On the Brink of World War

In audio, paperback and Kindle

These are scary times: COVID, (now pushing close to a million deaths in the U.S.) and the war in the Ukraine. The stock market is taking a hit, gas prices are going up on top of inflation. The middle class is suffering in America as the cost of living increases. Here in Jacksonville, housing prices have gone through the roof, with many families being priced out of their homes. What’s happening on the other side of the world makes my own complaints seem trifling.

The war in the Ukraine presents a dire threat far beyond pain at the pump. Women and children are already dying under Russian missile barrages, as Putin seems to be widening the scope of his attack.

The Ukrainian defense has been nothing short of astonishing. Citizens stealing enemy armor, drones taking out supply depots, soldiers willing to tell a warship to “go fuck themselves” in the face of certain death. It’s amazing and heroic to watch from the warm safety of my desk.

The sanctions applied to Russia are severe enough to enrage a dictator used to having his own way in all things. I wonder if Putin has not become slightly insane in the way of dictators past, who are unable to believe in their fallibility. Surrounded by yes-men who fear for their lives should they disagree, leaders like Putin lose sight of reality.

Like a mental patient who is confronted with a reality they are unable to cope with, he may act out. Unfortunately, he’s got nuclear weapons, and at the moment his deterrent is on high alert.

It’s my fear that Putin, under pressure from his oligarch buddies, and having his manhood checked by badass Ukrainian fighters, resorts to the use of nuclear weapons, if for no other reason than to show what a big tough guy he is. He’d argue that it was for tactical purposes. But really, he’d be the short fat guy in the huge truck, “overcompensating” with a big bomb.

I hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, NATO is going to be faced with some very hard choices, none of which are good. I grew up recalling the fear of a global nuclear war and what it might look like.

So… if you haven’t read it yet, please read my trilogy!

Get Vaxxed! I wish I had before I came down with COVID.

My symptoms hit like a ton of bricks a little under two weeks ago. I’d finished with a Zoom call for work, made lunch for my youngest child, and we watched the last episode of Loki. That’s when the fever started.

Next came chills.

Then full on delirium and fatigue so deep and abiding that I could not move to even grab the remote control. I got tested for COVID the next day.

My chest tightened, the dreaded dry cough settled in, and the fever and fatigue continued for roughly 7 days. In the middle of the night on night 7, I will admit that I was fairly worried. Coughing up blood, having a hard time breathing, I considered going into the ER.

The fear factor is one of the worst things about COVID. You’re sitting there wheezing, considering the real possibility that you might wind up on a vent. Hotel Covid— you can check in any time you like, but you can’t never leave. Had I not known that I had COVID, I wouldn’t have been so afraid, but that dark cloud hangs thick, especially at 3 AM. I forced myself to calm down, slow my breathing, and think happy thoughts.

Day 8 I started to feel a little better, and improved each day. Upon writing, it’s day 12 since my symptoms began, and I feel normal. And lucky. No cough, no fever for four days. I’m not contagious now.

I was reluctant to run right out and get the vaccine after two healthy people I know were hospitalized due to complications. I kept putting it off because I didn’t want to be down for a day or two and miss work. Obviously, that didn’t go so well.

The point of getting the vaccine is to give your body the roadmap to fight this thing. You can still get and spread the disease, but your chances of winding up in the hospital are extremely low if you’re vaxxed.

If you’re on the fence- get it done. It beats that sense of being a fool combined with terror at 3 in the morning, the thought that you may leave your children defenseless in this world.

The American Divorce— The Country Needs A Therapist!

All we seem to do is fight! The insults, the hate, the verbal assaults! Grrr!

As of this writing, the votes are still being counted in the 2020 Presidential election, and the lawsuits are starting. The internet is rife with mean-spirited memes and declarations of woe from both sides. Joe Biden needs only 6 more Electoral Collage votes to clinch the election, and people are going insane.

