Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day 11 "Greetings Mortal, Are you ready to die?"

Memento Mori - "Remember that you will die"

Today's challenge was to write about death. Which is an interesting subject for me. Because I've never been afraid of it. I don't mean to say that with any type of bravado, but I've never really worried about it. In fact, I've always kind of.... just been waiting for it. I'm not even talking about a depressed "I want to die" way of thinking, but literally I've always thought dying was a nice idea. Or, as my brother coined for me; a "welcome companion".

I supposed that my lack of fear comes from my strength of faith in the idea of the life after this. I believe firmly in the life after this being much better; that all the things I would have missed in this life due to death (whenever it may be) will be restored to me. So I've always felt that this life really wasn't as important as people make it to be. Wait. That doesn't sound right. Let me rephrase. The people who are afraid of death, hold importance on the things that don't matter in this life. They fear the loss of things they think matter. Not what truly does.

You may be thinking the reason that you don't want to leave this life is because of the relationships you have with your family and loved ones...

Whether you believe in a hereafter or not, neither should instill fear in you.

If you believe in a life after this, then you know that you'll be happy and have those relationships. Or, if you don't believe in an afterlife, it shouldn't strike a chord with you either. As Mark Twain put it:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

So, if you're dead, and there is nothing after this, then you won't feel anything.

Luckily I do believe in a place better than this. Free of pain. Free of stress. Free of darkness.

So I'm not looking forward for my ticket to get out of here, but when the day comes I won't be kicking and screaming to stay. I'll at least make it beneficial to others by taking out a decent life insurance policy.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Days 9 and 10

Well everyone, I had finished day 9 last night but somewhere while posting it my browser crashed and I lost it. So. Yeah, lame. So i'm going to write 9, again, today. Considering that nine is a much nicer topic today than it was yesterday.

Day nine was to write about my day. Simple.
Today, just about half of the burdening stress I've had has been lifted. I called the VA people at the hospital to get a check up on my paperwork and was told that they didn't have it yet, (2 weeks out) but that they did have the findings from the board in Washington D.C. and Rhode Island.

Reason why this is important? Well one, yes, they gave me a disability percentage. Not important how much, but what IS important is that it is enough that my wife and 2 boys will continue to have medical coverage. But the other important part is that now that the process is at this stage, I can seriously make plans to start transitioning. So I applied for jobs today. Which, was kind of weird to do, but comforting at the same time.

Once this paperwork comes in I can request to move my family back up north, and start settling back in the northwest.

So today? Today, was a good day. This morning I was really feeling weighed down, and then when I called nearly all of it just floated away.

This.... This I'm okay with.

Day ten is to discuss your own monomyth, or "Hero's Journey" and where you stand in it.

WHAT..... I haven't had to do something like that since 11th grade Mythology. However, that class is the only reason I even know what the Monomyth is. To be honest, all of you know what one is. It's in tons of movies. A lot of them are referred to as a "Pocahontas Story" now.

Pocahontas is just one example. John Smith comes to the Indians, John Smith gets the trust of the Indians, John Smith is discovered he used to be with the enemy of the Indians, Indians hate John smith, Enemy goes to attack Indians, John Smith tries to warn them, but they don't listen cause they hate his freakin' guts. John ends up saving them, bad guy dies and everyone loves John Smith. MURICA.

Story also replicated almost completely by James Cameron's Avatar.

But basically this picture gives the run down of what a monomyth is, and no not all of them are and udderly frustrating as John Smith. A monomyth is just a standard cast of what a typical hero's story is.

Hercules, Perseus, every other Greek hero... yeah they all run the same kind of circle.

I can't really say that I am. This would take quite a bit to analyze big events to my life to the different sections. But to be honest, and not sound all dramatic, I think i'm in the Abyss stage. Death... maybe not so much but I do feel like right now, is the darkest time of my life to date. But it hasn't been dark to the point of no hope. It's been the kind of dark where you just have a feeling something better is on the other side. I've learned so much about myself and tried to improve on my failures. I'm trying my best to be a better person. I usually compare the challenges in my life by evaluating how much power on my side it takes to get through it. I don't really know how to explain it, but if you had a bucket filled with water and someone came along with a small cup and asked for some, your bucket is more than enough to fill the cup and keep on moving. That how I visualize my challenges.

