The Lowland Vs. The Alien.

I recently read the novel The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.  It won a Pulitzer Prize, and when Entertainment Weekly said it developed excellent character tension, I felt I had to read it.  So I sat down for some good old fashionable ‘everybody’s reading it’ literature The Lowlandtime.  With sincerest praise, I have to say the book was fabulously crafted in terms of the art of words, but character tension?  [SPOILER ALERT]  More like wet rag tension.  Seriously, the woman has a baby and just doesn’t love it, so she abandons it to go teach college classes on the… wait… what?  You did WHAT?  Holy hell woman… you didn’t mind making the thing… (deep breaths).  People who don’t step up to their parental responsibilities because they ‘just didn’t feel like it’ are straight losers, NOTHING more.  You made the child, you RAISE the child.  Now… if she felt she was going to be a really bad mother, say she was a drug addict and was worried she’d destroy the kid’s life or was embarrassed to face the little girl…  If she left because of a reason like that, a bit of protecting the innocent against personal failure, I might be able to accept it.

That got me thinking, what else might have tightened up this milquetoast plot?  Then, as I was browsing the web, I had an epiphany!  All Lahiri had to do was add ALIENS to the alien_from_the_movieplot.  I’m not talking about pointy-chinned, big-eyed aliens.  I’m talking about THE ALIEN—a twin-jawed, long-skulled, lurkin-in-the-shadows, acid-bleeding, parasitic-young-choking-the-life-out-of-the-limp-wristed-father monster from the hell of deep space.

In that vein the book would have become much more interesting.  The characters would be forced from the broken record of mewling over life losses they should have nutted up and gotten over years ago to loadin’ solid slugs into 12 gauge Mossbergs…

 

The mother’s role as absent collegiate student leaving the daughter to a bleak existence would shift dramatically…

She heard her mother typing in the bedroom…  tippity tappity, tippity… Silence fell.

“Mom?”

A scuttling sound.

The girl went to the door.  Touched it’s smooth, grained surface.

“Mom?”

A black spike slammed through the wood, a few inches from the girl’s face.

 

And for the estranged relationship between the father and the daughter…

She’d grown distant from him, not talking… because she had a pale, spiderish embryo alien-facehugger-on-kane1strapped to her face, its long, whip-like tail coiled around her throat.  When he tried to speak to her, she wouldn’t respond, and that made him feel sad.  Very, very, really, really sad.

 

And the absent mother…

She’d been gone from their lives for twenty years now… because she’d had her chest blown out by an Alien spawn that proceeded to eat the face off every member of the snobby philosophy department she had worked in.  When the older man, who’d been kind of a gross daddy-issues love interest took a shot at it, the blood spray burned his skull in half.

Okay, NOW we’re cooking with gas!  The Lowland becomes the Awesomeland.

 

Who might you pit the Alien up against?  (If you say the Predator you’re out.)

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Top Ten Reasons Why Being a Nexus-6 Replicant Would be Awesome.

Blade Runner Police Cars

Blade Runner plays off the Nexus-6 replicants as troubled souls who just want more life.  Why?!?!  They’ve got four years of AWESOME!!!  Here are the top ten reasons they should stop getting their tears all mixed up with rain and start makin’ memories…

 1 — Jumping.Roy Batty Jump

You know those free runners?  You’d be able to make them look like geriatrics with walkers.

2 — Fashion

From clear plastic raincoats to nutsy face paint, you could do and wear any weird crap you wanted and people would just have to be all *shrug* he/she’s a replicant.

3 — Killin’ Bladerunners

‘Cause Gaff has it comin’.

Hannibal Chew Blade Runner4 — Eyes

Seeing what Roy Batty saw with Hannibal Chew’s eyes.

5 — Cooking

No more need to cool the water before getting’ yourself a boiled egg.

6 — A Four Year Lifespan

At first blush, that sounds like it would suck, but think about it, you only have to have your teeth cleaned eight times!

7 — Family

LeonYou’d be engineered so, come the holidays, there’d be no irritating relatives to deal with… unless you worked with Leon, who’d show up wearing a Christmas sweater and mouth breathe as he told you misty-eyed stories about his childhood.  “My mother?  Lemme tell you about my mother…”

8 — Hangin’ Off the Shoulder of Orion

‘Cause that would be awesome.

