Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gates of Eden

Well, I don't know, but I've been told
The streets in heaven are lined with gold
I ask you how things could get much worse
--Bob Dylan

Since the war began on 3/19/03, 4415 US soldiers have been killed. Since Obama's Inauguration alone on 1/20/09, 187 have died. The estimate for total wounded is at 32,000. These statistics are shocking given the fact that no one seems to remember we are in a war. We hear daily about Kim Kardashian's dating life, Lindsay Lohans jail time, and which celeb mom dropped their baby weight faster. And though I understand the celebrity phenomenon in our culture, I don't understand how we completely lose sight of things that are most important in our lives. 

Last year, I took a semester off from school & during this hiatus, my mom adopted a US solider named David. David was a 20 year old college student from North Carolina who was stationed in Iraq & had joined an organization that allows you to be "adopted" by a person or family. Through David's deployment, my mom & I sent him letters, clothing, coffee, phone cards...really anything we could think of. David thankfully returned home last winter and we have kept up via facebook. He told me last week that while he was in Iraq, he flew a flag for my mom, and that touched me beyond belief. Besides David, I had never known anyone my own age who had gone to war. However a few weeks ago, my friend Mark left for Afghanistan. 

I met Mark while I was living in Georgia through mutual friends. For me, Mark is just one of those people you instantly click with. He has an incredibly carefree, love of life attitude, mixed with army discipline, and a sense of humor that does the Farrelly brothers justice. To give you a sense of what kind of person he is, one of Mark's favorite songs is: The Time Has Come by Pretty Lights. The song speaks volumes of his character considering it only has one set of lyrics that state, "the time has come for bad things to end, the time has come for life to begin." Mark was training while I was in school, and thus, he only got to visit sporadically. However when he did, he always came prepared with outlandish stories, beers, and skintimate shaving cream (apparently army men love the stuff). Since moving to Vermont, I have kept in touch with Mark because I don't think you ever let good people out of your lives. No matter how much time passes, I know that I can turn to Mark with my problems, and he will recommend a great song to help me through the day.

Thank you to all the troops, and to David & Mark, for letting me in and giving me so much more than I could have ever expected. 
It's strange, but true, that most people do not want to hear the truth. We hide and tell ourselves falsities in hopes that the lies will eventually become the truth. Of course no one ever wants to admit that life has dark holes that can suck you in so deeply, you feel as though you can never escape. You can allow yourself to be sucked into a black hole... sit around in your pajamas all day, hide from real life. Or, you can decide to be a supernova--an energetic light that outshines all others, leaving an everlasting impression before it eventually fades away. I choose the latter.

I think we all have to remember that the realities & hardships in life are what make us human. We have to run the gauntlet of emotions of painloss & terror, in order to appreciate true happiness & peace & love.

"Our finger prints don't fade from the lives we've touched."