Sacrifice

Before we get started I thought I share some insight into the sacrifice I myself have given in my life, at the cost of something greater than what I currently had, though sometimes sacrifice involves risk, it gives us two paths,

Which one do we go down? We might ask ourselves.

But that depends on so many variables, our mindset being the biggest one of them all, let alone the stage we are at within life.

With that being said, before we get to my sacrifice, let’s talk about what sacrifice is and look at some examples of what sacrifice looks like.

So one of the definitions of Sacrifice is an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.

Wow!!! So much power, yet so much loss in those words at the cost of sacrifice.

Honestly if you havent realized it yet, sacrifice is all around us, engrained into us and has been by our side since day one till the day we die. No matter what path you end up on, it is something we all share as life on this planet, or in this existence as a whole.

Now that’s not to say that sacrifice isn’t good, but rather a little bit of both, sometimes we sacrifice for the greater good, or we are forced to sacrifice from the touch of pains grasp, as we experiance loss, suffering or even a piece of who we are. But the fact remains it is apart of us, you, me, and those you don’t even know their name, let alone life in itself.

No joke, look at the planet we live on, did existence not make earth sacrifice a portion of itself within the creation of our existence? by throwing a piece of itself into space to give us the beauty of what we call the moon. We’ll that is one theory anyhow, but nevertheless, sacrifice has been with life since the begining, and will forever be with life as long as something is living or existing.

But we see sacrifice in so many forms, we see it within our own experiences, from those who have taken care of us, those who have stood by our side, those who defend our country, or any country for that fact, we see it in giving life, the plants we grow, the nature we walk through, or even the stars we see in the sky, because correct me if I am wrong, but those stars we look up at, some have already burned out, they are no longer alive, yet the glow of its existence still shines in the sky as we look upon it, pondering about the beauty of this life, not realizing that light burned out long ago.

Now let’s take a look into my life, 33 years of experiences, some good, some bad, but all worth it in the long run. Now I say this because I love my life, yet I ponder what could have been, though I try not to dwell on what could have been, I do appreciate what has become my life. I have no regrets, only missed opportunities, and I accept that because the sacrifice would be that of what I have now.

But let’s go to beginning of my sacrifice, somewhere around the age of 4 back in 1989, a time where I was with my biological-parents for but a moment in my memory, a time where my sacrifice as a child in a harmful situation was spared by my grandparents. I say spared because I as a young child up until the age of 10 had many rough experiences, moments that should have broken my innocence and led me down a path of horrible decisions such as my biological-parents had made. But what could have been my sacrifice was in fact my grandparents, they gave a part of them selves for me to live a happy life versus the situations I was consistently exposed too. Situations that involved neglect, sex, drugs, abuse in the physical form and sexual form, kidnapping and the list goes on and on. My life as a child was full of horrible moments, but also moments that saved me from who I could have been, thanks to those who sacrificed for me to have a better life. Thank you Grandpa and Grandma for everything you did for me, may you rest in peace.

But I’m not going to tell you everything yet, you’ll have to wait for my book for all the details.

But, now I hope you see that my sacrifice was spared, but someone else had to sacrifice in return, and sometimes this doesn’t happen, but for me it did, thankfully. Yet many other times in my life I have had to give in order to get, but also at many different stages in my life, with different ambitions, desires, aspirations and mindsets. Because like many we get blinded by money, possessions, stature and so much more, I know I was anyhow.

It’s like the old saying “I wish I knew what I know now, back then.”

I was lost at young age, and even though my grandparents had helped spare my innocence, there was still a darkness that lied dormant inside me from the experiences I had endured. Though it didn’t affect me then, it affected me later, causing me to have difficulty in finding myself let alone understanding who I truly am. A sacrifice I had not realized until much later. But I got stuck down this path of false aspirations, while sacrificing so much along the way only to give it all up in the end, as if it were wasted time and sacrifice. But it wasn’t, these moments hold purpose now, they gave me something at the sacrifice of living a life that wasn’t mine.

Like I said sacrifice is all around us, I sacrificed my freedom for the military, I sacrificed my sanity to go to war for you and all those I love and the way of life I love. I sacrificed for a relationship, by taking on responsibilities of becoming a step parent, in time ofcourse, but nevertheless I gave my previous life up for a life of sacrificing as a parent, and a husband because that is what you do for the ones you love. We even see sacrifice for friends and family, as a brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt and the list goes on and on. We have all see it and lived it, so don’t fight it, don’t hate it, just accept it, because at some point you will have to sacrifice.