Both sides are in a state of shock. Liberals are appalled that Donald Trump got 3 million more votes this year than he did in 2016, after 233,000 COVID deaths and a nonstop string of tone-deaf gaffes and blunders too long to go into. Conservatives believe that the country is taking a turn to communism, and that Biden and the dreadful Kamala Harris will be coming for their guns and bibles and first-born children.

There is no middle ground.

Both sides view your choice of candidate as a kind of litmus test. Most of my liberal friends (and I am liberal, duh!) have been purging their social media of Trump supporters. They say things like “if you’re a Trump supporter, unfriend me now.” Many liberals believe that if someone voted for Trump, the only possible explanation is that they are some combination of racist, ignorant or cruel.

A political choice becomes a moral test. Friendships and families are ripped apart because of it. How are people okay with this?

Trump supporters view liberals as the enemy of democracy and capitalism. They are fearful that a Biden presidency means stripping away civil liberty, increased taxes. They view liberals as unpatriotic, Godless, arrogant, and immoral.

Surging Tribalism

The entire “us versus them” mentality that has gripped the nation is inherently unhealthy. If it continues to this degree, there’s no way it can end well for the country.

Biden ran a campaign based around unifying the country, and ran only 10% attack ads. Trump was all about attacking, sowing doubt about the electoral process from the time he got elected in 2016, spreading conspiracy theories that his followers devoured like ice cream on a hot summer day.

The fact is, even if Biden is sworn in, he faces an uphill battle, likely an impossible one, to unify the country. His pleas for unity fell upon deaf ears for half of the country.

COVID-19 could have been a unifying event for the country; we have lost more Americans to the virus than we did in the first two World Wars. Usually wars have a way of unifying the country. Not so with COVID, which has been so politicized that it only served to divide us further even as it continues to kill and spread.

Irreconcilable Differences

Precinct Map

We are split as a country along various lines. The rural versus urban divide is likely the most obvious. The underlying racial, economic, and religious divides are obvious. Regionally, we have enormous divisions between the north, south, Midwest, and west coast.

A bit of historic perspective

We have always been divided, despite our name. Leading up to the Revolution, 1/3 of the population supported the Crown. Following the Revolution, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists fought bitterly for the soul of the country at its inception. Before the Civil War, the north and south were economic rivals and ultimately went to war at a cost of over 600,000 American lives.

The Industrial Revolution brought a seismic shift from an agrarian economy to huge growth in our cities. The surge of immigrants and refugees helped to boost our economy and the idea that we were a “melting pot” took root. The Great Depression and World War Two unified us for a brief time, until the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War clarified our differences yet again. But the differences were always there.

Guns and Lawyers

I predict that the United States will cease to exist as we know it within fifty years. It will disassemble into four to six separate nations, mostly without bloodshed, in the way of a somewhat amicable divorce. Everybody is going to hurt, but if we cannot fix what’s broken, then it will be for the best.

Intolerance seems to be the norm, and a lack of communication, understanding, and forgiveness is on the rise. All we do these days is scream at each other, shifting the blame, and no one is happy.

I hope I’m wrong.

New Release!

Rose Colored Glasses is now available in ebook and paperback.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0888T4RWP/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

For my fans, I’m sorry this took so long. I know some of you have sent me messages asking why I haven’t released any books in a few years.

There were two big factors. First, this was a very difficult book to write. It’s ultimately a love story as much as it is a thriller, and it centers around a failed marriage… something I’ve had intimate experience with. I struggled with how the book needed to end, writing many different versions of the last third of the book. I’m satisfied that it ended the way it needed to.

Second, I’ve been very busy with my day job as a solar consultant and my family. It’s been difficult for me to find the right balance of work, writing, and family. It’s a personality flaw— I tend to focus on only one of those things at a time, and when I do, other things suffer.

About the book—

My previous novels have been in some measure military thrillers, while this one revolves around only a few characters. This one also has some pretty graphic sex scenes and profanity, whereas the Wrath trilogy was squeaky clean.

