Category Archives: Inspiration

Believe them

If a blind man tells you it’s difficult to shop for groceries, you believe him.
If a bmx rider tells you it’s hard to take a turn on a bike with mud in his wheels, you believe him.
If a dog breeder tells you that certain breeds don’t get along in the yard, you believe them.
If a soldier says it’s hard to be thousands of miles from their family, you believe them.
When a figure skater says that learning to do a double axle is difficult you believe them.
You believe them.
Every time.
Because you KNOW that you don’t know.
So why when a minority or marginalized demographic tells you what they experience do you stand in disbelief?
There is evidence of what they say.
Centuries of history.
Acts on camera.
Laws of old.
But you don’t believe them.
I can only draw one conclusion.
You have something to cover or something to lose
You have too much pride and can’t admit that you’re wrong
You’re misinformed or naive.
You don’t know.
They do.
Believe them.

When I ask people to be objective, they can do it in any area outside of race and religion it seems.

I have a dog and you don’t? Let me tell you about dogs.

I have a degree and you don’t? Let me educate you.

Those who attempt to discredit what the persecuted claim to experience don’t seem to give it a second of thought.

It seems simple.

The 60’s weren’t long ago.

We aren’t perfect.

In comparison to other countries longevity, the United States is a teenager.

Our rebellion for the sake of liberty brought us into being.

That spirit is dying in some of us.

Half of us have aged without wisdom and turned into a comfortable and fat middle aged man with a desk and health insurance.

To keep his job he has to obey. Fall in line. Forget his dreams.

Thank God (if you have one) for the rest of us.

We won’t let that fighting spirit die.

That brave spark that screams, “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!”

And while you’re at it. Give it to my brothers and sisters as well.

Closed doors and closed minds feed the glutton and the bigot.

How can we stand for the anthem that depicts us as the home of the brave as we shut our doors to those who cry in desperate shrieks for assylum, all because we are AFRAID of a handful of terrorists that may resemble them.

That’s cowardice.

I love my country.

I love that flag.

That’s why we speak up.

Because only an arrogant fool could say we are perfect and have no need to improve.

We were once a world ruler on the basis of moral authority.

Equality.

Free speech.

Civil liberty.

Every one of those things is under fire.

That is why we rise. And, that is why we respectfully kneel.

This country isn’t what it was or could be.

So we let it be known that we are aware.

We are aware and loud so that our government might make a change.

No one is harmed. No one is dying for our protest.

Other than Heather Heyer. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Laquan Mcdonald. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Terrance Crutcher. Or any of the 309 black people killed by police in this country in 2016.

Or the many mentally ill or disabled Americans who were fatally wounded because they couldn’t communicate.

Hate and prejudice did this.

But it lives in the hearts of ill informed men.

Inequality is not a myth. Or an excuse.

It’s a reality and just because you haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

Many have seen it and been brave enough to stand against it.

What do they have to gain by protesting it?

Why would they make it all up?

More persecution?

More hateful words?

They aim for equality and Justice.

That’s all.

They want this country to be what that anthem dictates!

They want those words to be true.

I used to cry when I heard it played in an arena.

I believed that anthem when I was young.

Now I cry because we have strayed so far from those values.

We’ve become the antithesis of what we once believed in.

The day of the white man in charge has got to end. Others have proven to be just as valuable.

If you can’t play on an even playing field, that’s your fault, not theirs.

They want and deserve those inaliable rights.

Life.

Liberty.

The pursuit of justice.

Freedom.

The farmer and the viper

Aesop’s fables told us everything we needed to know as children.

I read a large volume, hard covered copy in the library many times as a child.

It was thick and heavy and felt full. I felt full holding it on that old library floor.

That old library used to be a church and the knowledge I found within continues to be sacred to me.

Aesop told a story of a farmer and a viper. For a class project in the 6th grade I acted it out in a play.

I picked that fable to act out because it struck me as important then. I dressed in a heavy flannel shirt and wore jeans and my dad’s old hat. I had a silk snake stuffed with sand as my antagonist. I used to collect those at craft fairs because they felt so real.

It all felt real that day in Mr. Moser’s class.

I was terrified. But I did my best to tell the tale.