I know this seems vague, but all I’m trying to show you is the many ways we sacrifice in life, from a young age to the end of our life. But sacrifice has worth, it has value because whether the sacrifice comes from good experiences or bad, in the end that sacrifice holds meaning, that sacrifice was given for something greater. For instance I would give my life for my Daughter, for my sacrifice holds worth in the fact she could live a full life at the cost of her father’s, if the situation called for that of course. But it is all in our mindset, how we perceive this life, the meaning it holds and the cost it takes to get what you need in this life. When you understand that your sacrifice was for something greater, than can you move from the darkness that sacrifice blinds us with, only to see the beauty of what sacrifice has given us.

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Thousand Yard Stare

“I’d like to order a twenty-ounce Black and White Mocha please.” He said to the Barista.
“Would you like whip cream on that?” she said with enthusiasm, as most baristas always do.
“Yes, please” he said with delight, as if the young lady’s enthusiasm had rubbed off on him in that moment.
“and what’s the name for the order?”
“Joesph”
Joesph grabbed his mocha, and heads directly to the back of the coffee shop, in the corner, by his favorite window. It was perfect, two chairs placed on each side of a round table, one of which had the best view, he could see the whole coffee shop, while being able to stare out the wall size windows that sat in front of the table. Not too loud, nor was there much foot traffic near his perfect table.
Joesph sat down on the far side of the table, nestled in the corner, away from all the noise; then he would put in his ear buds in his ears, and turn on what he would call, get his mind right music. Then he’d take a sip of his Mocha, and glance around the coffee shop, looking at all the diversity that would come through. Parents with their children, rushing to get some coffee, before they would get back to their hectic life, the businessman rushing through for his morning fix of caffeine, the numerous amount of people running late, while miraculously still having time to stop for their morning coffee, all of them, in and out, no time to stop, just go, go, go, as Joesph would just stare at the world moving around him, lost within the music inside his head. This was his routine every Friday, same time, same spot, same everything.
Joesph continued to stare of into the world, as if he were just a fly on the wall, oblivious to the noise around him, almost like he pushed the mute button on the TV remote. But as he stared off into the distance, something he hadn’t seen the Fridays before, came into the shop; it looked like a fog slowly flowing through the entrance, except this fog was dark, black as night for a matter of fact. It absorbed everything it came in contact with, consuming its existence, the people, the furniture, the light itself. But Joesph didn’t react, nor did anyone else, yet he stared at the darkness directly, where as everyone else acted as if the darkness was non-existent. Yet all Joesph could do was stare, as it crept closer and closer, crawling on the ground as if the darkness was reaching for him, until everything went black, and silence would sing its song, as his music faded away from his ears.

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He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t hear, he couldn’t even see, all that existed, was darkness, and silence. But he wasn’t scared, for something familiar seemed to comfort him, almost as if this darkness was a form of solitude, a place to gain clarity.

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Then a tap on his shoulder brought everything back, the light, the people, his music, and his perfect spot, the place he would get his mind right. Joesph looked up at the barista.
“How’s your coffee?” she said as he snapped back to reality.

Deaths Curse

Four months into deployment overseas and the war began to take over, as the missiles flew across the sky, falling in various places on base, the sirens screaming the sound of danger approaching, telling us to get to bunkers. This was just a glimpse of my life as SW2 McDowell, that’s what the patch on my chest says anyways. Heck I still can’t get over being called by my last name for eight years. My days consisted of being driver, and sometimes a gunner in the harsh environment of Afghanistan, moving from one base to another. Sometimes down rigorous roads, up steep hill sides through the mountains of Afghanistan, and through small villages made from clay and straw, with no clear signs of electricity; all the while doing this during the darkness of night and sometimes during the scorching daylight.

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Most weeks involved explosions near the various bases and fobs (forward operating base) we were at, in this time I had seen death, heard death, smelled death, and feared death, wondering if I would ever go home or even make it home. As war starts to consume you, you try to find a way out, well my way out was going to be my M4 rifle; it could have been so easy, sitting there in my room, alone, with no one to interrupt me, a M4 by my side, with eight clips, thirty rounds in each one, of 5.56 rounds; granted I would only need one to take the pain away, to end it all, you could say “taking the easy way out.” At this point in my life, I had no god by my side, no family besides my brothers and sisters of the armed forces, I had no support but myself to make a choice, life or death.
“Now that’s the kicker isn’t it, with us losing 22-veterans a day to suicide” we all see it, we just choose not to believe it, until it becomes our issue.
It’s not that we don’t have support, or someone to call, it’s that the time we have alone, can be our most vulnerable point, it’s as if once left alone, we get locked in a box, with all the tools needed to give up, it becomes a mental battle, do we choose life or death, do we keeping driving on, or do we kill the engine?
As the night falls, the wind blows the smell of dirt, gunpowder, and death all around, and the sirens scream “take cover”, you stop to think, will this ever end? and if so when? Every day is the same here, somedays are different, but for the most part there is a way of life here, and nothing can stop it. It’s as if you’re in the land of death, where the reapers rome, watching and waiting for their next victim of war. At night while you sleep, the darkness embraces you in a blanket of fear, while during the day darkness confronts you around every corner, always keeping you on your toes, never knowing when your time could be.

