Monthly Archives: January 2011

A year as a civi

Its not my ETS (end of time in service) anniversary. Its just a year since I really committed to figuring this life out and letting all the war stuff find a back burner. I have been walking down this path, some times stumbling, sometimes sprinting, sometimes low crawling through the mud, but now I keep walking. Its gotten easier, things have smoothed over or scabbed. I have found limitations in some areas and blown through other issues. The thing I find the most poignant and important through this journey is that everything changed when I changed my internal environment.

I am a hostile kind of guy. It was aimed at anyone and anything that got in my way, ground my gears, any process that ticked me off, I used the words hate, furious, and kill A LOT. Going from hostile to peaceful, I don’t think was really an option for me. So my only choice was to change the targets and to change how my internal environment worked.

When I was doing the whole competitive martial arts thing we did a lot of visualization. Visualize the knock out, visualize the soft target openings in the opponent, visualize the win. One of the other things we did was when we got nervous before a match we would visualize the calm spot. Green soft grass, blue sky, blowing wind rustling it, and lots of big trees, this is where my mind ran to.

Then in Iraq it changed, I didn’t visualize knock outs, I visualized a kill, visualized actions on contact, the place I went to, to get myself focused was visualizing my squad dead because of my actions. I developed this burning hell kind of place in my brain and I honed it to a perfect hell over 15 months as a way of ensuring my maximum performance. I took this same smoldering hades visualization home with me, to 610 rush hour traffic (its own version of hell) and then a beast was born. My blood boiled, I raged, I cussed every person out from behind the wheel. In school I thought about breaking the kids neck in the front row that wouldn’t stop answering questions. I thought about active shooters on campus and how I would take them out with my pocket knife! I was a freaking ticking time bomb of rage. The kid with the guitar on the quad, my buddy and I once joked about killing him with the e-string the same way you would tell a toddler a knock-knock joke. The stress chemicals running through my body were bad enough for me, I was half-marathoner and tri-athlete and still had high blood pressure not because I was out of shape but because I was so pissed off all the time. Then I remembered my green grass and swaying breeze.

I start to extinguish my mental hell about this time, last year. I realized I was fighting myself, keeping myself from being happy. I hated being out of the army, I had lost my purpose and my brothers. I was carrying around all those inglorious invisible scars and drowning it all with some beer and Jack. So I stopped fighting the tide I just took a deep breathe and went with it (not to mention Allison’s hand on the back of my head pushing it under water, lol). I limited being angry at people and instead focused all the rage on books and school work. I used the calming visualizations to keep me centered. I thought of graduating, being successful, working in an ER. I thought about helping others, I visualized what would be the best I could do as a civilian. So it emerged, be a good husband, good friend, solid student and eventually use what I learned to serve others. I want to be in an ER and I want to do Urban Search and Rescue. I wanted to pull the other vets, through the gap, that miserable burning hell I had just washed up in and had to make a dead sprint past the devil to make it home. I wanted to do all these things and to do that, hell had to freeze over.

I am plugging along on my little journey here. I am in nursing school, gonna be in an ER inside a year. I will be done with my reserve time shortly after I graduate and then I will apply for the SAR stuff. I work with veterans and they help me too with the Lone Star Veterans and when I was working with the guys at UH, I am now trying to set something up for veterans at UT Health in Houston.

So moral is: I don’t care if you have been out for 40 years or if you got out yesterday or if you never served at all. Change your outlook, the internal environment and monologue. Get rid of the “have tos”, and “shoulds” and go with the “I want tos” and  “I ams”. Find your centering visualization and draw the resolve from there. Kill the mountain one rock at a time. I took the hell fire that was consuming me and used it to power my heart and will. Please, learn how to do the same. Not to shabby for only a year removed but then again, I have always been an overachiever lol


Character of the Happy Warrior

TR reading

Sorry for my absence, going to be more of the same around here. Going through some pretty intense schooling. But I thought I would take time out to drop a little poem on you. Its …. well it is what it is. Took this dumb soldier a couple go rounds to get the real meaning out of it. Enjoy.


English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
391. Character of the Happy Warrior
William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
WHO is the happy Warrior? Who is he
What every man in arms should wish to be?
—It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his childish thought: 5
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright:
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn,
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there, 10
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power 15
Which is our human nature’s highest dower;
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate; 20
Is placable—because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress; 25
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
—’Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill, 30
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:
—Who, if he rise to station of command, 35
Rises by open means; and there will stand
On honourable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim; 40
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state,
Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
Whose power shed round him in the common strife, 45
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind, 50
Is happy as a Lover; and attired
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw:
Or if an unexpected call succeed, 55
Come when it will, is equal to the need:
—He who, though thus endued as with a sense
And faculty for storm and turbulence,
Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes; 60
Sweet images! which, whereso’er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:—
’Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high, 65
Conspicuous object in a Nation’s eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not,
Plays, in the many games of life, that one 70
Where what he most doth value must be won.
Whom neither shape of danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last, 75
From well to better, daily self-surpast:
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name, 80
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven’s applause:
This is the happy Warrior; this is he
Whom every Man in arms should wish to be.