Here is what I learned about the farmer and the viper…

It may be easiest to bite the hand that feeds you. After all, their hand is so near your fang. But, in the end, you stand to lose every ounce of sustenance that you have ever known. You will undoubtedly starve. Worse yet, you’ll live a life of shame thereafter. Shame you’ll never rid yourself of.

So, I beg you, reconsider your hasty reactions to words and actions that may displease you.

Please, do not bite the hand that feeds you.

WE will be damned every time for “pitying the scoundrel” and we can NOT expect a reward from the wicked.

For starzki on her journey

I thought I’d have this eye opening experience where life and my purpose would just click and make sense…. but here I sit 2 months into the trip of my lifetime, in a random country, where I know no one, and I feel so alone. I have no purpose, no path and it’s utterly confusing.  What am I doing? Why am I here? What am I actually looking for? Did I make a mistake? I’m 100% free from everything I thought I wanted to be free from. Wandering the world like a true gypsy… I belong to no man or no city, yet,
it’s like I’m trying to feel my way through the darkness. Searching for my people/my tribe. The one place I truly belong. Budapest has been the closest I’ve come… and, it scared  me…. they were weird and strange and wonderful and hardly showered, all make love… they lived in an old ruined building that resembled a crack den…. still I ran. With the fear behind me I’d stay forever and miss out on something on that “feeling” I’ve been searching for… the feeling I have no fucking clue what it is or if it even exists. Maybe I just need to embrace that and run straight back into their happy family of weirdness. To the Dirty people who want peace. It sounds right to me! There are too many clean people who want nothing but war.

Still  I feel alone. This loneliness won’t seem to leave. I can never seem to escape it.  Maybe it’s my empathic nature and I’m simply absorbing the loneliness around me is this giant world of truly lonely people. As I look at the man across the room from me and my heart breaks for him. I can feel his feelings, his sadness like I’m drinking them down as I would a glass of water. Consuming every ounce of me. How do I help him? How do I help myself? Literally fighting my own tears back as I try to look into his life. The crows feet around his eye intrigue me. I want to know where he’s been, how old is he, what his stories are that made him laugh that made him cry. The stories behind what brought him here today. Sitting alone drinking a beer.  

Soaking up his energy is hard for me but also inviting and full of pure sadness. 

Andrea

My friends, this woman is one of the most magnificent specimens of selflessness and kindness on this planet. She is genuine and pure and unique. She’s my best friend. One I haven’t seen in years but, I don’t need to in order to know she’s still there. She and I are connected by something real and rare. We are bonded in a way that, unfortunately, i don’t think many will ever feel. She says soul sister. That’s very true.  I don’t know what a soul is made of. I don’t know who gave mine to me. But everything in me knows that hers and mine are very much the same and it kills me when she says things like, “This loneliness won’t leave me alone.” That is beautiful. It’s that kind of absurd irony that makes life so strange and beautiful.

We’ve lived very different lives but have come to the same conclusions on most things. Mostly we believe that there is an overwhelming need for kindness, love, and acceptance on this planet and that we have to work to do something to combat the people in this world who preach the opposite.

Let me tell you about my friend.

She and I grew up in the same area. It was a rural one and most people don’t leave there. We certainly did (although I’m back there for reasons). It’s a lovely place,  as all places are. It is typically the people that screw places up.

During our younger years she and I weren’t that close at all. We were friends but we had different best friends and we were often among different groups of people. When we were both still in high school it seems we simultaneously hit a wall. We each found our own vices to cope with the onset of awfulness that was our emergence into this modern society. I don’t know if she could pinpoint the feelings that drove her to destruction back then. I never asked. Maybe I should have. Mine were fairly clear but took a decade to dig out from.

“I’m not what I’m supposed to be.”

That phrase would ring through my mind over and over again. I spent time trying to conform within my own code of conduct but, none of it ever felt right. I went to college thinking I’d found a path I could live on. That didn’t really work out. She came to see me a few times as she attempted to escape the asylum the world wanted to put her in. That’s not my story to tell but, guys, it’s a good one.

