I Am The River

So far this year, I have crossed the Mississippi River 7 times. I love crossing the Mighty Mississippi. I’m not sure why, but ever since I was a kid, it was always a highlight of my travels. Last week, I was able to string four days off in a row and take a road trip to where I grew up. The 8-hour drive wore me out since I had worked all day leading up to getting on the road, but that did not put a damper my enjoyment of crossing the Mississippi River.

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The Mississippi River at Vicksburg, MS.

In general, I enjoy traveling, especially road trips, whether it’s for pleasure or the army reserves sends me somewhere. I’ve been to 10 states this year. I doubt I’ll add anymore before the calendar turns, but I’m open to it if I get the chance. Some of the rivers I’ve crossed in my travels this year, aside from the Mississippi, are the Red River, where I grew up at, the Chattahoochee River, nature’s boundary between Alabama and Georgia, and the James River in Virginia, near historic Civil War sites.

 

 

Left:  The Red River at Bossier City, LA.  Right:  The bridge that took me over the James River near Richmond, VA.

I don’t know the genesis of my fascination with crossing rivers. It probably comes from something that pre-dates my cognizant memory. But as I do some self-reflection of my life, from years ago and from more recent, I think I can relate to the river. It’s strong and powerful, but generally takes the path of least resistance. There is a calm appearance in many places of the larger rivers, but that’s where the currents under the surface are the strongest. And when the river swells from influences beyond its control, it becomes a raging power of destruction and overflows its banks. And there is no telling where the flooding will go or what damage it can do.

I remember a time when I felt strong and powerful. I wouldn’t obsess with failing because I could easily keep flowing with life in whatever direction I was taken. I would usually have an ideal path in my mind, but I would generally go in whatever direction my circumstances took me. That’s where my plan A, plan B, plan C, plan D, and plans E-M would always come in handy. If my ideal path didn’t work, I wouldn’t be completely overwhelmed and could simply drift in my new path.

 

 

Left:  A river I crossed coming back from Missouri a couple years ago.  Right:  I also enjoy driving across the Jubilee Parkway, Mobile, AL.

When I’ve crossed the Mississippi River this year, both at Vicksburg and Baton Rouge, I saw what appeared to be a smooth flowing body of water, almost peaceful. But the undercurrents, especially in Baton Rouge with the big ships coming and going, are tumultuous. The currents can take you away, never to be seen again. I can remember a few times where I appeared calm, but my mind was dealing with the undercurrents of my situation. The important thing is to not swim in the undercurrents of your thoughts, so you don’t get swept away in your own mind. I’ve done that, too. It doesn’t work out very well. I have let myself overflow my banks and been that raging power of destruction in my life that the river can become. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

I am the river. I feel like I have a lot in common with it. Maybe that’s my attraction to crossing over it, we are one in the same. Maybe some unknown part of my psyche hears it speak to me. I wonder if it’s trying to tell me something, maybe the secret to life, or something else meaningful. I don’t know what the river is saying, but I am listening. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out. Until then, thanks for reading. Good day, God bless.

Dave

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Abstract

I fell asleep thinking about you, hoping to see you in my dreams. You didn’t show. But that’s ok, I know you’re busy. I should shave my beard since that’s what derailed the last dream and turned it into a nightmare. Even the smallest ripple can turn into a tsunami that engulfs my slumber when my dreams start to go sideways. And once it starts, there’s no stopping it.

I enjoyed a couple of naps this week. I’ve hired a nap coach so I can get better at it. I hope to turn pro at it one day. I wonder what the pay is for a napper at the top of his game. Could it be classified as a sport and what would the scoring system entail? And would the TV commentators whisper into the microphone, “Oh my gosh! He nailed it! Look at his form.” Regardless, I’m sure everyone who gets a nap is a winner. I think we should all explore this.

