And I learned. I learned about warriorship. I learned about bonds that never break. I learned about bravery being a by-product of trying to not get your friends killed. I learned that when a friend dies, something dies inside. I learned that when it’s time to pick up the pieces after battle, a switch turns on and a mantra takes over: “It’s just a thing. Ain’t nothing but a thing.” And I learned about time. What it does, how it works, its absence in the midst of a firefight and its vacuum where nothing comes back out the same, if it ever comes back out at all.
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“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give what I have received; and to share what I have been given.”
My yoga teacher ‘Kala,’ ends every class with this beautiful saying.
In Sanskrit, her name means “fine arts,” in Hindu, it means “God of time.”
One morning, after nearly a year of practicing with her at her makeshift studio at a local YMCA, I realized that her parting words were a gift to us, meant to seed our day with the practice of giving and receiving — the innate beauty of sharing our unique presence, attributes and knowledge with others, and to listen and allows others to share themselves with us – the receipt. Allowing these words to seep in more deeply, it dawned on me that giving and receiving is the same act; just different actions or actors separated only by a thing called ‘time’.
Last month, I received a note from a veteran in North Carolina. He had just finished reading my first novel, Beyond The Wall: The Journey Home. It had been recommended to him by a nurse at his VA hospital.
His note read:
“I read your book, Beyond The Wall. I’m not sure if you will ever know exactly how close you really got. Painfully close. But I’m glad someone did. Thank You.”
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“I’m scared.” Her words tumble out. Their weight seem to outweigh her physical form, and she holds our eye contact with large, searching eyes as she repeats the words again, this time with more emphasis. “I’m really scared.”
I nod my head. I know why she’s scared.
We can’t see depression. And because we can’t see it, we don’t know where the bottom is.
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