Anyway, when the dust settled after the disastrous teenage years were behind us, we found we were closer than ever. She may have been a teenager still, come to think of it. I don’t really know. I know she’s younger than me but I can never remember by how much. Some reading this may think, “How can you not know how old she is if you call her your best friend?” Well, it never seemed to matter. In high school she was more mature than I was. By A LOT. She taught me the drama and standards of female friendships were COMPLETELY unnecessary. That changed me. Her free spirit punched my free spirit right in the gut with that. I remember thinking, “I don’t have to participate in this nonsense?” I was under the impression that I was bound to that code or I’d be left alone. I thank whoever created our consciousness that she showed me I was wrong. 

I guess you could say, as we figured out more of who we really were, our spirits came closer to alignment within our individual selves and then became closer to alignment with each other as they are so similar. 

I always felt her spirit was a good bit stronger than mine. I had a tendency to draw myself inward and she forced herself out into the fray. She has well developed social skills because of this whereas I hide in my head and behind the keys of a computer in an effort to riddle it all out. 

I had a family and a marriage and I moved away from her and everyone I knew just trying to do what was right and grow into what I thought I should be and what I felt I was being directed to become. She was in a serious relationship with a dude, had a real job, a house, and some dogs. We seemed to be finally fitting in.  

But, it still didn’t feel right.

She called me one day. She told me she wasn’t happy in that spot. The world was so small there. Everything is the same over and over again. The people and the places and the experiences are quite limited when you live in the Midwest. So, I told her to stop worrying about obligations to others if she knew she’d be miserable in those boundaries. I told her to live for herself.

I’m sure she had already decided what she needed to do. That conversation couldn’t have held much weight. She does what she’s compelled to do and it’s magnificent because she’s one of the rare ones who can be trusted to do well with that kind of power.

She moved to the desert of Arizona. I was in the deep south. We spoke on the phone maybe twice a year, but, in those conversations from thousands of miles away, I felt more of a connection to her than I’d felt with any other and in a way that made up for all of what I felt was meaningless in my day to day interactions. Speaking with her refreshed me and made me feel like there was hope for true happiness.

From Arizona her world has only gotten bigger as she’s joined with philanthropic teams to assist those in need. Her world, it just keeps getting bigger.

I can see why she’s lost. We don’t have what is required to travel the paved roads on the maps that seem so popular. Their way doesn’t fill us up. Also, doing what does come naturally and what feels right doesn’t garner us any praise. We are often scorned for our actions in ways that don’t make sense to us. We are asked why we would be kind to certain people. Why would you give so much for someone you don’t know? Why would you do this and that and the other thing? It’s like we are weird and abnormal and strange and, maybe we are. 

There’s a lack of appreciation in a life like that. A lack of acceptance, a longing for camaraderie and, let’s face it, we were taught to need those things. Shaking that bad habit is hard as hell. When you’re an empathetic soul it hurts to watch people hurt each other. When you see an end to all of the useless pain and you’re told it will never work because of old ideas and standards you start to think others refuse to see the future and it’s frustrating and unfortunately, the laws are made in their favor so, you are forced to bend to their will in a lot of ways. It’s a bummer.

Maybe we evolved too early. Maybe it’s harder for us to find the like minded in a crowd because we are a sparse group of folks. Or maybe we were born too late. That hippie culture lingered but it feels like it’s gone. 

Regardless, the answers you’re searching for, my dearest friend, they aren’t out there. They never were. Whatever made us all gave the plan to us when he/she/it made our souls. They were attached to us before we were born so they couldn’t be taken from us. So everyone had a fair shot at happiness and fulfillment. Who you’re supposed to be and where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to do are things you already know and you, precious Starchild, you’re lucky enough to be one of the brilliant ones who doesn’t need to be directed. You’re soul is smart enough and loud enough to drive you there. If you get it wrong something will turn you around. If it doesn’t feel right, walk away. Or run. You’ve been so far and you’ve done so much good.  Your intentions are PURE and your motives are clear.  You’re exactly who and what and where you’re supposed to be. 

If you don’t feel appreciated it is only because most people don’t know how to appreciate you. You’re like one of those stipple paintings that looks like dots up close to people who don’t know well enough to take a step back. You’re just too big for their small views. And that’s ok. Because there are a few exceptional people out there who can see you for all of the glorious good that you are. Don’t be lonely. We feel you there. Alllllll the way over there.