I’ve been wondering some things. What do the constellations look like from somewhere else in the galaxy? Or even outside the galaxy? Would Orion’s Belt become Orion’s Suspenders? Or perhaps the Big Dipper looks like a bottle of wine from opposite of where we are. Maybe a giant bottle of chardonnay? And we’ll need a colossal size bottle of booze in less than 4 billion years when the Andromeda Galaxy comes crashing into ours. That’s going to be one hell of a party. I should put a reminder in my phone for it.

Today feels like Friday. But, in fact, it is Saturday. I wrote this on Wednesday. You figure it out. Days of the week mean very little to me anymore.

I used to believe in Santa Claus. I’m trying to believe in myself again. I do believe in Jesus, so I got that going for me. But of those three, the only one I really talk to anymore on a regular basis is Me. You should hear the arguments I have with Me. But I am very happy that no one can see what’s going on inside my head at any given time. If you could, you would either be extremely entertained or terribly horrified. At least that how it works for me, having this front row seat to it.

Sometimes I have memories that I’m not sure are really mine. I don’t know how they got in my head; nonetheless, they are here. But I’m not convinced they belong to me. If you are missing some of your memories, please have your people call my people and we’ll work something out. Otherwise, the ones that go unclaimed will be put on craigslist.

I’ve had green tea in Japan, hot tea in England, chai tea in Iraq. As a southerner, you would think that I drink sweet tea. I don’t much care for it. But I like beer. The chai tea in Iraq was the best. But the grits were horrible. They definitely weren’t southern. And don’t get me started on the so-called red beans and rice they served us in Afghanistan. Not even close. Not. Even. Close.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Law of Diminishing Return is real. And the best way to counter it is to go backwards, then it can only get better. Read the previous two sentences again. It’s not confusing, it’ll come to you sooner or later.

Today’s crazy abstractness was brought to you by the number Twelve and the color known as Purple. I hope you enjoyed something a little different from me this week. I sure enjoyed writing it. Good day, God bless.

Dave

9/11 in Kabul, Afghanistan

My post from 4 years ago while in Kabul, Afghanistan during 9/11. I think about that night often.

Story of My Life

Twelve years ago today America changed. We weren’t looking to change, we didn’t necessarily want to change, but it’s a change we were forced to go through. We will never be the same again. I’ve followed all the posts today on Facebook in my news feed about all the remembrances, the pictures, the support for both the victims of the attack and the Service Members still fighting a war that’s supposed to be winding down.

As 9/11 approached, we double checked ourselves, made sure everything was good, and stayed vigilant. No worries. We’ve been doing this for a long time. But I think what happened today caught everyone off guard. No one saw this coming.

As I came out the door of the building to throw a box in the dumpster I could hear the commotion on the streets outside the walls of our compound. It was after dark. I…

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Hurricanes Everywhere

Over the past 27 years, I have felt the effects of over twenty-five named tropical storms or hurricanes here in the Florida Panhandle. Some of the effects where just the outskirts of the storm, a few were direct hits. I’ve been up to a week without electricity after a storm. I’ve seen boats from harbors dropped two and three blocks inland. And the only major damage my house ever suffered was a stupid little tropical storm that spawned a tornado and dropped a couple trees it. My house is about four miles from the beach.

I have never evacuated for a hurricane. I don’t take them lightly, but I’ve never left. As a matter of fact, I drove through a tropical storm making landfall in 2002, in Alabama to get back home from Mississippi. That’s not as fun as it sounds. LOL. It wasn’t fun at all. I would much rather shelter in place during a storm than be driving in it.

Hurricanes Erin, Opal, and Ivan are the big ones that I have experienced. And as bad as Ivan was on the Florida Panhandle, you should see what it did to Grand Cayman. I saw it firsthand a month or so after on a mission trip. We got pretty lucky here that it weakened before making US landfall. During Opal, I watched a roof from one house fly overhead, crash into the road, break into two smaller pieces and keep moving down the road. I also watched trees snap in the wind. I know it sounds weird, but there’s something exciting about being witness to that kind of natural power.

