Have you ever listened to “Uncle John’s Band” by the Grateful Dead?
The Song was written by Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter. I love the acoustic guitars set up against a folk/bluegrass arrangement. My most favorite song lyric comes from this tune and represents the everyday struggles that we may be going through:
” Well the first days are the hardest days, Don’t you worry any more, ‘Cause when life looks like Easy Street, There is danger at your door”
Life has a way of humbling us; some times we deserve this and other times we may not but the reality is that we all need these types of growth opportunities. Life by its very nature is not meant to be easy. Were meant to struggle, work hard, endeavor to become better versions of ourselves. With all the hardship and woe that permeates our day to day; its easy to forget about the million amount of miracles that are manifested by acts of love, charity and goodness. During our struggles, its often hard for us to witness these many wondrous events but if you spend just a little time looking, I guarantee you will find them. I guess for me, its no longer about the pursuit of happiness, its more about celebrating and acknowledging all those pleasant moments of peace and tranquility that we can so often take for granted.
I found that one of the few perks that comes with strife, hardship and despair is an awkward mental clarity that is shrouded by melancholy. The trick is to sidestep the melancholy and immerse oneself into their own mental awakening. Your brain is a powerful force and reacts to different emotions to formulate a mental response, its important to be in touch with those messages.
I can only speak for myself, but hardship can open my mind to more mental discourse and during those ugly times , one must be thankful for anything that comes their way.
Sometimes one must show thier true inner light. Its strange to contemplate but during the darkest moments of strife is where ones own potential may shine the brightest. I was just pondering on how tragedy may be less about HARDSHIP and more about OPPORTUNITY.
I am currently working in Austin, Texas and woke up on 12Jun2021 to breaking news that 14 people were shot the night prior in downtown Austin. Hearing this news caused me pause and I immediately hoped that those who were injured would be blessed with a speedy recovery. What I did not feel from hearing the news was Surprise and or, Disbelief. The scenario almost seemed like it was just another everyday event; an occurrence that was not pleasant but was bound to happen from time to time. Later that day I felt ashamed at myself for not being more empathetic to the plight of those innocent people that were harmed during the incident. It’s ludicrous that a shooting of this magnitude would register in my mind as being a normal event. I decided to take a walk and really ponder the situation and realized that I genuinely felt for those who were injured and prayed for them and their families during this difficult time. I care for their well-being and feel sorrow for what has befallen them. Empathy is not my issue but becoming desensitized to hearing this type of ugly news does concern me.
There is no way that I should be immune to the shock of hearing news such as this. I figure its a defense mechanism, just another way my mind is trying to protect me from the reality of the world we live in. This does not make me a bad person but it does make me feel a little less connected to the angelic bonds which connects me to the better side of humanity.
As I reflect upon the selfless acts of our military service members who will never return home from wars cruel grip, I often wonder what divine spark created such phenomenal courage and dedication to mission and country. Sadly we will never be able to ask these fallen hero’s what propelled them forward to give that Last Full Measure. I have no real understanding of their sacrifice or commitment to cause, and feel wholeheartedly inadequate to even ponder the matter but still the question lingers in the depths of my mind.
I have had the opportunity to speak with countless living veterans who have accomplished extraordinary feats under dire situations and many have discussed that they did what needed to be done for “The Man Standing Next to Them”. They are referring to that military bond that is created between soldiers, marines, airmen and seaman that is created within a cauldron of fire and is made up of attributes such as trust, honor, commitment, duty, compassion and sacrifice. Its a reoccurring theme that has motivated so many to accomplish so much under overwhelming odds in countless military environments.
To honor our fallen hero’s could we not endeavor to assist and serve those who are less fortunate that are “Standing Right Next to Us”. We all know someone in need that could use a helping hand, a friendly phone call or maybe a warm smile and positive conversation. Maybe it could do us all a little good to honor our Fallen Warrior’s Sacrifice with an act of service of our own.
While working in Tennessee, I stumbled across the grave site of one of the most celebrated explorers in American History who died of mysterious circumstance while traveling to Washington DC in 1809 along a perilous section of trail called the Natchez Trace. Most believe that Meriwether Lewis took his own life while others believe he was murdered.
Meriwether Lewis was beyond an American icon at the time, he was a famous soldier adventurer, scientist, and explorer who helped lead the Corps of Discovery to find a Land Route which would connect the Atlantic based American States with previously uncharted lands leading to the Pacific Ocean often referred to as the “Northwest Passage”. It was the beginning of the Great Manifest Destiny which would consume American Dreams of a vast American Empire that would spread from the mighty Atlantic to the vast Pacific Ocean. The expedition lasted nearly two years and Captain Lewis returned to civilization as a National Hero and Celebrity.
It’s hard to fathom how a celebrated hero of the early 19th Century would be capable of committing suicide, but he suffered from deep bouts of melancholy which was exasperated by alcoholism and financial turmoil. It was widely reported that he attempted to take his own life previously and before he departed St. Louis, he provided guidance to his friends on specific instructions on how to distribute his belongings and property. At the age of 35, Captain Lewis met his premature demise due to multiple gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen. We all know how Americans love a conspiracy theory, but I agree with William Clark the co-leader of the historic expedition who stated, “I fear the weight of his mind has overcome him” when he heard of Meriwether’s death.
I would highly recommend reading Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose which provides a dramatic historical account of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This book does not read like a historical text, its a pleasure to read.
5 Bonus Facts About the Lewis and Clark Expedition:
President Thomas Jefferson granted Leadership of the Corps of Discovery to Captain Meriwether Lewis who then invited William Clark to co-lead the Expedition. This is normally not the command and control structure in a military operation but it worked!
After living in the wild for two years, only one of the members of the expedition died during the perilous journey. Sargent Charles Floyd died near Sioux City, Iowa in August of 1804 most likely due to a ruptured appendix.
Captain Meriwether Lewis was shot in an accidental hunting accident by one of his own men on the return journey from the Pacific Ocean. The buttocks wound forced the co-leader of the expedition to lay on his belly for multiple weeks as the explorers floated down the Missouri River.
Sacajawea was a Native American who served as a guide and interpreter for the Corps of Discovery. She was originally part of Shoshone Indian Tribe but was kidnapped as an adolescent 5 years prior to the beginning of the expedition. During the groups trek across the continent, they ran into the Shoshone Peoples and the Chief of the tribe was Sacajawea’s long lost brother.
William Clark’s dog Seaman accompanied the Expedition and was mentioned several times in the participants journals of their adventure. Seaman was a Newfoundland who loved to swim and hunt. Most accounts indicate that Seaman survived the round trip cross country trek.
Early morning walk at the Parthenon….Originally built in Greece around 432 BC and dedicated to the Goddess Athena who was associated with Wisdom, Handicraft and Warfare. Of course my stroll was not in Greece but in Nashville, TN
Well sometimes riding motorcycles means running off the road and falling off the bike. Kind of embarrassed because there was no reason at all for this to happen. My only thought was “Target Fixation” was the culprit. It was a learning experience and I was not hurt. so all is good to go. Made a little video about it below.