One person’s appreciation doesn’t feel like enough sometimes. Especially when you give so much of yourself without asking for much in return.  Administering polio vaccines and helping to build water filtration systems.  Jeez, man.  You should never have to doubt your beauty and worth.  You should never have to search for validation. But you will have to.  

Some days you won’t feel any love at all. Then you have to look for it and, on the way, you’ll find something that’s going to change you. The next step. It always starts in a moment of discomfort or pain. You’re about to grow wings, you beautiful creature.  Soon enough, you won’t have to look for anything at all. You’ll have found it all inside of you. And you’ll find that there is so much in there that you need not fear sharing it with any and everyone you come across because, if there is one thing I know, people like you never run out of love.  

Love is what fuels you. Love fuels us all and a lot of people replaced it with something else. I’m afraid many have forgotten what it really feels and looks like in it’s many magnificent forms but, you have it in abundance and it’s not going anywhere. 

I imagine you’ve seen things that make your efforts seem small, as exhausting as they have been. They aren’t small. And neither are you. When you reach out your hand or extend your love with that brilliant smile, you plug into another soul. And they bring it to another and on and on and on and, before you know it, your smile improved the whole of humanity. How can anyone feel alone when they start seeing that? It may sound trite but, you’ll see it, if you’re looking for it.  

You’re strong. Smart. Capable. Diligent in an effort to make humanity more positive and pleasant. You’re important. Just because you aren’t “following the rules” doesn’t mean you’re off course. I’m sure there are kids in India who’d be dead had they not met you.  YOU are everything you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to do, exactly where you’re supposed to be. 

I love you.

P.S.

I miss your face

Love…  by Andrea 

This post was written by Andrea and I am honored to publish it here for her.

Love you, you wonderful wanderer.

   These feelings are always so strange and foreign to me, even though they are feelings that have constantly passed, like waves, through my mind. I can never figure out why they are always so hard for me to digest properly and why they return, over and over, no matter how many times I try to analyze them.  Like a lump in my throat I can’t seem to swallow. What is it about the constant pressure from society to settle down and procreate I can’t agree to, yet secretly a part of me longs for it?

   Maybe I have been designed to live a life most people don’t understand. A life that I don’t understand and that I can’t seem to figure out. A life of solitude with a  longing for things that simply no longer exist in the pure state I am looking for.

   So many days I wonder how it is possible that I can be surrounded by so many people yet feel completely alone. Searching the crowds of people for someone to hold me. To provide me with that sense of reassurance in life we are all looking for. Yet, I constantly struggle with the thought of being viewed as property.

   How can one be alone in a world filled with so many people?

  Is it me who simply chooses this and has driven myself to become accustomed to this life style? To driving those away who might actually be worth letting in? To not being able to accept the fact that, over time, love fades and what you are left with is a comfortable nothingness? And this is what love actually is – OR- is this where I belong in life? Is this how my path was written from the beginning? To travel this world alone searching for feelings  that aren’t real anymore? Seeking the true connection to another soul, never to find the one that was created solely for me?

   At times I am overwhelmed by the affection from suitors coming at me from all directions. Yet, I can’t seem to find that person whom I feel I share that desired connection with. Or the person whose affection I actually want to embrace and return as one “should”.

   Maybe this is because love doesn’t exist.  It’s a fantasy that from an early age we are taught to yearn for. Or perhaps it does exist and I’m just blind to it -OR- quite possibly I’m just a fool and can’t see it when it’s right I front of me. I’m so busy searching for a feeling yet I have no idea what the feeling actually feels like. Searching for this “idea” of love I have in my head. This “feeling”.

   How does one feel an idea, anyways? Is it even possible?  And then we come to the part of always wanting the ones that don’t admire us in return.  The ones that have no need for our affection.

   As I sit here, in the silence of an apartment that belongs to a man I flew 1/2 way around the world to to see, that I’ve spent the past 6 days with, yet we’ve barely managed to speak 6 full sentences to each other, I wonder, why is it I still merely desire his affection?