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In a world unknown, we have the greatest strength a man or woman could ever find physically, but mentally we weaken as every day passes. Death becomes a part of you, whether you see it, hear it, smell it or think it, it’s there. Living with death everywhere, you begin to change, not much, but just enough for it to lay dormant in you until it finds its moment to attack you from the inside out. You don’t know it yet, but in time this darkness will reveal itself to you little by little, until you become someone who you can’t recognize in the mirror, it’s as if there is two of you, one side good and one side bad. This darkness begins to manifest itself as you, within yourself, where you can see yourself doing things you would never do, but you are helpless to stop it.
People, doctors, family and more never understand a veterans disabilities in a way the veteran can from their experiences of war; unless you experience it, you don’t know, some things are physical, such as amputees, or pains and aches, but the mental side of things is what you don’t understand from my perspective, whether it’s my dreams, or lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, anger and so much more, it all stems off our memories, you can’t erase my mind, or my thoughts, my experiences and memories, and this is the problem because whether it’s a year after this trauma or ten years, when you hear a boom, it takes you back; when you see a flash, it takes you back; there are so many triggers out there, that bring back memories, and every day is different; if it’s an off day for you, it can through you into an episode, sometimes small, sometimes big, sometimes it progresses throughout the day, week or even month. It all stems off memories, which makes this battle forever lasting.
What do you imagine when you think of death? Well what I imagined was what I’d already seen, which is friends and family dying from old age, disease, cancer and such, or the norm you could say, but the most horrific death I’ve seen firsthand was when I was at war.
Three days in and I saw the aftermath of a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,) while in a IED (improvised explosive device) training class, it was as if it were yesterday, standing there seeing two locals outside the wire walking to this spot in front of us about a hundred yards out, not quite knowing what they were doing until they stopped. Then one of them laid a flannel shirt down on the ground, the two men pick up the torso of the man who bombed the base in the VBIED; there were no arms, no legs, and no head on this torso, they picked up this body, laid it in a shirt, wrapped it up, then through it over their back like it was Santa with a bag of presents, then walked away as if nothing happened. If that doesn’t tell you this isn’t a game, I don’t know what does, because this image that’s burnt into my brain, will forever trap apart of myself here in the dessert.
The second time was at night, I was heading to the chow hall like I did every night, except I pushed it off this night, due to getting caught up in a conversation with my roommate, thankfully, because originally, I had planned on leaving thirty mins early, and the walk alone took ten minutes. But on my way to go eat, I heard this sound which I can only describe as a weapon of some sort having a miss fire, then a boom with the sound of something hitting metal. At this point I was nearly there. The missile that fell from the sky had hit the roof of the chow hall, the roof deflected most of it, but what had made it through, killed a 22-year-old EOD kid in the army, face down in his dinner, and a piece of scrap metal hit one of our senior chiefs in his neck, causing him to be life flighted to Germany. Everyone else either took cover, or ran for cover, until it was safe to help, go seek medical attention and get back to our way of things during war.
This one affected me because if I would have left when I wanted to, I might not be here today, and that’s not me procrastinating, that’s the truth, I would have been somewhere in that galley eating, at the mercy of flying metal with the force of death behind it. Not to mention there were plenty of close calls, from the IED explosions either on the road we were driving, bomb scares, and explosions right outside of where we were located, as well as driving through mind fields due to a careless driver, and one of our vehicles being hit by an anti-personnel mine which blew off the front of a tactical vehicle, injuring four of our people. Hell, our battalion even has its very own Forrest Gump, which will forever live with him. I still remember that day, Doc up on the wall, patrolling the perimeter, then wouldn’t you know it, we started receiving fire. Well guess what, Doc got shot in his ass. It wasn’t funny at the moment, but when everything was all said and done, we sure had one hell of a laugh. But this was just some of many incidences, it was the way of life at war.
Then lastly the death in our minds, from the nightmares of everything we have seen and experienced firsthand, the fear of dying and never coming home, how we could possible die in this country surrounded by death. Which all of this eventually manifest into death personally on the home front. An example would be, let’s say, driving. I always have these thoughts of dying in a car crash, sometimes by my own dewing, but other times by other drivers, then what I would do in my final moments of life, who would I call first, would I walk my bloody mangled body home to say my final words to my loving wife, my beautiful daughter, and my smart boy, what would I say? You see the thing is death lurks around the corner waiting for our moment; sometimes I feel as though I have a glimpse or an idea of how it will happen, but when? How bad? We fear what we can’t control, the mind being one of those things. Death is a very vivid picture in a veteran’s mind, whether it be the past, present or future. Many of us have seen death first hand, our lives revolved around the ultimate sacrifice for your country; not that we want to die, but that we would gladly lay our lives down for the people and country we love, so they may live a life of freedom.
“Isn’t that what we do for love? We sacrifice.”

