Dark Glass

“Imagine living with no fear. Ever. That would take some getting used to. So would a world where loving your neighbor was the only option.”

It’s time for a breather from the apparently controversial topic of religion and faith. I’ve learned very many are quick to point fingers, rather than welcome the idea that G-d has wider arms about those who are welcomed into the afterlife than us weak humans.

At the very foundation of all of us is the sick and cold realization that we have in some part contributed to the moral decay of this world through our actions, poor choices, and inability to live at the fullest of our potential. The octopus squirts its ink and darts away from the imminent judgement call of personal responsibility.

I went on a hike this morning and took several hours to reflect on life, nature, and the upcoming weeks. This move to Los Angeles has been one that has certainly pushed me to the point of being uncomfortable. It hasn’t yet pushed me to the point of fighting for my very survival. Rather, fighting for a comfortable peace of mind.

Thinking back to my grandfather, I can only wonder the eyes of which he saw the world. As somebody who had fought for his very life; facing many life-threatening circumstances (wild animals, sharks, cannibals, fighter planes, guerilla warfare, and U.S. Customs Agents, to name a few…) he was one who truly appreciated the intricacies of life with the appreciation and comprehension of one who had come very close to not being able to take another breath. Being shot down in the ocean – for the second time – offers you much time to think about the state of your life. Whether it was staring down the eyes of a charging wild boar, or looking up to the sky in a malaria-induced hallucination, he saw life through eyes that many cannot even begin to comprehend.

He was raised in a not-perfect household where he was taught to live a life that thrived off of adventure. One of the most poignant parts of his book is a short bit where he speaks of gunning down this charging wild boar. The reason it stuck out to me was not because he survived the encounter, but because he could not help but hide the shame he felt at having used a machine gun, rather than his single-shot hunting rifle, to take down the beast; a lesson he learned from his father (my great-grandfather) who was a well-known big game hunter who would only take one bullet when he hunted, “to even the odds” he believed.

Another famous trigger squeeze came as my grandfather launched a surprise attack against a roaming band of enemy guerillas in the jungle. As the squad leader, his platoon was to wait until he first pulled the trigger before opening fire on the enemy. As a man who had come in many situations that nearly relieved him of his life, I can only owner what went through his mind as he pulled the trigger on his Thompson submachine gun, sharply piercing the chest of the enemy platoon leader with .45 caliber lead. Take a deep breath.

Adventure. Writing about these stories makes me want to partake in some sort of in-kind spirited life experience. As a grandfather, he taught us to be respectable kids, think hard, and get along with each other. As a deceased man, his legacy has taught me to look for the risks/adventures that present themselves in everyday life. Perhaps I don’t have any fighter planes to fly, enemy commanders to ambush, or black market operations to start (he did all of the above), but I can certainly step away from mediocrity and living life as somebody who simply makes it through each day.

Assuming we only have one shot at this life with a span of 75 +/- years, I want to experience as much as I can. For that, I am thankful to be happy to avoid a life that spends 30+ years crammed inside of a cubicle. While there may be rewards to playing the corporate game, there are experiences in life that will never be seen by those too concerned with false security or comforts. Please know I am not condemning – or think less of – those who have chosen this path for their life. However, it’s not for me.

This brings me to a point that I’ve been discovering for several years now. Success is relative. Happiness is attainable. And life is not supposed to be a carbon copy of those around you, regardless of whether or not they all look identical. Perhaps self-employed entrepreneurs don’t have a “real job” that sucks 40 hours per week away from them. They also don’t have to file for vacation allowances several months in advance, among many ‘comforts’.

I recently engaged in a discussion with a very, very close relative. The outcome of the one-sided argument (I kept my cool – they did not) was not pleasant. This discussion left so harsh of an impression on me that I’ve realized it’s best to not concern yourself with the beliefs/views of others, unless advice is asked. In this case, they disagreed with some of my religious perspectives, and sought to ‘correct’ me. Their attempts to do so were shot down by logic and reasoning, and thus they became frustrated.

Not to harp on that case, because I still hold the individual in a high regard. This lesson further reinforced the fact that not everybody thinks the same way you do, nor should they.

Life is beautiful. It’s our differences that unique traits that distinguish the world into what it is. Were there to be a single “correct” idea or lifestyle, it would be silly for others to not adopt it. However, all of us have been born with unique fingerprints; an outer reflection of the inner personality differences we maintain, each of us with our own unique life, patterns, goals, and mannerisms. This is what makes life beautiful.

Is the first cry of a baby any more/less beautiful than a mountain range? Is the “I do” of a wedding ceremony any less/more beautiful than the ocean waves?

Life, friend, is a complex energy we cannot even begin to comprehend. I’m learning to appreciate it more with each passing day.

Take a leap.

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