Twelve years ago I set off on a trip down the Colorado River with a large group of kids, as part of a high school leadership trip. With the repeated newsflashes of the towers as we drove in a bus, pulling canoes and the imagination of why and who while looking into the eyes of those 50 teens, we continued into the canyon for a multiple day trip, I was fearful for their future.
We were constantly distracted through those few days without communication laying on a beach beside a drifting river, under a star filled and contrail less sky wondering, worrying and contemplating what’s happening in this big bad world. It was however the great outdoors and red stone towers surrounding us that carried and protected peace within our group those few days, which harnessed such amazing growth.
Other than my own birth, not one day carried so much permanence, in every cell in my being and so many around me over these 12 years. Who knew it would change so many of my life paths and lead to so many moments to reflect on? I’ve learned that with reflection comes honor. With honor comes emotion.
Emotion bouncing so frantically fragile between anger, resentment, sadness and fear. With that sadness often comes withdrawal and tipping a drink back. The last 7 years have been most reflected with my travels throughout the middle east and other corners of the world trying to help others find peace in the chaos. There has been chaos, but I have found my own peace, once again.
In honor, of the many fears, tears and beers shared with all too many brothers and sisters that have been taken or have taken their own lives who sacrificed everything to stand up for all of our rights and land.
Here’s in honor of and to the OEF/OIF, brothers and sisters in our homeland, and the first responders, who may carry that fight to their pillows in search of their own peace. I’ll always be there with an arm out reached.
To all those who have lost loved ones or those who miss their loved ones who may be off defending our freedom, I understand, this day is hard. I also wake with tears in my eyes and will never forget all that we’ve shared and those times of laughter and pain painted into the backs of my eyes. I’m here, with an outstretched hand.
Stand-up. Move. Share. Celebrate. Breathe. Live.
I have learned that with every great loss and tragedy, arise opportunities for light and celebration. Honorable celebration in honor of those who have and continue to give so much. Those we honor fight and have fought to protect our communities, the great outdoors and public lands that we can choose to share boot steps on, together. Being alone on these dreaded days isn’t an option. Find a trail, a pair of pedals, laughter in a cafe, a lake with a fishing pole, climb a rock, take a picture of a bird soaring- with a group of people, some of which may be a former stranger. Find your new unit…. create a new tribe… to help continue to honor those who’ve given so much in greater numbers. But we have to choose to first take a new step, powered by those both beautiful and bone chilling memories.
When I reach a summit, surf the river waves or see those stars high above, I always cherish those lost smiles and those deep belly laughs of the many who I knew that passed. All the while a whistling wind thrusts a raven higher in every thermal carrying the thoughts and wishes of our brothers and sisters into their grasp.
In honor of those first responders, soldiers lost and the veterans who all gave so much, find a group to move with on these tough days. There are great opportunities in every community that will help to get out and carry their mission onward, with the many organizations that are out there, with their arm extended ready to help you move and get out, in your new unit and tribe.
The tears dried up today and I’m going to find a hill top amidst this cold rain, to find that raven to send my love off to some dear friends that I greatly miss.
Strength is in numbers while in our great outdoors!
Thank you first responders, veterans and those who have given everything for me to be able to enjoy this Colorado rainy day.