With all that said, if Hurricane Irma was to head my direction at it’s current strength, I would leave. My undefeated streak of Me vs. Hurricane would come to an end. I have plenty of experience weathering dangerous storms, but I don’t think I would tempt fate with this one. Although, it would be a once in a lifetime experience. I would probably still leave. A couple months ago I posted about Tropical Storm Cindy that made landfall close enough to bring winds, rain, and a couple tornados. I wrote about the hype involved from some of the weather reporters, and how they play things up. Folks, this is not hype. Irma is dangerous.

https://storyofmylife.blog/2017/06/24/tropical-storm-cindy-and-my-crazy-thoughts/

While Houston, Texas and the surrounding areas continue to recover from Hurricane Harvey, lets keep those in South and Central Florida in our thoughts and prayers as Irma makes landfall sometime between Saturday night and Sunday early morning. This is going to be a disaster for the record books. I have messaged with some of my friends down there that aren’t leaving. Some have jobs that require them to stay, and some are just going to ride it out. Whatever the case, I hope they take care of themselves and stay safe. Oh, and to my friend in Arizona I was chatting with the other day, yes, I would still rather ride out a hurricane if any size than take my chances on an unpredictable earthquake. At least we know when a storm is coming, even if the path of the storm fluctuates some.

https://storyofmylife.blog/2016/08/20/the-storm/

Thanks for reading this week. Good day, God bless.

Dave

Harder Than It Looks

I wish I could I figure out what’s going on with me. I wish I could explain how it feels. In the last month, I’ve posted how I was struggling, then how I was doing better, and then how I was struggling but handled it well. This cycle of going in circles with anxiety, depression, PTSD symptoms, and life is really wearing on me. Functioning, at least for me the last few weeks, is much harder than looks.

I am constantly on edge, which is taking a toll on my body. I feel like a giant hand is palming my forehead, applying pressure, wrapping around to the side of my head. My lower neck/upper back is tense all day, every day. I try hard to relax, but that only lasts for a minute or two. My breathing is not getting any better. I find it hard to catch my breath occasionally, even when I’m sitting still. My body hurts. And I think it has to do with how I’m reacting to my mental stress.

My right foot cramps often. I think it’s from my toes constantly being tightly curled under my feet, maybe like someone would do if riding a rollercoaster as it crested and started its speedy descent. Except that my toes are always like that. My sleep is anything but consistent. Even on my medications, sometimes I can’t fall asleep. I’ve had way too many nights lately where I would check the time and it was 2 or 3 in the morning and I was still awake. I’m tired all the time.

My attitude hasn’t been good lately. The way I react to people and situations has been horrible. Especially at work. Well, since I don’t do very much interacting with people outside of work, I guess that’s where it would be the worst. I avoid people as best I can. And when I do interact with them, I feel like I’m faking it. The only exception is when I hang out with my kids.

I feel like I’m spiraling downward. Not spiraling out of control like I’m going to crash, but falling out of the sky none-the-less. I’ve done this enough to know I won’t crash, but I still don’t like it. I don’t like how it feels. I don’t like how I handle situations. I think I’ve slipped into a serious episode of depression. I don’t know when it started, it snuck up on me. I feel like I was doing well not long ago, then all of a sudden, BAM! I’m deep in it. A few weeks ago, I was actually considering looking into in-patient therapy options. That’s how bad it was for me. But who has time for that?

I am NOT suicidal. I am not a threat to myself. I’m probably not a threat to anyone else. I’m just having a really rough time right now. And this is my outlet. I’ve found that in some of my past posts, when I share the real and the raw of what’s going on in my head, I end up feeling better about it in the next week or two. Sometimes getting it all out there like this helps me. Here’s to hoping it helps again. This really is harder than it looks. Thanks for reading this week.

Good day, God bless.

Dave