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Below you will find some thoughts that I have had over the years.  Inspiration has come from sometimes very small events
 in my life that, at the time, may not have seemed to be all that significant.  Yet, they grew over the years to something
 that I could then put on paper.  The one with which I am most content is "The Souls Who Were Left on Shore". 
The profound feeling of letting someone down can last a lifetime.  Yet, I am constantly reminded that the choices
we make are contained within the fabric of life, and in the end, were there for a reason.

The Winds of Change

I sat, pensively, watching, listening.
I felt the warm breeze surround me, familiar,
Like an old worn glove.
I watched and listened.
Suddenly, in the distance, a tree well known to me appeared different.
It swayed unlike it had before. I wondered, what could this mean?
Another tree, and then still another became strange.
The first wisps touched my face and arms.
Though the new air was also warm, I became chilled.
I was afraid, and I knew.
I would no longer sit and see and hear what I had before.
The breeze became steady.
The winds of change were upon me.

     Kilo Bravo        (1989)

The Souls Who Were Left on Shore

     There often comes a time in a persons life when they reflect upon times long gone by.  Those events from years ago that helped shape our lives are there forever, they cannot be changed, you cannot go back.  That somber realization can have one of two effects.  A person can drown themselves in a sea of misery from chances not taken, or they can use those memories to hammer themselves with a greater resolve to start to do things right.  Although the former often has appeal because it requires little or no effort, I chose the latter . . . It is the harder road.

     Military Special Forces have simple codes.   One of those codes is that no soldier is left behind.  When the beach is lit up from mortars and tracers from automatic fire, no expense is too great to make sure that all personnel are extracted from the mission.  Call in an air strike.  Radio in for more support.  But there in lies a dilemma.  What if the cost to retrieve one soldier means that ten will be lost?  What if all of the available resources are spent?  What if there are simply no more viable options, and you have to leave lest everyone dies?  Who suffers worse, those left behind, or those who have to carry on with life and complete more missions? . . . I think we know.

     Often, the most dangerous military missions are left to volunteers.  They know that they may not return.  But what about our missions in everyday life?  Do we not volunteer every day to live?  There are risks in every decision that we make.  Is it the correct one?  Do we have the strength to complete a mission?  Do we have the intelligence to make it successful?   How do we feel when the mission goes bad? . . . I can tell you.

     Nothing cuts deeper into a person's soul than the realization that they have been less than their all and that they have let someone down, that they have left someone on shore.  It matters not that the odds of success in the face of overwhelming firepower were so minute that all the experts agree that no person could have possibly succeeded under those dire circumstances.  But the experts were not there on the beach . . . I was.

     So what do you tell the soul that you have left stranded?  Do you engage in a ritual of self disembowelment, or ramble on and on with shallow excuses?  They probably already know that you did what you thought was your best at the time, but you failed.  Most likely they have already forgiven you.   Yet one is still left yearning to reach out to them and at least say "I'm sorry."  But there is nothing you can say.  So what do you tell yourself?   Again, the answer is nothing.  But this is not the point at which all hope is lost, but rather, this is where hope begins.  When the battle is at its peak, when all of hell is laid out in front of you, beckoning you to be consumed, stop for just one short moment and listen to the beating of your own heart.  There, you will find the answers and the strength you need to carry on.  Take what you need, then get back in the fight.  And if you do, and remain true to your mission, you will bring new life to the souls you thought you had abandoned, and their parting will not have been in vain.   For ultimately, you will find that the soul that you risked loosing the most, the one that needs saving, is your own.

 Kilo Bravo           (8 August 2001)


Just Another Name Engraved in Stone

     For as long as man has been on this earth, he has undertaken a quest for immortality.  History has shown many an expedition has searched for the promise of everlasting life in the Fountain of Youth.  But alas, the fountain has been as elusive as the snipe from our childhood years.  As hard as we have looked, tiring ourselves in the process, our term on earth will eventually come to an end.

     Some elect to raise monuments so that others might see.  Buildings and bridges of granite and steel shall certainly resist the elements, bearing the names of those with the imagination and the will power to build.   Surely these great structures will give the builders a life beyond themselves so that others might read the plaques and remember.  But even the great pyramids are slowly succumbing to the winds of time.  Dust shall replace them.  And someday, they too, will be forgotten.

     So where does one go to find the answers for everlasting life?  Is there any place on earth that holds that truth?  In fact, I believe there possibly may be.  The truth may be found in a remote village far below the summit of Mount Everest.  For years, the people in the settlements have recognized the absolute need for humility and deep respect for the mountain.  Mountain climbers with good intentions and a pure heart have been allowed to return.  Others, overwhelmed with pride, arrogance, and a need to conquer, now litter her slopes with their frozen remains.

     So how does one find life on a mountain of death?   One needs to look no further than within their own soul.  For therein lies the ultimate truth.  What are the deep motivations of a person?  Even the outward appearance of generosity may be marred by an internal desire for recognition.  No, only those whose intentions are pure, filled with genuine empathy and humility, shall be granted a pass to travel on.  The choice is ours.

     Where will your name reside?  Will yours be just another name engraved in stone, only to be blown smooth with time?  Or will your name be etched deep within the souls of others, as one who really cared?  We must all climb Everest, if only in spirit.  That journey will last our lifetime.  And if you have succeeded in overcoming the perils of the ascent, and if your intentions have remained pure, then you will be permitted to return to base camp with a deepened sense of reverence and thankfulness.  And you will then know what it meant to have lived.  And you will understand the truth.

        Kilo Bravo          (10 March 2002)