Blade Runner Roy Batty Chess9 — Being Good at Chess

I suck at chess, so that’s always a selling point.

10 —

Drum roll please…

Smashin’ Eyeballs.Batty and Tyrell

Why?  ‘Cause sometimes you get created by a genius who just doesn’t care that he shafted you for his own profits.

 Bonus!!! The SOUNDTRACK!

Not the Vangelis sleeper!  The White Zombie masterpiece!  Anyone?!?!  ….anyone?

More Human Than Human

What’s the first thing you’d do if you were Nexus-6?

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Saturn’s Rough, Ugly Secret.

It looks like perfection... but...I found myself transfixed by this image of Saturn.  It was taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it passed into the gas giant’s shadow in July 2013.  The article is here.  I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot, and as I mulled it over, I began to consider—no matter how odd the connection—Saturn’s seemingly perfect beauty and the nature of success.  The connection arose from my own quest to becoming a professional author, during which I’ve had many difficult challenges, the largest being faith in self.

David and GoliathIn his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell discusses our tendency to compare ourselves, not with an entire population, but with those directly around us.  This is dangerous because, while we might be doing very well, if we compare ourselves to the wrong peer group, we’ll never feel like a success.  If we don’t feel like a success, we can lose motivation.  By feeling that we’re the only ones who struggle, our chances of quitting skyrocket.  If I hold my career up to James Patterson’s and Stephen King’s, I’ll surely (at this point) fall short, and that doesn’t feel good.

To compound this, I’ve seen a tendency for people to make a key error when considering those who’ve already made it.  Those at the top often seem to have easy lives, and the story of their rise to success sounds quick as it is told, but like the rest of us, most who’ve achieved success had days filled with doubt, failure, and lack of self worth.  When we look at successful people, we’re at a distance from which they appear perfectly put together as though it’s always been that way.  This is much like the seeming perfection of Saturn and its blade-like rings.  While those rings appear to be smooth, when we get up close, we find something very different.  “Truth is, the rings only look solid. They are really a jumbled mess made up of millions and millions of pieces of ice and rock, ranging in size from tiny grains of dust to chunks bigger than a house.” (Nasa, July, 22nd, 2004).

This is a critical issue because believing that those who’ve come before us had, and Top View Saturn reducedare having, nothing but smooth seas can be self-defeating.  When we understand that everyone around us, even the most successful, have days of doubt and failure, we begin to understand the truth of success.  It isn’t smooth and beautiful.  When we get up close, it’s rocky, disjointed, and ice cold.

Why is this important?  Because the key to success has little to do with the days of wine and roses.  It’s actually seated firmly in the bad days.  Fundamentally, we must understand that success’ fate is balanced on how we respond to those bad days.  We all have them, we all fail, and we all doubt.  Seeing the beauty of success is fine, as long as we don’t deceive ourselves on what it’s made of.

Has anyone else known those with success who’ve struggled as much as the rest of us?

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Lawyer Reynolds… bwahahaha

Airborne Semi Truck

Had to share this video.  First off, anything that reminds me of the Fall Guy is money (had a HUGE crush on Heather Thomas in that series-I was ten). :)  More importantly it struck me how adding pop culture elements to something like this magnifies the experience so much.  The first pass is interesting, but the moment the other shows’ themes play I was sucked in through the powerful associations to shows we’ve loved.  Well done dgrove81!

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Prodigies in Chafing – Five Star Trek TNG Characters That Rub Me the Wrong Way

I’ve been rewatching the series and most of the time I absolutely love the show, but let me tell you, there are some really, really irritating characters tucked away, which can generate such a strong facepalm reaction there should be a warning label to remove your glasses in the Netflix summary.

The Skin of Evil

This oily character would probably have been an effective villain if it hadn’t had three key faults.Skin of Evil

ONE-

Its speech impediment is so nasty it can hardly be understood.  “Bwahahaha, I’m going to kill Tasha Yar!”

“What?”

“I said I’m going to—”

“Can’t understand a word dude.  Sounds like you’ve got a mouth full of motor oil and marbles.”

TWO-

He looks like a wookie who swam too close to a BP oil rig.  A sorry sight yes but not really that threatening.

THREE-

The core reason he’s irritating though is that he’s too heartless with pointless motivation.  I enjoy a villain I can relate to and can feel his or her cause.  I can’t sympathize with this guy.

