You can never go home…

Get it right in the camera

Milford Road, New Zealand

It is said that once you have traveled, especially anywhere in the great wide world that you can never really go home again.  Meaning that when you do go home, it never really looks the same to you again.  Part of your heart and soul is left in the places you’ve traveled to.  I not only believe this, but I know this to be true from personal experience.  I’ve been both blessed and cursed to have traveled the world.  It’s a wonderful experience and it truly does broaden one’s horizons.

The other side of it is that you never quite see yourself, or your home in quite the same way ever again.  Particularly if you are used to (or have taken for granted) the comforts, freedoms and advantages that we have here in America.  To see how people live, and are often forced to live, the conditions they live in third world or worse situations…. well, you come home with a new appreciation for what we have.

If you have ever served in a war zone, as I have, you have an even deeper understanding of the sacrifices that our military have made to keep us swaddled in the comforts of freedom.  Some of them have made the ultimate sacrifice.  First of all, let me make it abundantly clear that I am not one of those fine people.  I was a civilian contractor and worked alongside of them, but not in a combat role.  Having said that, I do know what it’s like to know that a part of me is still there.  I know what veterans feel like, who upon coming home, feel like they have to go back, that they are missing a part of themselves, and need to go back to find it, somehow.  I did just that myself.  I finally realized what it was that I left and that I wouldn’t get it back and that I was only going to leave yet another part of myself over there.  Eventually I chose to come home again, and I really hope not to go back, if I can help it.  That is a choice our military does not always get to exercise.

If you know a veteran, or have one as a family member, please try to understand how torn in two they can be, especially on this day, even years later.  Many Vietnam vets still experience this, especially on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, or on specific days related to events that occurred in country.  Respect their need for quiet, for space, and give them the support they need.  In many cases, a huge part of them has been left ‘over there’ and on certain days, that void is clearly felt.

Returning to the civilian world is very difficult once you’ve experienced what they have.  The suicide rate is ridiculously high among returning veterans.  It is estimated at about 22 per day.  This is unacceptable.  As civilians with no military experience, it’s probably unrealistic that we can understand what they are experiencing and consequently try to help them unless we are professionally trained to do so.  I know a lot of veterans are actively working at reaching out to other vets to do so.  Nevertheless, the VA system is failing them, and doing so spectacularly.  This is also unacceptable.

So it seems it is once again, as in post-Vietnam, up to us, their fellow Americans, to support them, not with empty slogans, but to actually do something.  So, don’t be afraid of them.  They are people just like you and me, who have lived through extraordinary events who are just trying to become regular people again.  So help them become regular people again by inviting them into our regular lives and doing regular things and allow them to decompress and give them the space to talk about things when or if they feel safe to do so, but by all means…do not ask.  Do not be shocked if you start hearing things that make you feel uncomfortable.  Just listen.  And continue to accept them as regular people.  That’s all they really want to be.



Show of hands, who has made it through their lives without making any mistakes?  Yeah, that’s about what I thought.

We humans are flawed creatures.  The best we can hope for is to minimize our mistakes, keep the damage to a minimum and hopefully be able to correct the damage, unless we are so narcissistic or sociopathic to believe that we are blameless and it’s always ‘someone else’s problem’.

I’m currently dealing with one of those situations which we euphemistically describe as our “chickens have come home to roost”.  After forty years, that’s a lot of chickens.  Those things breed like…chickens.  No, I won’t share the details, as that isn’t the point of this posting.   Suffice to say, if all goes well, it will be a good thing.  If it doesn’t, then nothing really changes, too much at least.  It’s been the single biggest regret in my life, and while I wish I could have made different choices at the time, I still stand by the choices I made then.  It really was an impossible choice, given the circumstances at the time.  My regrets are more along the lines of the effects it has had on the people involved.  That is what I hope to correct, forty years down the road.   I knew that this would surface at some point again, and it seems to have done so, at probably the most appropriate point it could have.  I guess only time will tell, and perhaps the lesson from all of this is…patience.  The long term type of patience.  The exact type I’ve never been very good at.  Ta-daaaahhh!

If life weren’t so dam comical I’d forget to laugh now and then.

Fortunately, I’ve had some excellent guidance through this episode though which I have been remarkably unobjective.  I will not mention his name because I didn’t ask permission of him and I don’t wish to embarrass him in any case.  But you know who you are and I’m not sure if I could have navigated this particular mine field without your assistance and guidance.  Thank you.

I have no idea where this thing will end up, but I have reason to believe, by the way things have unfolded of late, that it won’t be a total disaster.  At least not yet.  There is of course, still a chance that I will step on my…um, make a misstep but I hope not.  We’re all working without a map and without a net so it’s a little scary.  But I remain hopeful.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to write about it all later.