I feel most of my life has been challenged by things that may have taken parts here and there, and at the time, might have felt like a lot to deal with. But when in hindsight, they might be very small. This situation right now feels like I'm at the bottom of my bucket. Although the news today felt like someone coming along and pouring water into mine, I still feel like these struggles are the ones that are testing my limits.

But who knows. 1, 5 or 10+ years from now, when hindsight is crystal clear, I might look at this segment of my life and think, "It really wasn't as bad as I thought."

But it doesn't make the challenge any less beneficial in my growth as a person, man, father, and husband. All of which I struggle greatly with.

I'm no Ulysses, Perseus, Hercules, Hector, Achilles, Agamemnon, etc... but the good news is that all of their "hero" stories, monomyths, are exactly that: Myths. They are exaggerated stories based off of the lives of men that may or may not have ever existed. But mine, although seemingly insignificant to the world, is mine. And it's real.

"Thundercats! HHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Navy Career. Day 8

Today's challenge is to talk about my career and it's timeline.

This is kind of a frustrating subject for me.

I always wanted to join the military. So I did, after getting married that is. When I joined I wanted one position and an uncle of mine went out of his way to do what he could to help me get it. When the opportunity came to take advantage of that connection the overwhelming intimidation of the first few days of boot camp caused me to be caught in confusion and miss the opportunity. I immediately felt bad that people who tried to help, had been let down by me. So in the end I was stuck with the job I had been given.

Off to Pensacola I went, which at the time, I didn't know would be a 2 year adventure. But it was however and I in fact spent a full 2 years training to do my job.

Then off to the fleet I went and for almost a year I actually got to work in the field I was trained... Only for it to be abruptly interrupted during my first deployment. I went home, and while I was home it was discovered that I have some medical issues that have effectively put an end to my military career. So since August of last year, I have been working as a Navy Paralegal here in San Diego, waiting for separation.

So how do I feel about my career? Honestly, I feel like I've spent 4 years in the service and don't really have anything to show for it. I guess it's my fault, but I dunno.

It frustrates me that there are people on my old ship that seem discontent with me... like my situation leaving the ship was an easy out. I guess "frustration" isn't really what I feel. It makes me sad, because at the time I didn't want to go home. My LT asked me on a regular basis if I needed to go home and I just as regularly said "No". Whatever.

So now, as I've mentioned before; I'm facing the indefinite but inevitable window of knowing I have to leave this job and start over. Start a new career, and/or school. With a wife and two kids it's overwhelming to try and jump off this hypothetical cliff into finding a job, a house, a way to provide for them when all I've known in that regard is the Navy life.

I'm not going to be negative and ho-hum about what could have been done differently, or what I'm disappointed about. Truth is, it all has happened as it has, and beating myself up about it won't change anything.

I'm just trying my best to keep my feet under me and land solid after I DO have to jump. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One week down. Day 7

So I've made it a week of writing. I think it's a milestone, not just because the challenge says it is but because it really took some focus to do it. I'm enjoying it more and it's really helping me with the noise in my head, which of course, is the reason I started writing any of this crap.

Day 7 says to reflect on how I feel about writing for seven days. Well....

A guy like me needs all the vents for stress that I can get. It's working so I'm gonna stick to it.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Manly Words Day 6

So, if you're wondering why I missed day 5...

I didn't.

I mean... I didn't write on here, but that's because I don't need to share day 5 with you. Day 5 was a challenge to write a letter to one you love. 


That, and I'm not even done writing it yet.

But Day 6 is a good one to share. Day six is to share a a quote from a man I admire, then share how it affects me and write about how I try and model my life around it, and if it reflects the kind of man I'm trying to be.

Well shoot. I definitely con't think of one. But I can't think of several. I hate the internet's love for Chuck Norris. Van Damme kind of has that following now too.... I mean, doing splits between semis is a pretty big deal. But when it comes to celebrities, there is only one guy I think that fits the "manly" bill. This guy is 84 and still living with grit in his teeth. A man who can stare down the coward in you through grizzly squinted eyes. A gravely voice that demands respect and makes you feel like you're a girl scout. His favorite quote of my is this:

"I've never met a genius. A genius to me is someone who does well at something he hates. Anybody can do well at something he loves - it's just a question of finding the subject."

Clint Eastwood put it in a way that I couldn't. I say: "Do what you love, because you love what you do."

