They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Jun 4, 2013

And then it all went black...

Was reading a book the other day. Its something that I do from time to time. I have been known to take in a little literature now and then.

The book wasn't your usual story telling. It wasn't a hero vs. the bad guys who had kidnapped his girl and he had to save her from the evil mountain fortress where they were holding her.

It was more of a "save yourself" kind of a book.

Self help, would be the way that most people would characterize it. Which is something that I've been reading more and more since the war ended for me. I like those stories. Some guy with no legs ran a marathon, some woman graduated from college at 87, some kid overcame the odds and played basketball or any shit like that.

But this one posed a question. A question that I've been pondering and mulling over...obsessing over would probably be the best way to put it.

The question was this, you're on a plane over the mountains, doesn't matter what mountains, doesn't matter what plane doesn't matter if you're alone or with someone, just you're on a plane and you're 35,000 feet in the air and the plane just goes into a tailspin and is headed straight for the rocks and all you can do is sit there for the roughly 20 seconds you've got left and think to yourself...what didn't I do?

Now at first that strikes me as the typical shit. Motivational nonsense that has no basis in real life. But then the more I started and continued to think about that the more it started to hurt, and the more it started to gnaw at me. What haven't I done?

Well there's the big one. Haven't had a kid yet. Propogating the species. Leaving a legacy. All that jazz. I definitely want to do that. If you were to talk to my fiance she'd tell you that I've been baby crazy lately. Always noticing the little ones around, and seeing how much fun its gotta be to have one of my own. Teaching him...or her what's going on. Showing them the entire world through their wide eyes. Its gotta be a fun thing to do.

Then there's other ones. Mostly selfish ones. Haven't been to Africa or Australia yet. Haven't been on a Cruise. Haven't jumped out of a plane for fun. Haven't gotten my Masters Degree yet, but I'm working on it. Never in my life have I ever actually been in great shape. I've been in good. You don't really have much choice on that one in the Army. I managed to finish 2 Bataan Death Marches (the memorial kind, not the real thing) but I've always wanted to do one of those Spartan Races or Warrior Dashes or something like that. I haven't quit smoking. I haven't written the book about Afghanistan that I know is in there. Hell its probably already here. I don't even give a damn if it gets published but I want to write it.

When you really start thinking about all that shit, you get really uncomfortable. Most of my life I live in relative comfort. Now given my life choices my idea of comfort is different from most. I spent 14 years in the Army and the majority of my non-military professional career in a prison so I don't need as much comfort as most people do. Nonetheless I live in a nice suburb, I drive a nice car, I earn a nice living, I've got a nice family, I've got a beautiful girl, and I don't really want for much. And therein lies the problem.

Inmates use a term called "thirsty" Meaning "want" Obviously if you're thirsty for something you want that thing. You can be thirsty for success, thirsty for love, thirsty for money, thirsty for power, thirsty thirsty thirsty.

But for the most part, I'm not. I'm mostly satiated. My life is pretty satisfying for the most part. And that's definitely the problem. I almost wish I had a need, something to really thirst for. Some deficiency in my condition that led me to focused action. But I don't. So I've got to create it for myself, and I'm not quite sure how in the hell to do that. But at least thinking about this question has shaken me out of that comfort that I've been feeling. Which is nice, nothing fun ever happens in your comfort zone.

But its a simple fact, one day you are going to find yourself standing before the man in whatever Valhalla or Heaven or Great Castle in the Sky that you believe in and you are going to have to tell your story. Now everyone's story is going to end with...and then it all went black. All the stuff leading up to that is yours to write. Hopefully your story is a good one.

I'll leave you with a little Hunter S. Thompson:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”


  1. I'm also thirsty for thirsty. I did the do ... I grew up, I got a satisfying job, I bought a house, I paid off all my debt (including my mortgage), I went to school (I'm a bit backwards in that part of life) and completed an Associates of Science. The one thing that I'm even slightly thirsty for these days is going back to school to earn a Bachelor degree, but I could never decide in what field of study, and I will have to either move or commute to pursue further education as my local educational choices are lacking to say the least. I'm sorta stuck in between dreams ... living mortgage free and moving for college. I'm no spring chicken, but neither am I 87. Damn opportunity cost.

  2. I don't normally read self-help books, but one of my friends gave me a book that she loved and wanted me to read it. I did. The book was called, "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield, who is a screenwriter/author. The book was written to help people do that thang they want to do whether it is painting or writing or whatever. It was a short book and it was interesting. Since I am the great procrastinator, I could use a kick in the pants.