Sunday, November 20, 2011


I went to the beach, Mustang Island, out of desperation.  Desperate to see if I could breathe again, to find my life, my future, and my ability to remember to take care of myself first, and to more importantly  find the strength to continue. 

I relaxed.  It is impossible not to with the waves crashing onto the shore, the sound of the surf, the time of year when see you are the only person on the beach and nothing is more important than that moment, when you find you are not thinking, not worried, not pressured and not overcome by life and the burdens it is constantly dropping in your lap.

The purpose became real.  The lesson poignant and vivid.

It is on the island that finding what truly is important, when you are completely and totally exhausted and in constant pain, it isn't all that difficult.

In highschool, I was required to memorize "Invictus" by William Earnest Henley.  For some reason, watching the waves roll in and out, as the sun was about to rise, and I sipped my coffee, I remembered this poem. And recited it aloud.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have winced but not cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloodied but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade.
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."

As I sat on the top floor of the 12 story condo at 6:00 AM , inhaling, exhaling, the sea, the salt water, the peace was all a gift of life. Suddenly, my very special gift from the sea appeared on this warm November early morning. A gift so vibrant, unexpected and so forceful, I couldn't help but shed tears in abundance. 

You see, just days before Thanksgiving, I was sent a messenger. This most unusual messenger flew onto the ledge of the balcony, as I was setting up to take photographs of the sunrise (always a powerful moment for me).   But little did I know how powerful and forceful the message this time would be.

I have recently questioned my life, my purpose, my decisions that need to be made and my constant yearning for adventures and journeys yet to be. 

Here on the island I have slept nine and a half hours in a row, undisturbed.  My anxiety and depression, as least in this time and place, vanished. Medication was not necessary. I found myself, for however brief a time, once again. The real me.  My soul found its way to the surface.

And then the messenger appeared.

As most of you must know by now, I work with wounded warriors,  amputees, burn survivers, and warriors with horrific invisible wounds of war.  Their PTSD and pain has inbedded inself so deeply inside of me that I too experience Secondary PTSD.  It isn't pretty, nor was it invited.  But it is inside of me nonetheless.  Perhaps this allows me to assist them in a more understanding way.  I get it! They see that I do and trust me.

 I understand their horror of flashbacks and a pain unspeakable.  These are men and women who were just trying to stay alive.  Who witnessed the death of their battle buddies, their friends, children, women.  They never had time to grieve, as they were just trying to stay alive.

So who was the messenger?  The messenger was a black bird.  A bird brought to me by another far greater messenger to teach me abundant lessons.  For you see, this bird had but one leg.  He too was an amputee.  He too, had somewhere along the way, paid the price for his freedom.   

You might think this odd or I am reaching too far.  But this was the only bird on the beach for as far as I could see.  None in the water, none in he sand, nore the air.  He came alone.  It was then that I understood.  As he ate a breakfast of French bread on the ledge, so close I could have reached out and touched him, I realized I need to take care of me first, so that I can take care of others.  The turbulance I live with daily is demolishing me. I have only this moment, sparkling like a star, then melting like a snowflake.  The moments are slipping away much too rapidly.  But what more was this messenger trying to tell me?  I remembered a quote from Marie Beynon Ray.  It put it more into perspective.

"Begin doing what you want to do now.  We are not living in eternity.  We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.  Let us use it before it is too late."

My life's chaos and turbulence is troubling, exhausting, and taking its toll on me physically and mentally. It has become my life force and my demolishion all at he same time. Okay Mr. Bird what am I to do? Where is my list of things to do?  Florence Nightengale said, "I think that feelings waste themselves in words; they ought to be distilled into actions, and into actions which bring results."   But I still had no concrete answers.

The messenger came out of no where.  But what is the answer.  If I begin doing what I want to do now, I let others down ~ my warriors.  Would not life become insipid and empty.  If I continue, I jeopardize my life. So perhaps the lesson lies in taking a break, as best I can.  Letting go of the less important things, and listening to the message brought to me by a bird with only one leg.  You can continue, you can go on, but first you need to take care of yourself. Perhaps the bird was saying rest and then return to your warriors.  Do what they were unable to do.  Find the time to grieve those things in your life that you haven't grieved.  Let go of those people and things and times that you have no control over.  Let go.  Let go.  Let go. Do it. Do it.

The second morning at the beach, the bird returned. Same time!  I fed him.  I thanked him and wished him well.  As I felt certain in some very real way he understood.  I also thanked a messenger much higher up for teaching one of his children a lesson she very much needed to hear. 

"We dread being wounded or beaten.  We are tempted to give up.  Yet if, despite these difficulties, we engage in some form of action, whether we are beaten or not, we will have won a victory."

~Piero Ferrucci

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