Because I need a place to organize all the shit in my head and my heart in a meaningful way. Because I want to write everything down and take pictures and make them into something beautiful and meaningful. Because this is an invitation to celebrate life sober or drunk, young or old, tame or wild, restrained or free- but, most preferably, wild and free.
03 Mar 18
Filling in the gaps
Square Space just totally messed me up. I had this whole mind-blowing (at least in my head it was 'mind-blowing') post written about why I started this blog, and it refreshed back to the template because it's in 'preview mode' and isn't my current 'live' template. I guess that taught me another lesson that I seem to learn every so often: save as I go. Why I only apply practical principles to my professional life and not my personal life is a mystery to me. My dumb-ass memory gets wiped clean every so often, and I have to start all over again. The is partly why I have this space: because there is so much information I want to compile and shape.
I gave this whole dissertation of why I'm here, how I got here, and that I am active duty and how I use writing and the outdoors as my chosen form of therapy. And this is why I write so much down and take so many photos, people. Because I can't remember what I did yesterday and what I even wrote not 30 minutes ago. Because I struggle to be social- when I shouldn't be since I am actually 'good with people'- and because something broke inside of me and has been unraveling little by little until it finally boiled over. And now all I want to do is heal and live and adventure. Because if you met me for the first time in real life, or if you even know me on a professional or personal level, you wouldn't even know that my brain runs a hundred miles an hour, writing on a mental chalkboard like Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind", minus the fucking-genius part of it. You wouldn't even know that underneath that uniform I struggle with "normalcy" and that I have been to that dark place at least twice in my life, and I never gave myself the chance to deal with it. I wrapped it up in a bow and fucking called it "resiliency". Yup, I have resiliency, in a world where people easily break over being called a name once when they were a kid. Because we all got made fun of when we were kids at some point- right? And most of us turned out 'normal'- right?
But not all of us joined the service and became Sailors. Not all of us did more than 10 deployments. Not all of us are men or women who are scrutinized under a microscope against an unrealistic game of odds who have to lead young men and women through some unique challenges. Not all of us had to hold groups of people together when everything and everyone was falling apart around them- life or death, failed mission or successful mission. Everyone either wins or loses. In the end, maybe everyone just loses.
I am a patriot and a big fan of the human race. My therapy literally IS hiking and writing. It's not just another clever slogan on a sticker made to sell. It's the real deal. I know there are others who know how I feel or have felt the heavy weight of responsibility and accountability on their shoulders. I know there will be others.
For the longest time, I grew up believing that following my heart was wrong and selfish and that it made me a terrible person. That it wasn't harmonious to who I was as a daughter, a Shipmate, and a leader. But I believe that my existence means something, that my days weren't and aren't wasted, and that I have contributed something worthwhile to this dark, yet beautiful world. Maybe my time spent outdoors and off on some random adventure was meant to inspire someone, even if it's just one person. Maybe it's my way of connecting with other veterans who have the same stories to share and the same steam to blow off. Maybe my words might reach someone who is in a dark place or who is coming out of that dark place.
This is my small contribution to the community and the natural world. This is where I close the gap with taxpayers' dollars. Yes, I show up to 'work' every day in uniform and do my duties. But this is my therapy and my drug, and hopefully it helps you and I bring light to the dark places we sometimes don't even know we're in. Hopefully, it helps me remember all the tiny little reasons I should celebrate life- because "hello?", life as you and I know it, is all we have. And I don't know what's on the other side, but I'm going to assume that this is all I have for now and that what I do here actually matters.
my daily mantra
Last weekend my sister and my brother-in-law brought me to the Bhutan store on Topanga Canyon. Bhutan is a Buddhist country- or 'kingdom', rather- in the Himalayas, if you didn't know. I didn't, until then. Anyways, some prayer beads caught my eye, which is ironic because I don't pray. I mean I mutter a prayer under my breath every so often, like "please don't tell me I have to do that shit over again" or "please tell me everything is going to be okay." Even when I was going through some deep doo doo several years ago, and even last year, I didn't really say a prayer to the mysterious entity up above. I've separated myself from religion and struggled with the idea of a superior, all-knowing God. This is horrifying to actually finally admit openly because I come from a deeply religious practicing-Catholic family. This is one of the worst things I can say other than "I don't want kids", where my mom is concerned, and I hope she never reads this because she will have an aneurysm.
Although, I've been wanting to work on my 'spiritual side' for a while now. It was my intention to work on it in 2017, and because I never wrote much that year and because I neglected my planner and journal, I always forgot to remind myself that this was important to me. Now in 2018, I've revisited that intention, and I fully plan on attending to that otherworldly side of myself. This isn't to say I've come to terms with God and that I want to alienate myself from anyone who believes in God. Because I don't. This also isn't a personal attack on religion, because as a patriot, I believe that this country is founded on freedom of religion, and I believe that Christianity certainly influenced the principles this country was founded upon. There are a lot of Christian haters around as well as atheists that are anti-God and anti-pledge-of-allegiance, and I'm NOT that person. There is in fact TOO much hatred being tossed around and that's definitely not my purpose.
For God's sakes- no pun intended- this isn't even about religion. But it certainly provided the backstory for this narrative.
This is about the wisdom the owner of the Bhutan shop imparted upon me that day and what I want to take with me out on my adventures. This is about just becoming a better human being. When I went to pay for the beautiful prayer beads I wanted to hang around my rearview mirror in my car- to remind me to be grateful and thank the universe for life- he asked me if I wanted a 'mantra'. Why "yes, of course!" I wanted a mantra! Duh! I didn't even know a mantra could go with the necklace, but then again, I don't know a lot about Buddhism. He wrote the mantra down on a small piece of notebook paper and told me to repeat it several times a day. I didn't catch how many times, so I'm wondering if I'm falling short on my mantras. Anyhow, this is the mantra: "OM MANI/PADME HUNG./HRI. <-- Just like that, but in blue ink, meaning "love, kindness, and compassion." He said everybody wants love, kindness, and compassion, but they don't really know how to give it. He said that when people argue and have conflicts in marriages and relationships they want these things but they aren't giving it in return.
I thought about that for a second, and I related that to what's going on in our precious country. People are spewing hateful words and acting out in hate back and forth and barely anyone is saying, "Let's step back for a minute and stop repeating mistakes of the past and stop repeating the cycle of hate." Everyone wants to be right and have the last word. Everyone feels like they have been wronged. What if everyone just said, "Fuck this shit. Let's drop it and start over." It's hard to do, I imagine, especially if both sides or differing camps believe so strongly in what they have learned and been told. Especially if there are historical facts and data to support various ideas and beliefs. It's hard showing love, kindness, and compassion no matter what, but ironically, we want it blindly. We believe we deserve it from strangers, from our loved ones, from our co-w0rkers. We believe that being a decent human being is the right way to be. We believe that we are owed that.
I learned a long time ago that the universe owes us nothing. That no one owes us anything. We think they do, but they don't. Love and acts of kindness are given freely when they are genuine and from the heart. They aren't 'paid back' because someone feels "guilty" or owes us for the love and acts of kindness we have given to them.
That's the funny thing about the wild and this particular mountain I like to hike. It just is. There is no hate in it, and there is no love in it. There is no 'right' and 'wrong'. I go there to escape the negativity and nonsense, and I have this secret mantra, this silent prayer, that I repeat to myself, whenever I can remember to, and hope that I freely give those things away as much as I would like to receive them in return.