The night was dark, an eerie dark that haunted the streets of Iraq. Silence - the silence lodged in the fibers of our being – paid me a visit on those streets. This silence didn’t come alone, oh no, it demanded a dramatic entrance.
I was watching the road manifest from the green depths of my night vision goggles when something happened. I didn’t see a flash or hear an ear deafening blast, I simply felt silence. An overwhelming silence, stillness, maybe even peace. At that moment, I was home, more so than ever before. It felt as if I was outside the restriction of time, I knew something had gone wrong but I wanted the silence to last forever. I came back to this reality amidst confusion, smoke, and screaming. A long painful journey followed.
We made it back to our dusty quarters where the others and I received thorough examination. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a mild concussion and a few scarps and bruises. Even still, I had to stay awake for a couple hours to be sure everything was in order. I sat waiting, terrified. Not terrified of war, but terrified of what my mind might torture me with next. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself I was a tough rugged man ready to visit violence on my enemies, all I could do was weep, afraid, afraid of the possibility of peace, and at the same time afraid I would never experience it again.
I spent years drowning this experience with booze, and pills, whatever it took. I never stayed alone with my thoughts unless I was properly medicated. Finally, rock bottom found me in a worn out hotel in North Carolina. I was training for a job I did not want and trying to keep it all together. What, I asked myself, was I trying to keep together, a web of lies, hidden addiction? Enough! My blessings showed themselves as an empty checking account. Not having enough money to pay for my addiction, I began to squirm. Something happened, Instead of doing something drastic to get the money for another bottle, I faced my fear. I was finally ready to face my thoughts and demand they stand still and let me engage the silence again.
Years after this unexplainable silence abruptly introduced itself to me, I finally stood ready to face it. I began to look for ways to examine war’s profound silence, the peaceful feeling from that blast. This was not an easy task; revelation did not bestow itself upon me in that instant as I hoped it would. After some trial and error, I concluded meditation was the right place to start. That was two years ago and my life has changed tremendously since.
To truly experience silence, no matter how short, is to experience peace. I believe silence is the basis of everything good, the further we distance ourselves from it the more difficult it is to feel and understand peace and love. I meditate every day and experience this silence in every moment that I can.
Now, I am happy every day. I wake up every morning excited for the
tremendous gifts present in my life and for the endless opportunities that lay
before me. I am always looking for silence and I find it now, more often than I
ever could have imagined.
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