I poured myself into this one, and there are certain things that cut close to the bone. I wrote large chunks of it while my wife and I were separated, so while the details of the book are vastly different from reality, there is a brutal honesty in the emotion.

What’s next?

I’m currently about 1/3 of the way through my next novel, the first in a planned trilogy. This one is more akin to the Wrath series. It will follow a family through three generations dealing with global wars sparked by climate change and pandemic, and in the final book, an American Revolution against what has become an autocratic, new-fascist government.

Thank you for reading!

I hope you’ll buy my book, leave me a review, and let me know what you think. I truly enjoy interacting with readers and discussing my books.

Yes, these are scary times… let’s be kind

The Coronavirus is frightening, lethal, and spreading, but that doesn’t mean that we should curl into a collective fetal ball and wait to die. We must continue living, questioning, loving, thinking, and solving problems.

Hysteria never solves anything. Let’s be rational, then. Let’s listen to the scientists and immunologists. Let us also listen to history and our moral compass. Most people are kind and good, I still believe, although the wolves and morons have always, and will continue, to make life harder than it should be for everyone else.

There has always been a battle between liberty and safety because morons and outliers do stupid things that endanger other people or themselves. Our Constitutional rights are inherently limited because of this. My right to free speech does not include the right to scream “Fire!” In the middle of a crowded theater, and your freedom to swing your fist ends at my face.

This is why we have laws. Our country was built on the ideas of European philosophers like John Locke, who argued that a social contract exists between the government and the people, and that the government exists to protect the people from the state of anarchy that would exit without it. The government exists to serve the people.

This isn’t team sports. The country seems to be following the same pattern with respect to Corona Virus that it has since Barack Obama became president, with Republicans saying one thing and Democrats another and the American people getting smashed in the middle, whether they know it or not. It’s some kind of bizarre knee-jerk reaction in which people instantly disagree without weighing the facts, on both sides. We are needlessly polarized. This isn’t Florida versus Georgia, a vicarious game for bragging rights. With a pandemic, you’d think we’d all be on the same team. Obviously, we don’t think so, and that’s a big damn problem.

The virus doesn’t care who you vote for and will kill with egalitarian efficiency. Rich, poor, black, white, young or old, people are dying. It’s not us versus them… it’s us versus a virus. We have to beat it together.

I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and the beaches opened up with limited hours and social distancing rules in place. Like team sports, the liberals lost their minds, and the conservatives cheered. Here’s the thing. If people can’t do the right thing, then what is the solution? What’s the long term outlook?

I’m going to the beach tomorrow, as long as it makes sense and there aren’t knots of people every where. I’ve been locked in with my family for four weeks, and as long as we keep our distance from others at the beach, this should not be an issue. I hope that police will give out citations for people violating the rules and enforce the law. If it’s crowded, I will sadly walk away.

For liberals… how much central authority do you really want the government to have? How do you subdue the outliers and morons without subverting your own values, particularly with Donald Trump in power? Is this not the path to despotism? How long can the entire economy be shut down? Doesn’t it make sense to discuss how to reopen in a responsible fashion?

For Conservatives… if “Big Government”is what you despise, if state’s rights are important, how can you stand aside and justify the president calling for the “liberation” of states? Do you really believe holding rallies, waving confederate flags and carrying rifles during a pandemic is a responsible way to get your point across?

Back to the social contract… most people don’t care about those ideas. They want a fair, just, government and the ability to live their lives. I believe that seat-belt laws make sense and clearly save lives. Corporations should not be allowed to poison drinking water, police officers should not get away with killing people of color, and presidents should not be allowed to use the toilet paper shortage as an excuse to wipe their ass with the constitution.

I also think people are incredibly stupid and selfish, and that it’s not the governments job to save them from themselves. We as a nation have a duty at this point to use good judgement and common sense.

It’s not the end of the word because the the planet will go on, people will live and die and love without us and the tides will come and go and seasons will change.This virus isn’t an extinction level event, awful as it is.

