For the most part, I been a fairly secretive person. I never told loved ones more than they needed. Seemed cruel to do otherwise. For instance, my parents, girlfriends and lovers were never told of trips to Cali, Columbia, Lima, Peru, Venezuela or any other weird or dangerous place. Of course there was always the chance my family could see their son/lover on a terrorist propaganda film. I accepted that potential but took stock in my ability to know the difference between good and bad social situations.
Having been in the military and astute business traveler, one grows accustomed to danger. You continually assess risk against reward, pain versus gain. But I always scoped an out, always looked for an extraction point. For instance, to this day, none know I can recall phone numbers and addresses of 56 US Embassies across the world, key US flights into and out of high risk countries, potential exit information ports and docks, trains and key border crossings.
For many years, wanting more meant getting back to US soil in one piece, with limbs and sanity attached. There’s no way to simply explain the destruction seen. Disaster pictures posted on CBS, NBC, CNN and ABC bear little resemblance to it’s real world counterpart. Standing among miles of desecration of a typhoon is like having a sadistic artist chisel an image unto your psyche. It’s impossible for a NBC Nightly News photograph to replicate the scene. Seeing a deceased man after the Haiti earthquake was sensory overload. Media photographs come unaccompanied by groans of death, pleadings with God for mercy or pleadings for death, a child’s tears and caskets lining miles of road. To those who bear witness, images float like unprocessed photographic stills left on a USB memory stick. You know they’re there but they’re undeletable.
For those tucked in peaceful towns, criticism comes easy. But for people like myself, reporters, men and women of the Armed Forces, Doctors Without Borders and many many others, living completely only occurs from a 17 inch carry-on.
We live such lives because few can do what we do.
Coming home presents other problems. There are no Biblical verses that adequately mitigates stress. Verses expounding one giving their burdens to unto the Lord are drastically inadequate for those with a .38 caliber pistol pointed at their forehead. I’ve accepted just how difficult comphrension is for someone born, bred and living in a faithful community to understand the complexities village life 7,000 miles away. Thus, we accept gaps occur, people who spoke one way finds other voices, believers become unbelievers and unbelievers become believers. It’s the circle of life.
Wanting more is a theme humans seemingly perpetuate. Watching season 3 of Downton Abbey I found Lady Mary’s character pretty much a spoiled brat, rude and oversly self-absorbed about being a countess and staying at Downtown. I compare such images against that of a woman met eighteen years prior in South Africa. Her home consisted of four sheet metal walls, a tin roof, dirt floor, a blanket and some pots. I asked if there be heaven on earth, what would that look like?
“Heaven on earth would be running water.“
Ah, one man’s faucet is another man’s heaven.
A lifetime of wanting and craving creates a powerful energies that draw us toward fulfillment in the wrong ways. If we control the negative form of grasping and subdue it through insight, we’d be in a position to organize our life free of even the smallest trace of unnecessary clinging. To do so means you’d be capable of working and living peacefully in the world, of being undefiled, enlightened and tranquil.
We must lessen ‘want’s‘ burden.