   The affection of a man who didn’t even have the courage to say goodbye to me when he left this morning, knowing that I’d be gone by the time he reached home, with no plans of returning anytime soon. A man who had no trouble expressing his desires with wandering hands in the dark of the night.  Yet, he is the one who’s affection I seek?

   I long to know how his day was spent. What he did. Who he may have met. Where he went. To sit and share a meal with him. To simply sit on the couch together letting the electricity of our connection bounce off one another’s skin. To hold his hand in silence or feel the protection of his arms wrapped around me in the middle of the night. To learn his desires, his passions, his dreams. To watch him sleep peacefully as my mind wonders imagining what he might be dreaming about.  To breath in the scent of his skin.  To keep the scent tucked away so I might be able to someday associate it to a distant memory in the far off future.  To do all that is necessary to foster a meaningful connection.  To know him and let him know me.

   The affection of a man who, to me, appears to be so lonely in life that I cannot understand  his unwillingness to return these desires or to acknowledge mine for him. To make the smallest amount of time for me when we only have a few short days together.

   Could it be possible his loneliness is contagious? Is this why, once again, I am struggling to digest these feelings that are flooding my mind? Filling my mind? Or maybe, as I stated earlier, maybe I am the lonely one. The one that is so lost in being alone that it is my feelings that are contagious. Trying to fit into the idea of a society that was not meant for me nor one that I fit into.

   There is never courage in running away, yet, time and time again, it seems like the best possible solution to me. Jump on a plane to a new destination.  Fill my life with new people and new culture. New experiences.  Maybe then these feelings will make sense? Maybe there my Prince Charming is waiting. Or maybe it is just another lonely place.

   Again, perhaps I am the one running from him. I do seem to be the one who is always running. The one unwilling to put in the extra work to make him see his importance to me. The one who is not capable of giving or receiving the proper affection and attention needed to sustain a relationship. Maybe, after being alone for so long, his wandering hands were the only way he knew to express his affection towards me and I didn’t give him a fair chance, rushing straight to judgement and rejection.

   On a side note, as I once again jet off to a new destination in search of something I am unsure exsists, the two beside me on the plane seem to be so madly in love with one another that I can’t help but have faith in a love like theirs, but for me.

   If love is to be seen in a spectrum, just as most emotions are, my empathy and experience have given me a broader view of the gravity and intensity love has to offer. I have seen heavy depths. The pressure in that dark sadness can truly turn coal into diamonds. I have seen humanity triumph from hopelessness, overcoming death and disease. Strangers raising forgotten souls from the dead. Children who were anonymous and unknown being given a chance at life from a person who grew up on the other side of the world using love to guide them to their good and philanthropic tasks. I’ve seen a variety and a vastness that many can’t comprehend and it has given me the burden of desire for a deep and heavy love. 

   Why would I lay that load on someone who couldn’t hoist it? My search will be harder but, in the end, I hope it finds me in a love more worthwhile. Real. Pure. Grand. Having nothing to do with proximity and common interests and everything to do with a spiritual connection and the true admiration of souls that see each other through the flesh and bone of bodies. A love that lives. One that’s eternal. One that exists now because it always has, outside of the temporary anatomy I was born into, in the realm of the everlasting subconscious that has endured over millenia and shall exsist in many forms until the end. A love that is both effortless and exhausting. Both immensely thick and heavy but, also weightless. One that stays outside societal parameters so it can carry it’s meaning through all of space and time as all unending things do.

   Something like that is the love I seek.

   Indulging in what my body craves does not satisfy my soul it merely quells the hunger pangs. It tides me over as I wait for the thing that will truly satisfy what this vessel’s soul is in search of.

   I have a thirst for a love with a lack of worldly conditions but a need for godly ideals.  It is filling and smooth and immediately recognized.  I want Mana from heaven not mcdonalds.  

   I have the patience. I have the determination. I have the knowledge of what I truly need.  But, the question that always lingers is, do I have the time in this body, in this place?  Do I have the time?  I have the courage but I must continue to pray for the sight so it doesn’t pass me by.

The traveler. 