We all die, so why not take a minute to accept that fact and make our lives mean something by doing a good thing for somebody else. Realize that we are all connected, and take comfort in that truth. Death comes for us all; what we do with our life is up to us. I’m all for continuing to live, obviously! I’m going to social distance and pay attention.

Living in lockdown is bad enough, without the constant drum beat of panic porn on the internet, the rage spilling onto the streets, and the absurdly divided way we seem to be viewing and confronting this virus. Let’s be kind.

Sneak Peek… Rose Colored Glasses

I finally finished Rose Colored Glasses, a thriller which will be published very soon (cover art and announcement forthcoming!) My Editor has finished with the final edits, and the thing has been rewritten more than once, so I guess it’s time to set it free in the world.

This novel is something of a departure for me, as this is a love story at its heart. It took me over three years to write, and delves deep into the pain that comes with divorce and the unintended consequences of terrible choices.

When Noel leaves her husband, Arthur, for an old lover, none of them are prepared for the insanity that follows; Noel and Arthur find themselves forced to fight for their lives, and make decisions which blur the lines of good and evil to protect themselves.

In the scene I’ve selected below, Arthur is talking to Rose, an elderly woman who lives down the street from him. She’s a central character to the book, and rather loosely based on a good friend.

“Here’s the thing,” Rose said. “The world is stuffed with people who look back on their lives with regret, wishing they’d had a second chance, folks who long for yesterdays that were never as good as they recall. They die longing for that first love, the one that got away, or the dream they didn’t have the nerve to chase. We never get a ‘do-over,’ but some of us are fortunate enough to get a fresh start. You are blessed, no matter how it turns out.”

“I think so too.”

“Plenty of love stories don’t follow a straight line. I reckon the two of you have something special, and you both just needed some time to figure it out. As long as you’ve done that, you might get your happy ending after all.”

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” Arthur said. “There are still some pretty serious obstacles, but they seem small compared to what was in the way before. What was impossible is now doable.”

“Ignore the whispers,” Rose said, closing her eyes and breaking into a coughing fit. “Sorry. I’ve switched to edibles. I think my lungs have had it with me. Anyway, you’re going to get some blowback because that’s how people are.”

“Blowback? Whispers?”

“You know exactly what I mean. Your friends will question your sanity. Your family will shake their heads. You will have whispers of doubt yourself, the quiet, incessant voices in your head which say you are a fool to believe in something good and true. Those whispers will destroy you, if you let them. They accuse you, betray you…relentlessly.”

Rose stopped speaking, her voice trailing off as though she was lost in her own memories, assailed, perhaps, by whispers only she could hear.

Arthur waited her out.

“The real fool is the one who refuses to leap off the cliff into the cold, clear, blue water. The one who never dares to climb the frozen mountain, the one who never opens her heart again to love like we were meant to love and be loved. Fear masquerades itself as your sensible friend and tells you that you should wait, you must abstain, you should settle, and be calm and temperate in all things. Fear hates reckless wind in your face and taking chances, despises everything exceptional, and drags us down into the cruddy, muddy mundane. Fear kills more people than cancer because it convinces you you’re living when you’re dying.”

“Preach the Gospel of Rose.”

“I’ll tell you this,” Rose continued, “I’ve done some living. I have regrets, and frankly, if anyone who gets to be my age says they don’t have any, they’re either idiots or liars. I don’t abide either.”

“You know I’ve got more than a few regrets.”

“You’re supposed to. But don’t let regrets turn to fear. It will wreck you. Regret and fear aren’t the same thing. Fear is a killer. Regret, well, that’s learning. I know that fear has its place in biology. Hot fires and stoves and whatnot. Hell, that’s common sense, and not at all what I’m talking about. There’s a big damn difference. The risk is often worth the reward, but fear demands that we shrink away, when it is calling the shots, denying us what might have been. Fear is good when it tells you not to cross the street in front of a bus, but that’s about all it’s good for.”