Lieutenant freakin’ Barclay.

BarclayThis nervous, simpering character needs no explanation.  When I see his name on the show summary on Netflix I have to fight my urge to skip it.  (I’m rewatching them all dammit!!!)  How’d this head-case pass the psych evaluation to get into Star Fleet?

“Let’s see, test shows he’s stark raving nuts with a tendency for lewd holodeck behavior.  Let’s put him in charge of something with antimatter.”

Barclay needs to go back to welding armor plating onto semis (If you get that… you’re cool).

All Ferengi

I love how these guys first show up as uber powerful aliens with massive ships chocked full ferengio’ scary tech.  However, they proceed to break down into bad likenesses of horny chimpanzees.

Data- “According to our records, the Ferengi throw poo.”

Troy- “It’s a cultural practice we must respect.”

Could we make a villain more irritating?  Well… yes, but then I’d definitely start skipping episodes.

Any character who plays a snobby Chopin piece.

Princes of BoringSeriously, is everyone in the future a prodigy of boring?  Where’s the 24th century’s Deadmau5?

Jordi- “Where are you going?”

Dr. Crusher- “I’m heading over to the Rave in 10 Forward.  O’Brien’s DJ’ing.”

Jordi- “NICE!”

Sadly this pulls one of my beloved characters (Data) into the mix.  He is the only one who gets a pass, but BARELY because isn’t going to a concert by him the equivalent of sitting down to listen to one of those automated Yamaha pianos sew through a few tunes?

“Are you going to come to my recital of Piano Sonata number 1?”Q-tip Jitsu

“No… HELL no.  I’m going to a Q-tip Jitsu match with Riker on Risa.”

If you haven’t seen Q-tip Jitsu, you should study Riker and his father’s fights.  The outfits are… while not instilling great respect… are… well… they’re ridiculous.

Dr. Katherine Polaski.

PolaskiI couldn’t stand the combative nature of this character.  Conflict between characters should have grounds in something the audience can identify with.  Someone once told me it was just that I didn’t like strong female characters.  No, I don’t like rude characters.  True strength has little to do with unwarranted brashness.  Can you imagine working with her?  She’d pronounce your name wrong, and when you corrected her, she’d scan you as she accused you of having a circuit for hurt feelings.  Stuff it doc!  When Crusher showed back up in season 3 I could have hugged her.

 What characters make you groan when they come on screen?

Who’s your favorite?

 Awesome

 

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Free Nachos–the Secret to Life, the Universe, and Everything

I had an interesting experience during a recent trip to L.A.  When we arrived at our hotel, tired and ready to rest, the clerk told us complimentary snacks and drinks would be served for two hours in the center courtyard of the hotel.  Free snacks and drinks!?!?  You’ve got my attention.  We parked the car, ditched our bags in the room, and went to the courtyard.  There we found everything from a nacho bar, to popcorn, to free sodas, and beers.  Free beers!

Best.  Hotel.  EVER.

I sat down with my loot in a fabulous mood.  As our group talked, I heard the professionally dressed woman at the next table say, “Well I don’t know about yours, but our rental car is awful.  Whenever you turn in bonus miles for a car, they give you the run down ones.”

My ears perked up.  This woman got free food, a free glass of wine, and a free freakin’ car!  Must be clean livin’.  …but she was complaining.  She wasn’t being rude, and she wasn’t tearing anyone down, but as I ate my free nachos, something I’ve been aware of for some time came back into my thoughts.  It might not have in another setting.  I mean, free nachos… gimme a break!  We have a running family joke that goes like this:  when you’re telling a story and begin to realize that it’s going to be a dud, just end the story by finding five dollars or getting free nachos.  …and here we were eating free nachos.  Best. Story.  EVER.

Yet this woman wasn’t happy.  I’ve come to understand an important truth: I can only focus on one thing at a time.  Multitasking is an illusion.  Studies have shown that those who try to multitask too aggressively create a drop in quality across their entire workload.  Why?  The human mind can think about only one thing at a time.  Now don’t kid yourself here.  We can switch back and forth, but we have a single processor.

If we can only focus on one thing at a time… what will it be?  I now know (wish I knew it then) that I have a choice on what I focus on, what I focus on becomes habitual, and what I focus on habitually becomes my reality.  At the end of a day with equally bad and good elements, what do I tell my wife about when I come in the door?  You can bet I tell her about the jerk who tailgated me.  I mean who the heck drives like that?  Meanwhile, I’m not focusing on the fact that the other 237 drivers I interacted with on the freeway were safe and courteous.