What’s my point?  Don’t be afraid of the past.  We’ve all done things we’re not proud of.  There’s always time to at least try to make things right again.  So try.  You never know what you can gain from it.  Oh yes, one more person to thank, and you know who you are.  Thank you for coming out of the past to reach out to me and make this all happen.  I hope we can make the best of this, and it’s nice to know that we’re on the same page.

Everything happens for a reason…

“Time passes in moments.  Moments, which rushing past, define the path of a life, just as surely as they lead towards its end.  How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen.  To consider whether the path we take in life is our own making, or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed?   But what if we could stop, pause to take stock of each precious moment before it passes?  Might we see the endless forks in the road that have shaped a life?  And seeing those choices…choose another path.” – Dana Scully… (All Things, X-Files, Season 7)

I’ll admit it, I’m an X-Files fan.  Not strictly because it’s kind of an entertaining monologue about aliens, and government conspiracies (honestly, the gov’t is too inept to be that clever, individual people on the other hand…) and monsters and paranormal stuff.

Once in a while though, the show got kind of introspective and philosophical.  This particular episode is near the end of the 7th season, and one of the main characters (Dana Scully, an FBI agent) is having a moment of frustration with her relentlessly curious partner.  One thing leads to another, and she finds herself confronted with an episode from her past that she’d long ago buried.  A rather painful episode, a mistake, if you will.  Or was it?  She begins a rather introspective look at the events that led up to that episode in her life, the consequences of it, and the choices she’s made since then, and where they have led her.  It culminates in a rather intense spiritual experience (all the more remarkable since she is a very ‘skeptical about such things’ scientist) that leads to a reconciliation, redemption, and letting go of pain that was, unbeknownst to her until that moment, weighing her down.

This particular episode has become a favorite of mine, the writing was quite good, and some great imagery and background music sort of just flowed with the story and made it all come together, at least in my fevered brain.

I think the writers must have been reading some of the teachings of Buddha, where he discusses the nature of Suffering, and how we must act and think to divest ourselves of it.  Or they were smoking some really good weed.

Seriously though, I can’t overemphasize the value in letting go of ‘things’, or our attachment to things.  Whether that thing is an actual thing, a concept, a person, a location, a job, paradigms, or a favorite pair of jeans that lets in more daylight than is legally allowed.

So many friends and acquaintances of mine are going through some really difficult challenges lately, it seems.  We all do from time to time.  A point brought out in the show, was that when an event comes to us, of major proportions, it may be a sign to slow down and think things through.  Why is this happening?  What is the lesson here for me, or even for all parties involved?

You see, I believe with all my heart and mind, as the title of this blog suggests, that everything happens for a reason.  We may not always see that reason, and maybe can’t see it until much later.  If ever.

We all, each of us, so easily get stuck in ruts of behavior from doing the same thing all the time and expecting different results.  Or perhaps we don’t perceive that what we are doing is repetitive and not moving us forward?

I spent many years living in a denial of my self, or shall I say, of my true nature.  Those of you who know me may think you know what I am referring to, but no, it goes beyond that too.  Living that particular lie about myself was merely the cover of the pressure cooker that was my life.  We all know what happens (or we imagine we do!) if we suddenly remove the lid from a pressure cooker.  Well, I did that, and although it was a relief, a lot of things boiled over as well.  A lot of things best let go of.  It happened eventually.  But when one is faced with having to rebuild and reinvent oneself, it’s a bit daunting.

Circumstances often either lead us…or force us, into changing something about ourselves.  Personally, I prefer the former over the latter.  Having a sublime Dana Scully moment is much preferable to having our pretenses stripped away by force.  It’s somewhat akin to those dreams we have where we are walking around naked.  But maybe that’s what those dreams are actually about?  You know the ones, where no one seems to notice that we are buck ass naked but us, but maybe it’s really because we’re afraid that people will see that which we are trying to hide in our waking lives?  I can tell you that once you embrace (or perhaps better said…to accept those things), and learn to not be ashamed of them, it’s very liberating.

Some of you who know me, may also remember a period of time where, shall we say, I was not at my best.  That pressure cooker analogy again.  The heat was building and the pressure was rising.  My inner conflicts became my outer jackass.  Yes, at one time I lived in a state of shame and embarrassment over these things.   My volatility was no fun to be around.  Ask me I know, because I also had to live with it.

Well, this wasn’t meant to be a confessional, or an apology even.  But for those of you I was a jackass to, I really do sincerely apologize.