“I’ve tried to live fearlessly.”

Rose snorted.

“What? I’ve always taken risks. I’m doing it now.”

“You’d think I was talking to a brick wall. Taking risks when you’re eaten up by fear doesn’t make you fearless. You’re right that you are willing to take chances. But you go into it with rose colored glasses. You don’t see the world the way it is. Maybe because it makes the fear easier to bear. Doesn’t make you fearless.”

“Rose colored glasses? That doesn’t sound like me at all. Hell, they called me ‘Doctor Doom’ in Nashville.

Where Are Our Heroes?

Every generation has its heroes, and while they have looked different, they share one essential trait- they are, by definition, heroic. At the moment, our pop-culture is dominated by super-heroes. Captain America and Ironman along with the MCU have captured our collective imagination. Back in the 80’s it was ripped men like Arnold and Stallone. Before that it was John Wayne. Those fictional heroes were all willing to sacrifice themselves to protect others, or to protect the greater good.

What about real heroes?

Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier in World War Two, was wounded multiple times throughout the war, putting himself under direct fire to save his men. He received the Medal of Honor for mounting a burning tank-destroyer and laying down .50 caliber machine-gun fire on advancing German troops and tanks for over an hour. He was wounded and only ceased when he ran out of ammunition. He killed over fifty attackers in that one assault. If Stallone acted the scene in a movie, it would be hard to believe.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the hero of the civil rights movement, risking his life to march and speak out against codified racism and inequality, and he was ultimately killed for his stand.

John McCain, former prisoner of war, Presidential candidate, and Senator, became a hero in my own eyes, when he famously cast the deciding vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act. He bucked his own party, and chose to vote with his conscience for the good of the nation. He died shortly thereafter of brain cancer.

We desperately need real heroes now.

The United States of America is in the midst of a crisis. The executive branch is grossly over extending its power, largely unchecked by congress. From the war on science, the media, and the truth to the ongoing denial of Russian interference in our elections, the Trump administration is proving to be a real threat to our democracy.

Congress must begin the impeachment process, regardless of the political calculus, because it is Congress’s duty to be a check upon the executive branch. There are certain threats which transcend politics, and an administration which displays disregard for the rule of law is one.

It seems that Speaker Pelosi is intent upon running out the clock because she fears, understandably, that the Senate will not convict, no matter what. Where are the heroes and patriots in the Senate?

It’s time for our elected leaders to actually lead. There must be consequences for a President who obstructs justice and colludes with foreign powers to steal an election. History will remember.

That 30%

A few weeks ago my wife and I watched a clip of a typical Trump rally on CNN, one in which he was surrounded by shiny-faced white people wearing red hats shouting “lock her up!” The brief clip included the kind of idiotic statements we’ve come to expect from our current commander-in-chief.

Kelli groaned and said for the thousandth time a thing we’ve both shouted over the last few years: “What are these people thinking? Why do they support Trump? How do they do life? The country is doomed.” Trump is the antithesis of progress, the embodiment of provincial foolishness, and enabler of misogyny and racism. Is this what we have become as a nation, that Trump actually represents us?

No. I’ve got a theory that is starting to make me feel better about our country. It’s about the 30% statistic that pops up over and over again for those who would follow Trump straight back to the hell he seems to have spawned from, that 30% of the population who would indeed continue to support him if he shot someone in the face on Park Avenue.

The 30% have always been with us, and they cannot thwart human progress, despite their best efforts. This knowledge helps me to sleep better at night.

Fire, Bad

Around 125,000 years ago, a hunter came upon a fire in a plain where a deer was cooked and burned. Being hungry, he decided to try the meat and was amazed to discover that it was better than either raw meat or roots. He got the idea to bring back some of that fire to their cave. The hunter arrived full of good cheer and optimism.

“I have brought fire,” he said proudly. “Food will taste better. We can use this to harden our spears, which will make us hunt better. And we can use the fire to ward off the lions, tigers, and bears, for they are stupid animals and fear fire.”

