I sit here, watching the light rain falling outside, and have some Night Ranger playing in the background. The backbeat and guitar takes me back to my late teens and early twenties – a time when I was a very different person than I am today. My focus was hardly that of which it is today. Politics and religion had very little room in my life. I had no worry about a collegiate education. My focus was on living each moment like my hair was on fire. Full steam, straight ahead… I was playing soccer and helping out with plays at the local independent play-house. And I was learning…
Strange how that thought is a major part of my thinking for that time period in my life. I was learning. Many of the folks at the play-house were introducing me to classic literature, and I even found someone to show me a bit about energy play. But Paganism did not even enter into the conversation for me. I had vague perceptions that I thought there was more than just God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit – as I had been taught in Catholic boys schools. But I was not interested in developing that part of my thinking.
After exhausting my collegiate options through poor attendance and poor scholarship on my part, the only option I had left to me was the United Staes military. I joined. I was taught to do things the way the Air Force wanted, but there was always that area of my life I kept off to the side. The side of me that wanted to ask more questions, seek more answers, and accept people for who they presented themselves as. A slightly naive way of looking at the world – but one I have never seen the need to remove.
I still accept people at face value. I still expect them to be who they say they are. The ones who have done so in openness and honesty, have remained my friends throughout. The ones who haven’t – I try to dig past the facade and see who they are. After all, every person has layers to them – parts of themselves that they hide from the glare of the public light. Some just reside deeper in their cloaks than others. I never consider that someone has lied about who they are – merely that they had a reason for being cautious. Yes, I try to see the best on people….
When I started meeting people in my local area that were on the same Bulletin Board Systems that I was – I found out just how much people could hide from the world in an online personality. Nine Hells, I have done – and still do this to some degree. Everyone does. We always want to present one side of who we are to the world at large. It takes a while to walk around that online presence and determine the three dimensional aspect of a person.
Take Facebook for example. Or any other online platform. People put their best social foot forward, and sometimes that’s only their sandal. Not the foot that is in it, or the leg that the foot is attached to, or the rest of who they are. They don’t want the world to know that they are overweight, or that they are not as pretty as they think others may imagine them to be, or they have a fading hairline (that’s me!) as they move further into their living years. And honestly, no one can blame them for that. Its the way our society works – we judge people based on how they look – rather than on who they are.
There’s no question that a thin, large breasted woman is pleasing to look at for guys – at least from a physical perspective. I’ve looked at many a pleasing figure in my time. But its not what makes the person interesting to me. The physical appearance is pleasing, but it is only a single dimension of who that person is in my eyes. And honestly, its not even close to being the most important. There’s intelligence, wit, personality, the ability to carry on a conversation, the ability to listen, the smile, the eyes….all of that attracts and excites me far more than a person’s physical appearance. The physical appearance is not that big of a deal to me…I do not need or want a supermodel on my arm. I would rather have the person with the physical flaws, because there’s so much more to them than just their physical appearance.
Yet our society plays up on the physical attractiveness of a person as being a primary factor on who is the most ideal mate. We see it in the movies, we see it in the product advertising that is on television, we see it in the television shows. A person with an attractive woman/man on their arm is considered to be “lucky” and is to be envied. And yet, I envy the guy with the nerdy lady on his arm, having wonderfully intelligent conversations, and enjoying tons of fun with witty banter.
Why do I bring this up? Because we have freedoms to make choices. We can choose to find what is pleasing to our eyes, pleasing to our ears, pleasing to our touch. Here in the United States, we live under a doctrine that gives us the freedom to make those choices, to explore avenues that some may consider to be “taboo”, to sate our curiosity….and we maintain a military to defend those rights, not just for us, but for anyone. Those individuals that choose to defend this country and its Constitution give up the right to be judged under that same Constitution. They give up many of the freedoms we enjoy here – to defend those very same freedoms. And in the end, some give more than just a few years of their lives in this position of service. Some give their limbs, and parts of their bodies. Others pay the ultimate price with their lives.
…and that is what Memorial Day should be for, in my opinion. Not to thank a current military member – but rather to thank those who paid these terrible prices. I am free to explore my Paganism, in ways I never comprehended earlier in my Life. I am free to be who I am. All thanks to people who paid that price for me. The very least I can do is remember them.