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Suffering And Silver Linings

Sometimes Im forced by circumstance to halt and take stock or what my life has become, the beneficial turn it has taken through all the innumerable growing pains Ive endured. Im sitting in a luxury hotel drinking imported iced tea, 3000 miles away from a home that hardly recognizes me anymore. A wanderer and adventurer betrothed to the Navy, this journey and all of its trappings were thrust upon me with such sudden surprise that a millenium of planning and preparation wouldve been impotent to help me meet the challenge.

Louis Zamperini, after turning to Christ and surrending himself to our Lord and Savior, reflected upon all that he had endured and encountered. What he had initially believed to be arduous and fatal, an egregious attempt by the world to rob him of his life, dignity and sanity, had actually been a testament to the Love of God. Adrift in the ocean, aimlessly wading precariously above the jaws of death, he viewed his past experiences as perilous and anguished. However, when he revisited that trauma when it was all a memory and had been baptized in the blood of the Lamb, he came to understand the omnipotence of God, how He had willingly plucked him from the tendrils of fatality multiple times. Moment after threatening moment, conflict after tenuous conflict, he was delivered into the waiting arms of safety through the majesty of God's Grace.

While I am in no way comparing myself to Captain Zamperini as it would take a thousand lifetimes to match even a modicum of his greatness, strength and achievement, it is through scholarly study of his monumental example of perserverance, integrity, courageousness and tenacity that we can apply an eternal lesson that echoes through the eras. We all suffer and feel cast out and downtrodden. This is a concrete, basic fact of life that rings true and sound whether you are a devoted Christian or ardent Atheist. Another point can be gleaned from the turmoil we all encounter and fight through, however. The fact is that God wouldnt bring you this far, imbue you with His Holy Blessing, and preserve you in all of your perfection if there wasnt a light at the end of the tunnel. As I pen this the stirrings of ambivalence towards another stressful week are beginning to awaken and gnaw at me. My ever present existential crisis is pining for my ear, begging me to consider fruitlessly what the course of my life is. But they are silenced and beaten, exorcised and subdued by my recognition of the tenet I just mentioned. Keep moving. You've got this.

Last night was a glimpse into what could be in the future. As we spoke, my heart was stirred and a long dormant zest for life was reignited. We weaved elaborate philosophical narratives interspersed with personal tragedies and thoughts. For a moment I was that uncertain, petrified teenager again, caught perpetually between misinformed, immature nihilism and apathetic resignation. My future faded from the horizon, joining the darkness with a chameleonesque flair. My past, normally vibrant and animated, darting in and out of my mind's eye, was robbed of sentience, momentarily exhaling the breath of life and folding neatly into the recesses of my memory. Instead there was only the present, comandeering and regal. This discussion was of the ilk of times long laid to rest, when we were all the shadows of who we would become. Serious topics were discussed. Love long gone and tales of lust unchecked, gone explosively awry. Our constant, unceasing wars with tireless demons, the nightmares and terrors that laid siege to our souls every waking hour. But we both felt a familiar warmth, a bond long seeded yet untarnished. We laughed like children because for the briefest of instances we were youthful and innocent again. Thank you for reminding me of what I deserve and reacquainting me with my true worth. God Bless and take care, my beloved little sister.

Every so often I catch a fleeting portrait of myself in a mirror, and am dismayed at the man that stares back at me. My beautiful Mother always praised my wide, boyish smile. Yet, when unaware and operating solely on autopilot, I find that my face is stern, callous and cold. My eyes are piercing, hardset and focused on some unknown objective. Sometimes Ill meet someones gaze before they look away hastily before checking back cautiously a few calculated seconds later, jarred by my stone features and threatening visage. This aspect of myself, evolved from necessity, is bittersweet. On one hand Im proud to be considered menacing to a certain degree, as inside Ill forever be that scrawny, bookish 8 year old that shrunk from conflict. But on the other, Im horrified at what Ive become. Ive courted hostility, guardedness and violence for so long that it has permeated every aspect of my being. Whether it's scanning a room for potential opponents or feeling my fists unconsciously clench whenever I catch someone looking at me with an alien expression a little too long for my liking, I notice the damage that has been done. As I grow older, I pray I can find some kind of harmonious, tactful acquiescence between the two sides of myself. Only time will tell.

The moon is situated contentedly on a balcony of shimmering starlight, alertly surveying its kingdom of nocturnal velvet sky with the righteous countenance of a beloved King. I peer up at it and smile. The night is young and my inhibitions are lax, a beloved, beneficial gift from Mr. Jack Daniels. Life is unfolding all around me, clad in bikinis and sundresses, crop tops and short shorts. Right in the thick of such a perfect scene, I am deliriously happy and obscenely serene. This place is new to me, but its novelty is beginning to fade in favor of gradual familiarity. The winds of change have blown away the trappings of old, and while the pain remains, it is ebbing in favor of the embrace of spontaneity. No one will know my heart for quite awhile, and the love I feel will never abate or grow stale. However, if your half of our shared heart is beginning to beat again, then it makes no sense for me to deny my half sweet, invigorating blood. Outlaws for life, no matter what. Now lets live it, and ride the rails wherever they may take us.


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