Many of the clan welcomed this new tool, perceiving the benefits. About a third of them, though, were angry. “It is forbidden,” they shouted. “Fire is dangerous.”

Eventually, the doubters died off, and the use of fire allowed early humans to take a giant leap forward. But there was a great gnashing of teeth at first.

From the Wheel to the Internet

A certain percentage of people (we know the number) is inherently opposed to forward thinking. The first guy to invent the wheel was scoffed at because somebody’s toe got crushed. Railroads were feared, cars were dangerous and terrible, coffee (yes, coffee) was deemed bad, refrigeration was foolish, and the internet was silly.

Politically Backwards

John Adams, in 1815 estimated that one third of the country had opposed the American Revolution, one third supported it, and one third were undecided.

Newsweek reported in 2017 that 32% of Californians supported seceding from the union.

A 2014 Reuters poll found that 28% of all Americans with incomes of $25k or less supported their state leaving the United States. Unsurprisingly, a majority of those identified with the Tea Party. There’s a trend.

Fear is the mind-killer

The insidious root of all of this backward thinking is fear. It’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of a loss of a way of life, and the fear of loss of identity. Some people want to keep the status quo, even if change will benefit them, and they tell the fairy-tale of a golden age when things were best and brightest to themselves over and over again until the lie is their personal truth. They want Mayberry.

Picture Governor George Wallace in his famous “stand at the schoolhouse door,” blocking the way for two African American students to enter the University of Alabama in 1962, proclaiming “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” There is a straight line from that thought process to putting immigrants in cages, building a ridiculous wall and calling white KKK supporters “good people.”

The die-hard Trump supporter is afraid of almost everything, it seems. He is terrified of brown people, and of losing the automatic weapons with extended magazines that he owns to protect himself from said brown people. He is afraid of gay people because clearly there is an army of LGTBQ folks with an agenda to turn everyone gay, thereby eradicating the human race. He is appalled by women in positions of strength and power, for his very manhood is threatened by them. He is afraid that his God will be taken from him, although if God is God that’s impossible on every level. He is afraid of the government, yet shows up at rallies to support a king.

The galvanized Trumpite is afraid of millennials because they are young and passionate about things he does not understand. Things like universal health care, higher minimum-wages, and of course, climate change.

Interestingly, the one thing he should be worried about, he scoffs at.

The 30% will remain, for they are a part of humanity and always have been, but we have proven throughout our history that their voices are silenced by time and progress, and their fear-driven protests will be forgotten as the years go on.

When universal healthcare is taken for granted in America, when we are truly judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin, when nobody gives a second thought about whom we choose to love, and when we are running on renewable energy, the ignorance of the past will be scoffed at.

They’ll find something else to fear then, but by that time, my children and grandchildren will be the ones howling into the void that fire is good.

The Stories We Carry

The older I get (I turn fifty this week, ugh!) the more I recognize the way we tell ourselves stories about our lives in order to explain, justify, and come to grips with our place in the world. Everyone does this to some degree, some more than others. When I’m writing about relationships in novels, I like to create characters in conflict who have differing views of a shared past.

As a writer, I like telling stories. But what if the story I’ve been telling myself is not true? What if, in fact, it is dangerous because of how far off the mark it is? I find myself questioning my own version of reality. When I recall the past, the further back I look, the more colored the memories become, distorted by the retelling of events in my own head, until the actual thing I remember may not even resemble what truly occurred. I can ask three different people who were there, and wind up with three widely differing accounts. It’s like that game where you have a circle of people, and the first person tells a short story to the next person, and they whisper the story around the circle until it comes back around to the first one. It’s never the same story.

Time does the same thing, along with our individual motives, our personality, and the way that we have allowed our past to shape our present. The reason this can be destructive is clear: our future can be altered, destroyed, by the lies we tell ourselves about our past.