Negativity is a difficult habit to break.  I learned at an early age to focus my attentions on the negative aspects of life.

“Don’t touch that table,” my mom would say, “it looks dirty.”

“Stay away from that tiger,” my dad would say, “it looks hungry.”

Jeeze.

Being able to see the negative side of the world is critically important.  If I can’t effectively assess dangers, I can’t make good decisions about them.  This summer a high school girl in our town, driving alone on the freeway, rolled her car end over end because she was texting, a good example of someone who maybe could use a moment to consider negative outcomes a bit more.

I grew up to far on the other side.  I came to a point in which worry and negativity was shutting down my life.  What I worried about wasn’t helping me be better off.  When a tailgater snuggles in behind me on the freeway, sure I need to increase my own following distance and watch out for problems, but beyond that, how does brooding over the lack of respect the person is showing me move me forward?  Simply put, it doesn’t.

I’ve finally learned the value of actively choosing what I’m thinking about.  I have a choice on what to focus on.  I have control.  So, when we got to LA, tired and late, what did I focus on?  You bet I focused on free freakin’ nachos, and I was happy.  In younger years, I might have spent time thinking about the security lines at the airport, or how difficult travel is on my 6’3” frame, or the delay at the rental car agency, but none of that would serve me.  If it isn’t going to serve me, I’ve decided I want to let it go.

How do I let it go?  My personal key is gratitude.  Asking myself what I am sincerely grateful for pulls me out of a funk faster than anything I’ve yet found.  What was that professional looking woman grateful for?  I have no idea.  She was so caught up in what she considered a slight that she not only was taking over her own day with it, she was taking up everyone around her with it as well!

I know this to be true:  What we focus on becomes our reality, but that reality is relative to what we choose to focus on.  I mean give me a break, she had free nachos in front of her and chose to spend her evening focusing on dirty rental cars?  Seems like a missed opportunity to have an awesome night if you ask me.

Are you grateful for your nachos?  :)

 

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No D’Arce Choke? No Problem!

Have you ever had that feeling that no matter what you do, you’re getting nowhere?  That feeling is an old… friend of mine.  However, lack of progress is a dangerous illusion.

I’ve recently been reading the Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.  I highly recommend it.  His The Slight Edgeargument that the little things we do daily, over time, lead up to the positive or negative outcomes of our lives is dead on.   He states several times that these positive or negative changes are subtle.  I couldn’t agree with this more based on my experience in martial arts training.

I go to class and lose.  I learn a new variation of D’Arce choke or arm bar from spider guard, try to apply it, and my opponent slips free.  The next day, I get submitted… and the next.  However, the other day, I arm-dragged my instructor, got him in a traditional rear-naked choke and he tapped.  I let him go and thought, wait a minute… I just tapped Joey!  Two freakin’ years, and I finally won!  You’ll forgive me if I took a moment to celebrate.

That seemed to be a significant change in my game, but the truth of the matter is, I’d been getting closer and closer to that moment each day I attended class.  When we show up to face our challenges, millimeter by millimeter, we improve.  The dangerous part is, we can’t feel the change, which is the largest reason people give up.  The trouble is inherent in our primary motivation.  We are programmed to need confirmation that our actions are leading to success.

Olson makes the comparison to turning the light on in a dark room.  “When you enter a darkened room, why does your hand reach out for the light switch?  Because you know that when you hit the switch, the light will go on.”  (The Slight Edge, 2011, p.46)  He offers the comical image of people giving themselves positive assurances before reaching for the light switch.  We don’t need self-talk in this situation because we know flipping the switch will result in the outcome we want.

When we’re reaching for challenges beyond illuminating a room, we have to operate not on assurances, but a kind of faith.  We must believe that, despite all appearances, when we show up daily, we are moving in the right direction.  Most new martial artists quit after they achieve yellow belt.  Why?  Because they had a vision of what training would look like, and at first, there is a quickness and excitement to learning—new kicks, punches, throws, etc.  The light comes on when we throw the switch.  However, as the first year wanes, the learning seems to slow and can become boring.  Students throw the switch, but there is little illumination.  They feel the same day after day, even worse as the challenges increase.  In lack of understanding in the process, they lose motivation and quit.