You see, the process of letting go, of forgiveness, including yourself, is just that, a process.  One that is definitely worth undertaking.  I never said it was going to be easy either.

Which leads me really, to where I think I was going with all of this.  Gratitude.  A friend was telling me about this many years ago, and though I wasn’t really prepared then to accept what she was saying, I never forgot it.  Gratitude: a feeling of appreciation or thanks. (Merriam-Webster).

Whether you are a spiritual person, or not, being grateful, expressing gratitude, seems to leave a void in our lives which then seems to get filled with…for lack of a better word, good stuff.  Through no effort of my own, one day I found myself in this state of feeling…grateful, to no one in particular or to a beneficent Universe, for so many cool things in my life.  For a long time, I’d cut myself off from this, awareness shall we say?  Constantly struggling to do better, seemingly getting nowhere.   For whatever reason, things changed when I found myself in this state of mind.

The ‘good stuff’ just sort of keeps happening.  For which I am of course, even more grateful.  I encourage you to try this.  I personally feel that too many of us are incredibly spoiled individuals.  We complain about a myriad of things that have no real importance.   We live in a miraculous age!  We carry internet devices in our pockets, we fly through the air in modern machines with no more thought than putting on a jacket.  We have an abundance of basic needs filled FOR US by people we think of as invisible every day.  We should be grateful to them as well!

Thanks for reading.  I’m actually grateful if you do that.  Try to practice this in your life.  After all, what could it hurt?

The sleeping giant…

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”  Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto

The quote provided above is widely used, but as it turns out, it is most likely apocryphal as there is no proof, written or otherwise, that he actually said it.

Having said that, he is right.  Americans have historically put up with a lot before we push back.  But if you bring the fight to us, we’re going to give you the fight you’re looking for.  We love our freedoms, we love the idea of sharing that freedom with others, but not at the expense of our own.

Social media and the blogosphere are full of statements and ideas that at worst, we are no longer that nation, and at best, we are in danger of losing the freedoms that we still have.  Those of you who know me from social media know where I stand on these and other issues.  I am not going to talk about that here.

Today is the anniversary of 9/11…and to many others, the anniversary of Benghazi, which not coincidentally, happened on the same day in 2012.  A few things have happened recently which has prompted me to write on my blog again.  A landmark and history making recall election has been successfully undertaken in Colorado.  Two state senators, one of them the president of the Colorado senate, have been successfully recalled by voters in their respective districts.  I say history making, because it’s never happened before in Colorado.  That alone should tell you something.  The aforementioned senate president consistently turned a deaf ear to his constituents, as well as the residents of the state, which as president he also represents.  Or did.  Not only that, he encouraged his colleagues in the senate to ignore emails, phone calls and letters from their respective constituents.  He considered the people who wrote them “vile and disgusting”, and slanderously accused those who were working toward his recall of being “criminals, and sexual predators” with no basis in fact to do so.  His accusations of outside interests were also fascinating, given the fact that he was accepting money from none other than Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York to defend his office.  $350,000 to be specific.  Meanwhile he accused the NRA of supporting and initiating this recall drive.  Well, the NRA DID get involved, after it became obvious that outside money was coming in for his recall defense.  The NRA sent about $100,000, but this was mostly in the form of legal assistance and PR work.

The folks who started the recall drive were ordinary citizens, like you and me.  People who had gotten fed up and decided to do something about it.  Those people attracted like minded other people just like you and me and organized.  Despite a lot of dirty trickery by Morse and his minions, he was successfully recalled.  Angela Giron, from Pueblo, CO was also successfully recalled by an even larger margin for much of the same behavior exhibited by John Morse.

There was much talk by the opposition and sympathetic newspapers and other media that it was about gun laws passed by the Colorado legislature.  Yes, and no.  That was only one of several issues.  Primarily it was about the imperial attitudes of the aforementioned legislators, the changing of rules to suppress any opposition to their agenda from speaking out at the capitol building in Denver.  Gun legislation was passed that will have zero net effect on crime.  In fact, the Colorado Sherriff’s Association nearly unanimously issued a statement that they would not only NOT enforce these laws, but have filed a lawsuit to repeal them.  The only dissenting counties were Arapahoe and predictably, Denver county.  These onerous laws resulted in Magpul deciding to pull out of the state, taking millions in revenue and several hundred jobs with them.  Strong work there John.  Something tells me that isn’t in the best interest of the state.