Why do we persist? Because often we don’t know we are doing it, I suppose. And when there is a whisper in the back of our minds that we are wrong, it’s easier to stick to the lies we have always known. God forbid we confront something harmful we have done and take responsibility for it. It’s much easier to blame others, to rage at circumstance, and wrap ourselves in anger and resentment at those around us.

When someone else hurts me by doing this, I can see it clearly. I can recall what the truth was and point to facts and memories which contradict the other person’s narrative. I can stand and be strong and attempt to take the battery acid and vitriol sprayed on me for a while. Yet, I also question my own narrative, and wonder where the truth lies, for it surely must not be the one I recall so vividly…

With memories and emotion, there is no single truth. One person’s truth may contradict my own, yet perhaps neither of us is truly wrong.

Divorce Sucks

Endings and Beginnings

The best stories end with a new beginning. There is a resolution of conflict and the promise of tomorrow. Hollywood love stories often end with crowds cheering, whether it’s on a crowded street, at a church, or a dining room. We’ve seen it over and over again, but the typical romantic comedy doesn’t delve into what happens after that triumphant scene, because that’s when reality kicks in. Nobody wants to watch the doldrums, the long gray of disappointment and work and cold silence and that crushing feeling of loneliness when you share a home with someone who no longer loves you. When couples divorce, it is both an ending and a beginning, and it’s terrible and wonderful, even at its best.

People use the phrase “going through a divorce” because it’s like entering a dark tunnel where the walls crush in and the light on the other side appears eternally distant. But there is that hope of getting “through” to the other side, emerging into a new valley of hope where the sun is warm on your face and the air tastes like hope and the pain and regrets remain in the past where they belong. When you are still going through the darkness, it can feel like it’s forever. It’s not. That’s what my friends keep telling me, and I believe they’re right.

The end of us is the beginning of me

After more than a decade of waking up next to the same woman and kissing her good-morning and raising children, and laughing, fighting, crying, dreaming, destroying, and sharing everything important, I face the task of defining myself apart from her. It’s excruciating, for it is the unraveling of my life, the annihilation of a future I believed in. It is the death of the man I am and the birth of someone new.

I must learn to define myself apart from her, for I was always more than her husband, yet after all these years, it is difficult to recall what I was, because I changed to accommodate her wants and needs and I wanted to see her smile. I wanted to make her happy, I worked really hard to do it, but in the end I wasn’t enough.  I didn’t make her happy in the end, and she let me know it. It doesn’t matter anymore, and now I’ve got to see the truth of it, embrace the inherent freedom.

I haven’t been spear-fishing in years. I’m making plans now, with true friends I haven’t been friends to since she and I got together. “It takes a friend to be a friend,” is one of my mantras, and only shared history and the memory of the man I used to be keeps the door open now, and I intend to dive in. The best advice I’ve heard so far on how to deal with divorce is “do the stuff you love to do.” I’m going to reconnect with old friends, repair relationships with family, and become the best version of myself that I can possibly be.

I’m not ready to jump into a long-term relationship, and I know it. I still love scent of the ocean at dawn and the sun going down on the beach, long kisses beside the juke-box, the taste of salt on a women’s neck, and that whisper of hope in my ear.

Phoenix

From destruction comes rebirth. The fire burns along the mountain slopes of Yellowstone, and the forest emerges better and stronger and more vibrant. The undergrowth burns away, the stout trees remain, and the canopy emerges again.

Character and strength burst forth in the wake of destruction, and the things that try to kill us make us more resilient, even though it doesn’t feel that way when we are crushed. We are destroyed in divorce, and can either surrender to the past, or be reborn.

I yearn to share a sunrise with a woman who grins, sand between her toes and music in her soul and goodness in her heart who lights up when she sees me, and shares the feeling that everything is right when she is beside me. I want to drink red wine and joy with her long into the night until the sun comes up, and hear that song in my chest, for that is the glory, those moments of peace and promise where the air is sweet and the world is right and tomorrow is better because we are together.

When we find each other, we will know.

.