However, if we keep showing up no matter what the challenge is, one day the light does come on.  Rarely at first, but after a while we begin to realize that if we make small, good choices today, then do it again when tomorrow is today, and do that every day, then the forward motion becomes a bit like running down the other side of the mountain.

For more detail check out www.TheSlightEdge.org.  I think it’s worth a look.

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No Fear… Sort of.

I’m not afraid to die.

Seriously I’m not, but death still scares the hell out of me.

When I was 18, I had the profound experience of wrecking a motorcycle at 85 miles an hour off a cliff on Mary’s Peak, the highest point in Oregon’s Coastal Mountain Range.  While my motorcycle hit a curb and flipped up in the air and over the cliff’s edge, I missed the curb, hit the grass, flipped onto my hands and feet and slid to a stop one foot from the edge.  I stood up.  The rider behind me, who thought I’d gone over, said it was as if I’d been resurrected.

It was a resurrection of sorts.  I call September 7th, 1991 my second birthday.  While I was sliding toward the cliff-edge, I thought, “Well, this is it.  I guess I’m going to find out what death is.”  At that moment, a profound peace overwhelmed me.  I’ve since come to understand it as a kind of forced Zen state in which I fully accepted my fate.

When I realized I was still alive, I knew my life had changed but couldn’t quite articulate how.  I didn’t have an epiphany or feel a need to connect with those I love.  I simply felt different.  As the years passed, however, I came to realize that I no longer feared dying.

Being fearless is not being stupid.   I didn’t take bigger risks, in fact I took fewer deadly risks (such as racing motorcycles on open roads), because I valued my life so much more.  Since that time I can sit still, feel my heart beating, and understand that each beat is one fewer I have to live by.  In accepting the end and returning from that precipice, I understand how precious our living days are, and how we must get the most from them.  Being alive is a dazzling gift to which we are not entitled.

The trouble I have is not with my own death but with others’.  I’ve never truly faced the loss of someone close to me.  I’ve lost grandparents, but we grew up distant.  Our family has lost friends, and a kid I knew in high school died in a car crash

, but I’ve not lost someone sincerely dear to my heart.  I’ve never had to face true grief.  It scares the hell out of me because I’m standing at the cusp of it now.  In some way, we all are.

I may be fearless when it comes to my own death, as I’ve seen the peace that lies at its doorway; but for someone else, when I go on living, the loss scares me so much I can barely think of it.  I know I have only one choice, though:  face it head on, survive it, and do the best I can by those I love who are still here.

Tank 001

When I “roughed in” this post, I was thinking of my old lab, Tank, who was downstairs as I wrote.  I didn’t know then how I would handle the loss of a dear friend.  Today, as I edit this post, he is gone, and I know what it means to lose someone dear.  I miss him terribly, but I am so grateful for having had him in my life.  He taught me a great many things, the final lesson being how to face grief.  May you rest in that deep peace friend.

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How Getting Pwned Will Save the World.

“No man is an island.”  John Donne captured this sentiment well when he coined the popular phrase, but it would be 400 years until we achieved this on a global scale.  Later in his Meditation XVII he wrote: “Each man’s death diminishes me—for I am involved in mankind.”  This truth resounds with me.  We are not alone.  We need each other.  In that vein something wonderful is happening to the world, and it gives me great hope.

I recently spoke with a guy who delivers rugs to businesses—the kind that sit at the front door.  He picks up the soiled rugs and drops off the clean ones.  I’d known him awhile, and he struck me as a nice guy—another average Joe in a town surrounded by farmland.  One day he mentioned something about co-op gaming, and I mentioned that I had just picked up Borderlands 2, which my wife and I play together.

I’d hit a vein with him.  He began to talk in depth about how much he loved Call of Duty.  He told me he plays with a fairly dedicated crew of people, and next year as it turns out, they will be gathering in Hawaii to meet face to face for the first time.  There will be people from Australia there, Europe, Japan.  This had a big impact on me not because of the ability to connect, but because of this guy, or who I thought he was.  He was a man’s man, a local boy.  Twenty years ago he would have only hung out with his buddies from high school.  I don’t accept that people are inherently evil, but narrow mindedness follows when we are isolated in our communities.  Where I live, our city is centered in miles and miles of wheat farms.  We are very isolated.

