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Remember your light when it's time to fight

I don't have a story today. Well, I should rephrase that. I always have a story, but I don't have so much time to write it up today. So, I'll just leave you with this photograph of a man walking his dog along the beach. To me, this image represents the peace and tranquility of life. I have no idea what hardships this person is going through at home, but in this moment where it's just him, the setting sun, the sea, the sand, and his dog, there's peace. I think it's important to stop and recognize those moments of peace when they come. Today I read an article about a surge in teenage suicides due to the coronavirus lockdown. The news also reported a rise in domestic violence. Many people are still struggling financially. I have a friend who said he hadn't received any income since March because of the lockdown.

It's not just about the lockdown. Life is full of trials and tribulations. Sometimes the demons that we have to fight seem so large that the battle feels hopeless. I've stared down a few red-eye demons in my time. I was able to smite a few and a few have defeated me. The only reason why I've never completely been lost to the darkness is because I've always been lucky enough to remember the peaceful moments. It's the beautiful times in our lives that make life so magnificent. The voices and faces of the people who love us and the memories of laughter and the good times shared not only make for a beautiful life, but they also give us the power to protect ourselves from the darkness. The power can only work if we remember to remember. We have to remember not just the bad things that have happened to us or the failures that we have had. Those are easy to remember because they stand out so very harshly against the backdrop of our lives. We have to remember the happy moments too.

What are some of the good things that happened to you? Say them out loud to yourself. I'll go first. I remember getting a free saxophone in high school because the guy who sat next to me was unhappy with his. He said he was going to throw it away. I thought it was a waste to throw away a good instrument, so I asked him to give it to me instead. He did. That horn-filled my life with music and many fond memories.

I remember a road trip I took with friends from college. We drove from Cleveland, OH to Rochester NY. On the way, we each told stories of things we wanted to do before we died . When it was my turn to share my bucket list item, I told everyone how I wanted to see the Northern Lights. As I was explaining, I could see a pale green glow in the sky out of the corner of my eye. I had noticed it for a while but assumed that it was lights from the city shining on the haze of the clouds. As we continued to drive, it became apparent that it wasn't city lights at all. It was aurora borealis. We all got out of the car and jumped for joy at the breathtaking sight. It looked like thousands of spirits dancing slowly in the Sky.

I remember every time I I've fallen in love and how fantastic it made me feel. Each person gave me a kind of power to see the world in a new way. They were all my muses. They all made me feel special as if I were the happiest person alive. Although young love almost always ends in disaster, I have not forgotten anyone, and I still love them all, even the ones who were not so kind to me.

I remember going camping for the first time with a bunch of youth from the neighborhood. There was an ex-military guy from the Marines who decided to create a Boy Scout group for our neighborhood. We were all poor and couldn't afford any of the Boy Scout accouterments. I don't think we were ever officially registered as a Boy Scout group. We just called ourselves Boy Scouts and did Boy Scout stuff. It was an absolute joy to go mountain climbing, learn how to make fires, tell stories around the campfire, and cook outside.

I remember working at summer camp as a counselor. My job was to counsel young boys from troubled homes. Even back then, I was always singing songs or making up songs. I had taught my kids a song that I had written. One day, there was a big fight between one of the students and me because I had accidentally said something that offended him. When the other students came to my defense, the kid started choking the closest boy he could grab. The councilors broke up the fight and took the angry kid into the tent to talk to him and calm him down. While we were inside, the boys started singing the song that I had taught them. It made me cry.

I remember bringing my dog Lucky home for the first time. He was so small he could fit in my bag. I put him in there so I could carry him home on the train. When the ticket taker came to check my ticket and saw the dog's head poke out of the bag, she just said, "Oh my God, he's so cute." She smiled and went on about her business. I remember seeing his little face and feeling the softness of his fur. It made me very happy.

I remember taking my son home from the hospital for the first time. He had been born two months premature and was only 1500grams, half the weight of a normal baby. Inside of the incubator, he didn't look human. Instead, he looked more like a captured alien creature. What surprised me the most was that his eyes were a bright icy blue and made him look even less human. Of course, none of that mattered. I went to the hospital every day for two months to spend time with him. The room was hot, uncomfortable, and always made me so sleepy, but I never left his side. The day that he could finally come home was one of the happiest days of my life.

I remember the day I danced at a Tokyo disco called Julianna. I have always been bashful and never the suave type to walk up to women and introduce myself. The girlfriend I had at the time wasn't interested in me anymore. Our relationship was falling apart. My friend Michael had no problem approaching women. He had a beautiful face, which made it was easy for him. He brought women from the crowd like they were sacks of groceries and presented them to me one after the other. That made me feel more uncomfortable, so I went by myself to the dance floor to shuffle my feet like an awkward shoebill. The smoke machine operator was heavy-handed on the smoke. I could barely see in front of me. When the smoke finally cleared, a beautiful woman was standing in front of me. She was wearing a black dress with a low cut back. She had short, curly hair that almost made her look like Betty Boop. Just like that, she asked me to dance, and I was the happiest person in the world.

All of these snapshots of my life serve as parts of the shield I use to inch my way forward when dark forces try to push me back. That's why I love this picture. It seems like a dull moment, but, in truth, it is the precious time of tranquility between the moments of chaos.

Huh, I guess I ended up telling the story after all.


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