In other events, outside of Colorado, a large coalition of bikers has decided to protest the Million Muslim March, by staging a run to Washington DC.  The MMM was granted a permit by the Park Service for this event.  The bikers were however, denied.  The MMM is a protest by muslims in America to be granted extra rights for all kinds of free stuff that they feel they are entitled to because…well, they’re special.  The bikers, taking exception to this, have decided that enough is enough.  Despite not having a permit, they’ve decided to go anyway, which only means they won’t get a police escort to run traffic lights, so about a million folks on Harley’s will be riding a route predetermined by their organizers and obeying traffic laws.  Can you imagine the sound of a million Harley Davidsons for blocks on end?  I call that the sound of freedom.

Additionally, the bikers have been invited to share in a rally by another group who does have a permit, so they will be able to gather near the capitol for that little soiree.  Lovely.

 The point of all this…America is finally showing some signs of ‘we’ve had enough’.  A million bikers descending on the District of Corruption is a pretty good start I’d say.  An historic ‘never-happened-before’ recall in Colorado is yet another.

Just because a particular party is in power doesn’t mean they can ignore the other opposing side of the citizenry.  A fact that the current pack of liars is finding out.

Peaceful revolt.  You’ve got to love it.  Yes, it’s a longer road.  Yes, it’s probably a lot more frustrating in the long run.  The system works, as long as you USE IT!  So much complacency has crept in within the United States.  The attitude of “they won’t listen anyway so what’s the point?”.  The “what can we do?” has to be replaced with electing different people.  One might argue that they thought they were doing that when Obama was elected.  Hope and change and all that.  I was never fooled by it.  Despite all his claims of ‘fundamentally changing’ our country (which make no mistake, he is trying very hard to do), he’s more of the same old tired socialist arguments.  It’s never worked before and it’s not going to work now.

We seem to go through these periods every few years, swinging from one side of the political spectrum to the other.  Anyone remember Jimmy Carter?  By remember, I mean, does anyone remember the malaise that swept the country when he was in office?  Double digit inflation?  Double digit unemployment?  Same thing now, except they’re fudging the numbers to make it look better.  It’s probably much worse in reality.

You hear rumblings on the social media about revolt…meaning armed revolt.  Honestly, I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that.  While there is no one left alive to remember the US Civil War, just read the history books, or at least the ones that haven’t been revised.  It was an incredibly destructive period in our history that probably derailed many years of progress in our country and divided a people against themselves.  I don’t recommend it.  There are plenty of other examples of how bad of an idea it is in our present time.

The Constitution gives We the People broad powers to restrict government, provided we USE them.  Government has managed to circumvent a lot of them to the point where people are beginning to get…well, really pissed off.  We must hold our government officials to the standard of law.  We have to start electing people who are equally committed to the idea of the rule of the Law of the Land.  It’s still a good idea folks, despite what the many detractors of the Constitution will try to tell you.

We made it work in Colorado.  The price of it, is that we have to get involved.  We have to step away from Facebook occasionally, or Honey Boo Boo, or whatever other mindless drivel you’re personally addicted to.  In any case, set your DVR to watch it later, but get up and do something, because it won’t change unless We the People make it happen.  It’s our country, and it’s our government.  Those clowns work for US!  If you owned a business and had people like that working for you, why would you keep them?  The business of running our country requires people committed to the rule of Law, not tired old flip flopping Senators who’d rather play poker on their iPhone than pay attention in a committee room while there is talk of starting war.

If your state doesn’t allow recall elections to happen, then you should be trying to change that.  The other side whined and complained about it costing so much (yet they didn’t volunteer to donate the outside funds they were receiving to offset that cost now…did they?) and about how disruptive it was.  Really?  As opposed to the millions of dollars of lost revenue your shenanigans are costing the state?  In any case, a recall has never happened in the history of Colorado.  Not once.  Until yesterday that is.

It’s stuff like this happening that keeps my faith in my country and in its people.  Together, we can do a lot more than one of us.


I should preface this rant by saying that I don’t, and never will hold myself above anyone else.  I’ve also made some pretty horrendous mistakes in my life.  It’s part of the human condition.  I’ve tried very hard to make amends when that has happened.

Perhaps my expectations of others are too high.  Perhaps I believe in the inherent goodness of others…a bit too much.  For the most part, that hasn’t disappointed me, but when it happens, it seems to happen in spades.

I’ve never actually thought I would use my blog for this purpose.  Part of me hopes it’s not just because I’m trying to avoid a confrontation, but frankly, in this case I don’t believe I am.  Mainly because such confrontations with you in previous incidents, haven’t gone well, because you, ‘dear friend’ have convinced yourself of the legitimacy of your action.

Apologies I admit, can be very difficult, and admitting when you’ve wronged someone else, even more so.  I think it says a great deal about someone’s character when they can do so.  I’m all about second chances, because without them, I seriously doubt I’d be where I am in life.

