We first met at a sheriff's department in Wyoming where we both worked. He's ex-military like me, is an expert in outdoor survival (which I am nowhere near his knowledge base in), and has just enough brain damage to try anything once, no matter how crazy and life threatening it sounds. For example, he willingly jumped into one of my whitewater kayaks one day up in the Uinta Mountains of Utah on the upper Provo River, Slate Gorge section, and went kayaking with me down a class 4 run with waterfalls. He had never been in a kayak before and wanted to give it a try. His lines weren't beautiful, but he survived the run and we had a great adventure. We've also been on a number of winter backcountry mountaineering trips, spent a bit of time climbing cliffs, and hiking mountain trails and just hanging out. I suspect he read my blog earlier this morning (before I edited it) and decided he needed to check up on me to make sure I wasn't planning on doing something stupid like a "do- it-yourself" frontal lobotomy with a Sawzall, rusty butter knife and dull hedge clippers.
Sterling is also suffering from a jacked back. His is worse than mine, and had to have 3 vertebra fused together last summer...and he is only in his 30's. He is experiencing the constant pain, the exhaustion, the lack of motivation much like I am, and is very limited in his physical endeavors like myself. He had been a Blackhawk medivac pilot in the Army, but his had to give up that dream job because of his back...and it hurts his soul terribly. He is doing his best to move forward, but his body is reluctant to heal in a way that would allow him to start his next adventure in life.
We got together today to talk, drink coffee and just hang out. We compared our similarities with our backs and tried to find something positive to keep our inner energy charged. His struggles are much like mine because we both used to express ourselves by physically and mentally challenging ourselves in the outdoor, preferably in the wilderness. We would seek out our perceived physical/mental limits...and then go beyond them.
Over coffee, we talked about what kinds of new careers we could pursue that would be challenging, fulfilling, exciting, preferable with part of the day out of door...but that can be done with jacked up backs, and wit a reasonable salary. We hadn't come up with much, but we also haven't given up.
Having a friend come over to show his concern, and listen to you talk, and share their idea's, hopes, fears and problems, is something to be cherished. I know a few people, some from work, some old friends, some new acquaintances, all who are good people, but most are too busy with their own lives, careers, problems and families, or who are unfairly judgmental because you are weak and can't tough out the pain without medicinal assistance (cops excel at this), or label you as a SEP- somebody else's problem.
I understand why that is and don't take it personally, it's just how it is. And I myself certainly need to step up more often to provide that compassion and companionship to others, make some time to listen to them in their time of need and provide whatever emotional or other support that I can. I need to pass on the gift that Sterling gave to me today. When you're down, with low self-esteem, feeling like the best days of your life were yesterdays (and the years before), and your previous life dreams are now unachievable, it's invaluable when a friend shows their concern, their love and their understanding...because sometimes it only takes one random self-less act of kindness to make the difference.
Thanks Brother. Thank you for the gift of yourself!!!
And while I'm expressing appreciation, I wish to thank the friend that listened to me this morning, provide some guidance and support while we talked about my situation. You have always been there for me, asking how I'm doing, and telling me I look terrible and am not acting like myself (both in good caring ways). I cannot express my appreciation enough (and probably haven't) for your concern and empathy. You rock (and you know who you are-one of the few that I told about this web site and know about some things I have accomplishments that I don't tell many people about)!
Well, I hope this is the ying for my depressing yang from last night. Sorry to all for being a big bummer. And just to clarify, I'm not seeking pity, not asking for people to send me "Cheer up" or "Feel Better" card, I'm not hinting for my other friends and acquaintances to call me or show up at my house to feel bad for me. I'm just typing out my thoughts. This blog is my journal, and I tend to just lay it all out there cause it helps me vent when that is needed, helps me to process my thoughts and emotions, and helps me to see my life on paper (or LCD, since this is the 2000's), which I can understand better when I write it out and can revisit my thought later in time.