last 32 years of my life about his time there while visiting that wall.  

This war thing is something no one can understand unless they’ve lived it, but is often described as the most painful and cruel experience a human being can withstand.  And each war is unique.  Each battlefield is different.  The jungles of Vietnam must have been sheer terror as so many veterans of that war in particular refuse to recall what occured. 

Or maybe it was the treatment they received upon coming home.  Shameful words of hate.  No parades.  Pure torture. 

He read some names aloud and I honestly couldn’t bear to think he’d known them.  He knew a few it seemed.  Some from bootcamp.  

The section of the wall in the photo below signifies the end of my fathers time there.  November of ’69.  Nearly every name on the wall before this spot, aside from a couple of short panels, were soldiers who lost their lives while my father shared that soil. 

Upon additional research I discovered he was there during the deadliest years of occupation. The numbers varied slightly by source, but only slightly. In 1968 around 16,800 American soldiers lost their lives there. In 1969 around 11,780 died. The year 1967 was heavy in losses as well. 

These are only the numbers for the American military members who died there.  So much death in such a brief period of time.  And he was there to feel it all.

Tears flowed forth.  I tried to hide them.  Dad was talking.  Then he tilted his head down so he could look up at me from the top of his happy blue eyes, and he smiled at me.  

I patted him on the back and we walked on.  

On to honor the rest.  Reading unfamiliar names and letting those strangers live in our hearts if only for the moment. 

He answered more of my questions.  How many people a plattoon was comprised of.  How hot it usually was. 

His best friend there was Azel, from Chicago.  A nice black dude.  They had a lot in common.  Azel must be an awesome fellow.  

He was also close with a T. C. and a Bobby.  One from Arizona.  The other he wasn’t sure. 

He recognized a name on the wall.  A guy from bootcamp who loved to smoke.  He frequently got caught smoking when he wasn’t supposed to so he would often be seen standing outdoors with a rifle hoisted high over his shoulders until he could no longer hold it there with drill Sargent’s yelling, all so he could get a puff. 

To think that he was gone.  

I wonder what stories his fellow soldiers would tell about my father if he had landed on that wall.  

I kept thinking of a picture he had once shown me.  He was standing with two young Vietnamese boys under his arms.  They were all smiling. They were all so young. 

58, 307.  Conflict. Something about that doesn’t sit right with me. 

We walked out eventually.  We walked past a chopper. He said he’d been in one of those. 

I asked if this was the one they hung from and jumped into the jungle from. He said, “No.  Those were bigger with men jumping from the tail end.”

We were driving out and he mumbled something about a deuce.  

A two ton truck.  He drove lots of those.  With jet fuel for downed helicopters, land mines, explosives, etc.  All of it rattling around in the vehicle with him as he sped through rough jungle roads.  No wonder they threw men like him into forrest fires in California when he got home. No one was crazy enough to go into the blazing inferno where they freely drove knowing one much worse was behind them. 

He was 17 when he enlisted. 18 when he went. Stayed over a year there.  Came home and bravely battled on to protect and serve for many others before his contract with the Marine Corps was over. 

His oldest daughter was born the month he deployed. 

He sold his uniform when he came home. 

Many pictures he had sent home were destroyed while he was still away. 

I grew up knowing hardly a thing. I learned more today than I have ever known.  I always knew one thing, though.  I’m proud to be his daughter. 

I always was. I always will be. 

He doesn’t have to tell me one thing about that war. His behavior and actions every day that I’ve known him are more than enough proof of his honor, sense of duty, and his selflessness.  

What he’s seen. What he’s been through. Only those who served alongside him will ever know about that. I just know he came home and rose above. He fought on. He didn’t let the unthinkable destroy any part of him. I’m sure he was lost for awhile. He was so young. But, the man I’ve always known has served me with a dignity,  integrity, and intelligence that is truly uncommon in this world. 

Thank God he isn’t on that wall. Thank all of you who ended up on it for sacrificing every piece of yourselves.

He said one thing to someone who thanked him for his service while we were there that I won’t soon forget.  

While many men walked the street with veterans hats and even uniforms, my father felt no need to let anyone know who he was. I made mention of his service to a man who handed me a pamphlet to see if there was a way to find military members from Minnesota.  As he walked away and thanked my father, dad said one simple thing that truly changed me. 

He said, 

“I would do it all again.”