   This post has been a collaborative effort between my dear friend Andrea and I. Andrea, being the brave and selfless soul that she is, is currently traveling the world on a charitable mission. She and I have long known that we share a very similar set of ideals and perspectives so, when she approached me today with the idea of working on a piece together that could express what her soul has been screaming to say, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  We wrote this today to convey a sense of sorrow we share for the path that many we have met seem to be on in the hope of awakening a dormant energy in the good people of this world that may act as a catalyst to the creation of positive change.

   As a traveler, exploring new countries, cities, and places is truly inspiring. Adversely, it has also saddened me deep into my core. As I sit here sipping my coffee, I look around and have realized that there are too many people on this planet that have never truly lived. 

   One day they are going to wake and realize they haven’t enjoyed life but, by then, it will be too late. They were too busy trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. They have spent a life time acquiring material goods to fill their homes instead of acquiring substance and experiences to fill their souls. It is my fear that they will leave this world with an emptiness as they have failed to do and see the things that actually make life worth living. To develop and fortify their eternal selves. To leave a spring of energy behind that future generations can draw from.

   I understand the logistics and necessity of money but it’s the constant consuming that society breeds into us from birth that I can’t seem to wrap my brain around.  Why do we not focus on teaching our children the more substantial, fulfilling, and worthwhile values of life? Such as meeting new people in strange places, however alien or odd they may seem, which enriches our love of human kind and adds to a sense of sameness that allows us to feel empathy, a deeper connection, and an ability to relate so that we need never feel alone. To be kind to one another including those we don’t understand or stand to gain anything from. To become acquainted with people unlike ourselves so that we can learn something from them and they can gain knowledge by knowing us. To not judge critically but rather embrace our differences and to search out commonalities we can use to unite. 

   Maybe it is me who is running away from society. Maybe I am searching for something that does not exsist. It’s a feeling I’m longing for that I’m unable to find.

   But, as I sit here, I can’t seem to get far enough away from where I am. 

   Every adventurer travels with a multitude of items that vary due to the individual needs of each mission or destination. However, there is one thing they carry with them as they travel to every location.  No matter where I go, there I am. And, so is the feeling that the people I have met could benefit from walking a slightly different path. This feeling and place I seek may not exsist yet but, they very well could.

  It’s not that I feel my way is best or perfectly suited for every soul on this Earth but, with a greater commitment to performing kind and altruistic acts, a deepened empathy and connection to all of humankind, an amplified desire to teach and elevate every population, and with a renewed focus on the aspects of life that are soul enriching and knowledge expanding as opposed to the superficial and meaningless things people seem to lustfully desire, we may be able to create that peaceful place in every valley, village, and bustling metropolis the world over.

  Perhaps the sense of fulfillment I have sought for so long as I have walked alongside so many empty spirits as they scratch for sustenance on the walls of malls and market places will finally overtake me as I successfully help to realign the human hearts I touch with a real sense of purpose.  Maybe my philanthropic deeds and toiling to teach a man to seek a sense of duty or a position in which he can lift another man up instead of exhausting himself in an effort to obtain a title, a place of power, or a societal status that only holds value in his office building while making him stacks of paper money that could easily blow away or burn, will bring me that sense of ease. 

   I wish to teach people to value the things that don’t fade in and out of style.  I want to show everyone the roads that I have found to happiness on a map that any and all can read and travel, despite their income bracket, race, or gender. Despite any affiliation of any kind.  I wish to pass on the knowledge I have gained through great difficulty, freely and to all who seek a well of limitless joy that is built with the bricks we create by being of service to others and is filled with the satisfaction of knowing that we have contributed to the positive forces, giving as much as we have taken.  

   I know that not everyone can see or experience what I have seen. I’ve witnessed a broad scope of the human condition and life on many levels.  I have seen the very poor, unable to feed themselves or seek necessary medical care. Children, homeless on the filthy streets of dangerous cities. Their stomachs aching with hunger and their hearts aching with the discomfort of abandonment and the weariness that comes with never having had the opportunity to feel at rest or at ease. They are in tears because of the pain with no one to console them. Alone. Without hope. Vulnerable, uneducated, unprotected, and cast aside to be abused and left to die.  

  I grew to maturity in the American middle class where I was freely given an education. I was afforded the food and shelter that these children consider to be luxuries. I was told I had the right to safety and health. Ignoring the ridiculousness in desiring statuses and stuff is impossible for me now. 

