I have off of work today, like many, in honor of America’s military veterans who served this country bravely and with dignity. I understand there is a moral conflict that arises when people think of war and armies in general—but so many young men and women (and their families) make the ultimate sacrifice, not solely to protect our freedom, but to provide for their own. I think often times our service-persons think of their family first when enlisting—as opposed to suiting up and going to war…for many, the military is the only professional option–the only way to provide food, roof,transportation and benefits. I admire our veterans, my grand-fathers included, and their sacrifices—I admire their willingness to put it all on the line to care for their loved ones, and in turn you and I…that is true love for family and country.
The thoughts that accompany day 211:
Today I decided to not just loaf around—as that would stir thoughts of the past and generate an urge to drink. Instead, I am blogging from my old place of employment as I am taking a break from volunteering at the Food Bank. I wrote donation letters to local grocery stores in hopes of soliciting food donations—and gathered up and threw out some spoiled watermelons.
My best friend Jerry, who recently passed, was the heart and soul of the Food Bank, better known as the Food Basket. He volunteered full-time here for over 17 years—if you ask any volunteer, client or staff person they would tell you that Jerry ran this place—he was the Director. He was, and still is the soul of the Food Basket. His spirit, being and memory still drives the daily work-flow—and encourages us all to work our hardest—to believe in what we do…and treat all food insecure families with respect/love.
I have been thinking a lot about Jerry lately. Lila and I went to his memorial this past Saturday—it was beautiful. A friend of ours, at the end of the service, sang two very appropriate songs in his memory 1) Eddie Vedder’s Society 2) The Killer’s—All These Things That I’ve Done. As our friend was singing—there was a beam of light shining down on him through a stained glass window in the church. I can look at it two ways 1) the sun just happened to be shining through at that moment due to the time of the day and location of the sun 2) Jerry was with us—his spirit was the ray of sunshine. I choose the latter. Life is about choices and how we want to perceive things—and since I stopped drinking, I have chosen to perceive life,good or bad, in a more positive light. Jerry’s passing and the last 7+ months of clarity has had me thinking a lot about perspectives and perceptions.
My perspective in many ways is being conditioned to not view challenges in life as a negative. They are just that, challenges. Instead of drinking when times get hard—I utilize my new thought process to work through problems. And when working through problems, as opposed to drowning them—you begin to realize just how much you learn from the not so simple events in life. A person can begin to appreciate the struggle because of the knowledge accrued when you confront life head on. Once you begin to appreciate the struggle—you also appreciate the beautiful moments in life even more: the hugs, smiles, sunrises, sunsets, laughter, hand-holding, companionship,father/mother hood, food, air, water, etc. I can spend $15 for a six-pack and bottle of wine after a tough day at work,or I can sit down, reflect and take that hard day as an opportunity to better myself. If I choose to better myself it creates a trickle down effect for Lila—if I grow as a person, I grow as a father—and if I grow as a father it will ultimately increase the capacity to provide the best life possible for my daughter.
If I had my current perspective this time last year—life would be a lot different in many ways. I would’ve appreciated more of the beautiful moments—the sunsets, laughter—and there are a few hands I wouldn’t have let go…I would’ve held tighter. However, it’s counter-productive to imagine“what could’ve been” as turning back time is an impossible feat. We all have moments we wish we could get back, a mulligan perhaps—but we are where we are for a reason—I truly believe that. And, if a person gives up that reason may become lost. Drinking, for me, was giving up—and I can’t even remember what I was giving up on, as late 2013 and early 2014 are a bit foggy…my memories are sparse and vague. I do know why I didn’t let go completely—and that I have found in the little, beautiful moments with my daughter. I dug a deep hole—and as I was standing in that hole–dirt pouring in, a little hand grasped mine and pulled me out. Her little arms hugged me, her little eyes looked into mine and her little lips said “I love you daddy.” When everyone else, even myself, gave up—she somehow found the little ray of light inside of me, the old me, and helped me begin the journey of putting the pieces back together.
Here’s to the beautiful moments in life that I’ll no longer let pass by—and here’s to the beautiful people who never gave up on those they love. Today has been a special, thought provoking day—a day where I appreciate the hands that let go, and thank with all of my heart the ones that did not. Here’s to our personal rays of light that shine within our lives, providing clarity, during the darker moments.