This is something I want to fashion my life after. I want for the rest of my life, that what I'm doing, and where I'm doing it is because I WANT to. Not because I need to. I want to love what I do, so I'm going to shoot for that. There's going to be plenty of obstacles in the way and I'm ready for them. I'm dealing with them, but I know I'll get there.

My second quote comes from someone I've never seen on TV or movies, but I've read a good deal about. I wish I could bring him back to life. But we can remember him by participating in what he loved: Supporting your local boy scouts and encourage your son(s) to be one, visit and donate to your local State and Nation Parks and enjoy them. Love the wilderness and immerse yourself in it. It's been nearly a hundred years since this man died but his service to our country and his stature as a man is evident in what he said here:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Teddy Roosevelt was a man I'll always admire. His quote about the "Man in the Arena" speaks an echo of something my dad has always taught me: the importance of self-accountability. In every instance of my life I try to remember this and even though I'm terrible about it, I try and remember that no matter what happens, I'm the only one that knows what it was like, what the cost was, where I struggled.

Everyone else can only offer sympathy. In truth, one who may have experienced the similar situation may offer their form of empathy, but no empathy is perfect comfort for a man in strife. In times of failure or victory only YOU know the effort you made.  It doesn't matter if others judge that you didn't try, or that you didn't put forth your best effort because only you know the strength it took. 

It matters not the opinions of others because opinions don't build you, they only attack you spirits if you let them.

The next is from one of my favorite authors. Who lived his whole career going by a name that he received from the boats he road in the older years of America, even to the point where most don't even know his birth-given name, Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He gave us the great stories that we learn in school and love to read there after. Huck and Tom makes us laugh and grip our seats page after page with their adventures. As lively as his characters were, his quote fits nicely in theme of each of them:

"The fear of death follows from a fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

Mark Twain lived that way and I hope to as well. A quote like that is very much the reason why two wheeled gear heads ride everyday. I should just start using this as when people ask why I ride when it's so dangerous.... That's part of the love of riding. What fun is a life with no risk?

I don't have a super exciting life lately but I'm changing that, working around having 2 little boys at home. But I'm still not afraid of dying. I don't remember ever being afraid of it.

Have you ever thought about if you're afraid to die? If you are, why are you? It's interesting to think about when you do.

I wish I could meet these guys. But their lives and stories are enough to inspire. Sure, they may not be completely the men I'd like to emulate because I don't drink or smoke. I also don't curse (even though I slip here and there. I try)

But the work ethic, courage, honor, fidelity. Those things are the things I want to emulate and these guys were chock full of it.

I guess more than anything I'd like to live a life where 100 years from now, maybe someone would use something I said and want to be better because of it. Hopeful wishing I guess but I'd like to think that my short time in this life will be of benefit to others.

"And that's all I have to say about that"
-Forest Gump


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Removing Negatives Day 4

Today's challenge was to remove something negative thing, a habit, from your life.


I've already started on this before my writing that I'm trying to find a trigger for my migraines. But I'm really trying a solid approach to this.

Today is day 4 that I've removed all bread and sugar from my diet, and truth be told; I feel great.

Reason I'm doing it is because countless articles, blogs, and forums online have traced many significant medical ailments to primarily gluten, and sugar. A lot of these people are saying their migraines have disappeared from doing so.

My migraines haven't stopped yet, and maybe they never will but I know family and friends have lost a lot of weight and felt better over a bunch of little things by doing it so this is one of my steps to remove something negative from my life. I just figure it can't hurt. Right?

Who needs junk food anyway. I'm glad it's gone.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Focusing on the Positive: Day 3

Today's writing challenge is to write about a positive habit that I would like to implement in my life.

Uh. Great. It's not that I can't think of one.

It's which one do I choose to write about?

Today's challenge is to write about implementing a good habit, and tomorrow is about a bad one you want to lose.

I could write a Britannica sized series on things I hate and want to change about myself. I'm a nut job when it comes to self-criticism. You think I'm opinionated when it comes to other people? You should hear my one sided conversations in my dome.

I've a strong tolerance for my palm on my forehead and clenching my teeth in the agony of awkward situations. 

Those awkward handshake-fistbump-highfive situations can ruin me for a week, simply because I tear myself apart over them.

But now, as I'm writing all this, I guess my good habit could be being a little easier on myself.

I guess that's alright.

                           I just need to accept me for me.....

....And then live in a cabin in the woods secluded from everyone.

                                                                                          I can dream right?