Thirty one . . . My mother was the only one that had it right. Everyone else had money on the line that said I would be dead by now. Including me.
. . . I was nearly right. And so were they . . .
I have been home for a year and three days. A year and three days when my odds of dying should have decreased. In fact, the opposite was true.
A week after I touched down in the States, I was hit by a train.
The car I was driving was destroyed, the engine knocked free. I stepped out of the wreck unscathed. Except for the hangover . . .
I have wrestled a tireless hydra of personal and professional problems in the ‘tween time. Relationships of both kinds have carved their marks into me.
The Army has bled me. Pinned me full of gold stars and merit badges and kicked me back under my rock. I spent most of the year in that dark place.
I spent much of it drunk . . . incoherent . . . and came out the other side laughing. The bombs and bullets all missed their mark. Not even my own foolishness could kill me, despite my best efforts. I have cursed and blasphemed whatever God would have me. Not to mention any mortal within earshot.
I have come a long way. Even when I couldn’t walk, I was carried . . . For I am truly blessed. I have wonderful friends. Old friendships, grown stronger. A new friend, one I trust with my life.
I had the following exchange with my good friend Trevor today:
— What did you learn this past year such that you earned your keep?
I learned that, too often, people assign moral values to things, or events, because of a perceived quantitative plus or minus to some aspect of their life. Bills are a net minus of funds, work is a net minus of time, but that does not necessarily make them “bad” or “evil” anymore than a hurricane is evil because of net minus property loss or even loss of life.
Assigning moral value to amoral events colors our view of the world, stains it, and diminishes our experience of the “outside dream” that we share.
There are immoral people, or at least people behaving immorally, that effect our lives. We choose to let those things be net minuses to the qualitative value we place on our lives.
Self-ownership means understanding how to control the quantitative aspects of ones’ life such that we can more easily understand and control the qualitative aspects. My “highest goods” are not someone else’s, and are not dependent upon anyone else. Fear and worry over life’s constants . . . government corruption, misfortune, even tragedy . . . only drain us of precious will that can be better focused elsewhere. Fear and worry come from willingly accepting what others tell us about the world. They require our consent, as forms of willing self-abuse, and self-punishment.
I do not want to voluntarily sacrifice love or happiness or personal growth or achievement because of needless or irrational fear. There is nothing irrational about a fear of heights – it is perfectly rational to fear the immediate reality of pain and death. Fearing what another thinks of me, of my goals, my aspirations, of a choice I made that has no moral or ethical impact on their lives, is a waste of time.
-isms only hurt us if we let them.
It is possible to eat, drink, and be merry.