   No matter the country, race, or creed, people are people. Children are children. A smile is a smile and laughter and tears, worry and regret, hunger and cold, love and anger are endowed upon us all to let us know that, despite our differences, we are made of the same material. 

  We cringe as we watch others suffer because we are born with a sense of responsibility to be of assistance to one another. The borders of countries created imagined walls.  With those walls came the division of race, religion, and allegiance to governments that have seperated us for thousands of years.

Men created those things. 

Men make mistakes.

   I’m not seeking a Utopia, for that seems an unattainable dream.  I only dream of kind hearts and helping hands and minds that seek out similarities instead of the divisive differences. I’m in search of a more unified society that is comprised of a brilliant pallette of colorful faces and is driven by compassion, acceptance, and open mindedness. It is fueled with the warm and inexhaustible energy of love instead of this one that seems to be hell bent on stoking the furnace fires with hate while we fill our empty spaces with gold or plastic, closing our eyes and ears as people beg for help and shutting ourselves off only to wonder why we feel so alone. 

  If you would only try the way I found, grow accustomed to living with a little less, become used to desiring little but offering much, I am certain you would find that seeking fulfillment by helping and bringing joy to others is an everlasting source of contentment, and, the opportunities for entertainment and intellectual growth are never-ending if one becomes willing to look beyond what they already know.

   My benevolent spirit was cultivated from the same materials that every one of us is made from and the world seems to be in need of an adjustment. If even a small portion of this planet’s population of over 7 billion beings would make even a small shift in a more selfless direction, millions of lives would be improved and millions of minds would be grown. All of those good things that we millions of changed souls do would become the seeds, planted in the newly fertile soils we have enriched and made suitable for growth with our new philanthropic mindsets, that will grow into the crops that feed the next generation of kind and hungry souls.

More 

A lot of people can see the moon.
Most see it as a light in the night sky.

Some go to the extent of seeing it as it is.  A planetary object circling the Earth. Dusty and gray.

Not many go as far as to see themselves upon it. 

Not many try to experience it as if they were there, in the fine particulate, smooth between their toes. 

Not many see themselves there, imagining the exact sort of smile that would spread across their face when they realized where they were. 

Wondering wildly. 

Kneeling down in that soft sand and inspecting it’s color and texture. Looking over their shoulder through the black sky to the moon sized Earth in their peripheral then out to the stars so clearly seen in the absence of an atmosphere.

When you are a person who has a mind meant for more, this universe is more to you than the majority and the majority of those you meet will inevitably call you crazy.

I was lost in it for awhile.

I felt more.

I tasted more.

I smelled more.

I experienced more in everything than most could even imagine.

Personalization + overactive imagination = PAIN

It was lonely, it still can be.  

There was no one to teach me how to travel here because they couldn’t possibly show me a way they could never understand.

Their way wouldn’t work for me and they couldn’t see or feel as I did. They couldn’t pave my road. 

So, I learned to fly over them.

The world as most know it wasn’t designed for my comfort. 

Majority rules. 

I turned inward, then outward, then every which way. 

I’m comfortable now.  Like an alien adjusting to a foreign atmosphere. Like a fish out of water that somehow survived.

I learned to live in my own skin and mind and morals. 

I learned my limitations and strengths.

I’m lucky I got to learn it all.  Many like me don’t make it here.

Judgement. Persecution. Ridicule. Because “they” don’t understand.

They can’t. 

That’s ok. 

It all hurt. All of it. Good and bad because it was too much for awhile. 

Imagine living in this world and seeing the bad and actually putting yourself there and inside of them.  Becoming the mother of a starving family or a child living in war.

There was pain every minute.

There were bombs shaking me in the night.

To harness the gifts I was given was a struggle.

To learn how to feel and sense and survive with this mentality was pain in the purest form.

I grew into it.

I outgrew a lot of it.

I’m growing into more.

I’m going to keep going. On my own terms. In my own time. By my own volition.

The will and wishes of others seemed too small for me. Their world is too small too.

But, here’s the beautiful thing, I don’t need it, or them. Not anymore.

Mine is brighter, bigger, fuller, and, I’m comfortable here.

Finally.

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
 

 

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.”