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Life is like a math equation, it can be hard untill you figure it out. 

First off in math there is all sorts of equations just like life where there are many problems good and bad. So I’m not saying I have every awnser to a problem/equation, but I believe I have solved one of the main problems/equations to life which consist of a simple life.

I don’t know about you but a simple life is a dream these days, besides the fact that how many generations have worked their fingers to the bones to just get a taste of the simple life before their dieing days. And maybe simple means many things to different people, but simple to me means, little to no bills, the freedom to do what I please when I please with my friends and family, and just living the one life I have on this planet to the fullest.

Now like I said this doesn’t apply to everyone’s situation, for instance if you love a big city, and expensive things, you might not want my advice because it doesn’t apply to you. But if you love the outdoors like hiking, fishing, hunting and camping, which is like the biggest attraction to Oregon, then this might be for you. But again don’t misconstrue my words, outdoors can be a pretty broad spectrum of things, like the beach, well this isn’t for beach lovers, mainly because the beach is expensive.

Now that we have narrowed down a general location to my kind of simple life we can start getting to the simplicity of life if done right. Let’s start with bills, let’s face it we all hate bills there is no denying that, but this can be the easiest part of the equation/problem with some variables ofcourse like your choices you have already made in your life, like a new car for instance you can’t really stop paying your $200 to $500 car payment now can you. But break it down, look at all your bills, what bills are needs and what bills are wants, you know what I’m talking about, do you really need a $200 phone bill when you could go prepaid, since no one really talks on their phones anymore these days, especially when you can pay $10 a month for a home phone, you might say it’s not convenient or its lame but it saves you $190 a month. I’m not going to give and example of every bill it’s common sense, but think about it next time you look at your bills, you could save a lot of money. One last thing on bills and this applies to the bills that are needs, these can be adjusted aswell if not to $0 a month or even get you paid versus you paying for a utility bill. But you need to have a house of your own which is the only catch, but when that day comes and it will, think about what I’m saying. Buy a property with a Well, no more water bill, get Solar Panels, no more electric bill or you could even get paid by PGE for producing more then enough electricity to your property, take your own trash to the dump, or burn it, you can even throw your scraps in he compost bin, burn wood instead of gas, make a garden and go hunting and fishing, that alone if your any good can eliminate most of your food bill if not all of it and lastly but most unlikely to happen, get a property with a warms springs, to heat your water, now if only we could collect rain water we would be set. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

One big thing is a house, it’s scary I no but don’t be greedy, do you really need 8 bedrooms, probably not, but go simple. Buy a lot of land, and get a manufactured home, they are just as nice as a built house. Hey or you could build your house, but if you are smart about it, you could have at least a acre lot, 4 bedroom house with money in the bank for less the  $100000 versus $300000, but it’s your choice, not mine.

Well let’s see we’ve covered bills, and location, let’s move on to work, which can be the hardest one of all depending on what you want in life. Well this equation/problem is all over the board, some people enjoy what they do, and if you are the lucky one who has his dream job then I guess we are done here, but if you hate your job, your boss, and your just outright unhappy, then fix it. Did you know that not only in this era but in oregon is the best time to be who you are and make money doing it.Yes I’m talking about being an entrepreneur, it can be hard, but I’m sure there is some thing you have to offer this world whether it’s arts and crafts or singing, maybe even being a guide to the hunter, the sky is the limit and you can work in the luxury of your own home, look at all he stay at home mom and dads, all it takes is time and little money, so quit buying that coffee and save your money to follow your dream. Not to mention there are so many options for help to start your dream if you just make the effort to find them. You might not be rich at the end of the day, but if your bills are tooken care of, and you free to do what you want, then whats the harm.

Well at this point I’d say we are about done except for three things, credit to help get you the things you desire like to house for instance, be smart check your credit, don’t use more then 30 percent of your credit card limit, so you can build that credit, and please make you payments on time, credit can destroy you unless you don’t need to buy anything. Saving your money so you can pay off that house before your 80, which kind of defeats the purpose of his whole blog if your bills are $2000 plus a month till your 60 if your lucky, plus your gonna need something to live off after a certain age, a nest egg basically. Learn the stock markets, turn your money into and investment. And lastly the ones that served our country even disabled people, you have benifits that can achieve these goals a lot faster then the average joe.

Well I hope this helps some of you if not all of you, and if you liked my blog, let me know. Best of luck in your life no matter what path you follow.