I’ve done my best to live a life of honor and showing loyalty to those I care about.  I haven’t always been so concerned about these things.  I had, some years back, a moment of clarity when I realized that I myself had been living a lie…well, for my entire life up to that point.  Living that lie, allowed me to be dishonest in small and large ways not only to myself, but also to others.  I found it easier to just conceal and obfuscate that which I didn’t want to face up to… because I was living this other great big lie.  One lie made it easier to continue to do so to others and even to myself.

Self-deceit is as poisonous, if not more so, than deceiving others.  One can manage to convince oneself of nearly anything, including your own self worth, or your value to others in the world, when you begin to fall for your own inner monologue of lies.

That moment of clarity is something I’ll always be grateful for.  I vowed from that point on, to never, if it is within my power (it usually is) to engage in self deceit, and the deceit of others.  Again, I make no claims to perfection, but I think I’m doing a dam sight better now than a few years ago.

The thing that has been eating at me now for quite a long little time now, is that someone I considered a friend, someone I extended unquestioned loyalty to, someone I trusted implicitly… has been discovered to be a big fat liar by me.  Oh yes, and a thief.  Not something big, but something that intrinsically has no real value.  What’s the problem with that you ask?  In and of itself, nothing.  It’s something of no value, not money, not gold…nothing.  But what that thing represents to me is something completely different.

So I have to ask, ‘dear friend’, does it make you feel better having it?  Does it justify your feeling of having deserved it, even though you didn’t receive it, and even though you deprived me of it?

Let me tell you a secret.  You haven’t deprived me of anything.  I know I deserved it.  The sentiment of the person who gave it to me was genuine.  I’ll take that one with me.  In fact, if having that item makes you feel better…then just keep it.  We both know what happened.

You are without honor, and your actions are not that of a friend.  You know who you are.  That is all.

And when you gaze long into an abyss…

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. –Friedrich Nietzsche

I was motivated to write this post because of something a friend of mine posted on the hell that Zuckerberg created.  That’s a subject for a post in itself, but I digress…

Said friend was ‘unfriended’ by a friend of his over political differences.  My friend made a comment that he was getting tired of his negativity anyway, but was trying to ‘understand’ his motivations.  While I generally support the idea, as it does tend to help us get along better, usually, it also led me to ponder the Nietzshe quote as above.

It seems to me, that the political process in our country has gotten out of control.  This isn’t meant to generate any “Ya think?” comments, rather I am leading up to something.  This isn’t meant to be a political rant, per se, rather an observation of the process and its effects.

Politics, in my recollection used to be more civil, at least the discussions between normal people.  Between politicians, it’s as nasty as it’s always been.  There were times, back in the day, that fist fights erupted on the floor of the House/Senate.  It hasn’t improved all that much, it’s just a lot more verbally nasty now.

Sadly, we as a people have gotten caught up in this as if we really have a personal stake in the outcome.  The reality is, not much will change.  Enter (anti)social media, and the concept of safety and anonymity behind a keyboard.  Keyboard warriors, or as I call it, “Facebook behavior” has allowed the self isolated disseminators of chaos (DOC’s) that are usually shunned by local communities to have a much wider audience.  To the dismay of us all.  Yet, I believe that no matter how much we try to ignore them (the Ignore/Block button IS your friend, not said DOC’s, even if he has “Friended”  you), their words and actions do have a cumulative effect.  They post something offensive, we try to reason with them, correct their behavior, it turns into a s***t storm, and everyone looks bad.  We’ve allowed the abyss to stare back into our very consciousness and express itself through us (I can’t come to bed honey, someone is WRONG on the internet!).  That one never gets old. 🙂

I certainly don’t put myself above this, as I’ve allowed myself to get caught up in it also.  To my great regret.  I do try, very very hard, to not engage.  I am not afraid of the Hide/Block button, and I use it liberally rather than get sucked into the maelstrom.  No good will come of it otherwise.

But to come to the point of this, I think it’s important to remember who we are, rather than which candidate we think is prettier.  I’ve worked hard at surrounding myself with good people, supportive friends and acquaintances.  I’ve had to cull some of my social networking lists when such behavior appears, but I do so without rancor.  I just don’t have time for it, and I don’t wish to hear the abyss screaming obscenities in my ear, telling me how wrong I am, what kind of smartphone I should own to avoid being an asshole…etc.  I prefer the still small quiet within.

I just want to do the things that make me happy, and live my life in the best way I can.  I share those things here, hoping that they will bring some measure of happiness to you as well.

Rise above, and stay in the light my friends