Yet, here before me was a country boy, 200 miles from a major metro area, who was having regular interactions with a guy from the Northern Territory, and a guy in University classes in Tokyo named Takahashi.  He told me about a woman in Frankfurt who swears like a sailor but all ‘auf Deutsch’, and a British dairy farmer who discovered gaming later in life.  This guy is more connected to the world than 99% of the people in the world were ten or twenty years ago, and he’s just an average Joe playing video games.

What does this mean to me?  It means a lasting peace between nations.  Wars and conflict are the result of feeling that ‘the other’ is out there.  But as social connectedness draws across the globe my guess/hope is that the feeling of ‘the other’ will die out.  We cannot help but realize that the woman in Germany, the farmer who lives outside of Leeds-UK, the kid in Tokyo, and the Aussie are all just like us, decent people who depend on good friendships.

…and all that while playing a war game.  I’m not sure John Donne could have seen that coming.

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Carrying Weight.

Recently I had the privilege to take part in a 100lb rucksack march to support Camp Patriot, a charity working to assist disabled veterans.  Camp Patriot focuses on lifting disabled vets up by reminding them of how much they are still capable of.  They put on events such as climbing Mt. Rainier. 

To prepare my pack, I used three 25 lb plates bolted to a board, the rest made up of lead-shot SCUBA weights.  Standing with the pack for the first time, I felt unsure if I could complete the 3.1 mile course.  I’m in pretty good shape for a 40 year old.  I train in Judo and Jiu Jitsu three days a week, and my resting heart rate is regularly below 50 beats per minute.  Yet still, walking for an hour with that much weight is not something I have a lot of experience with.

Sincerely doubting my ability to complete the march, I considered simply doing the course as a jogger, which the majority of participants were doing that day.  However, I felt a need to do more.  I had offered every person who attempted the 100 lb march a signed copy of Hammerhead and knew I’d feel like a quitter if I didn’t march with them.  Also, I had recently watched Restrepo (which I wrote about here). In one scene a young man is firing a fifty cal high on an isolated mountain top—a fifty cal he surely had to carry up the mountain himself.  It didn’t carry itself up.  If those guys can climb a mountain with a fifty cal on their back in a place where they are seeing seven fire fights a day, I could surely do three flat miles.

On the day of the march, I was speaking with Bill Clark who is one of the founders of Camp Patriot.  I had resigned myself to do the best I could, and I told Bill that I would rather try and fail.  At 7:30 in the morning the ‘100 lb club’ geared up, starting out 30 minutes before the joggers began.  In the first quarter mile, I held together pretty well, but in the second, I began to feel the pain.

The pack began to cut into my hips, and my shoulders felt as if the bones might crack.  After what seemed another two miles a man standing beside the trail told me I had found the halfway point.  The course had become hilly now.  Uphill and downhill felt equally difficult.  I became aware of only one sensation, that of having two rusty blades driven down behind my collar bones.

As I walked, I began to think more about Restrepo.  What if the distant hills had snipers?  What I was sincerely unsure if the trail ahead held IED’s?  I was tired and in pain, but what if I had done this for the last four months, and had to do it for another eleven?  There was no chilled water at the end of the trail in the Kandahar valley, no radio DJ’s, no finish line—just a stone seat, intermittent gunfire, and another day of backbreaking weight.

When I had been walking for 45 minutes or so, the morning had begun to grow hot, and I began tilting to my right.  My legs didn’t hurt, but my heart was pounding.  I felt light headed and somewhat dazed.  I made my way up the hill, across the tilting parking lot, and slowly to the finish line, where someone helped me take my pack off.

I walked over to the side, among the packs laying in the grass—the men and women who had been freed from theirs standing in small groups talking.  The quietness was still among them, and I think I understood why.  I think, like mine, their thoughts were on those men and women who had carried weight on their backs in a war zone, or were still carrying weight.  We had come there to support those who had been gravely injured in doing so.  It was not a time for jokes and banter as much as it was a time for reverence to the real impact of war on lives, an impact measured in physical pain and more importantly mental anguish.

A recent Forbes article stated that almost once an hour a military veteran commits suicide.  That is flat-out unacceptable.  I have no other words to describe it.  These men and women broke their backs for us.   I for one am going to do what I can to get that weight off their backs now that they’re home.

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