Saturday, April 28, 2007

Life's Experiences

I’m often reminded of the scene in John Wayne’s The Green Berets where our hero is confronted by a very opinionated news reporter about why we are fighting in Vietnam. The Duke stops, looks the reporter dead in the eye and asks, “Have you ever been to Vietnam”? The reporter looks down and sheepishly says. “Well, no”, Wayne just lets out a grunt and walks by.

That one moment has stuck with me my entire life. Later, I went on to become a Green Beret (Special Forces officer) and spent the better part of my adult existence traveling to various troubled spots around the world, but I often ask, for what reason? I’ve struggled for an answer for as long as I’ve been doing this, and truly believe that it’s the need to experience first-hand the realities of our world. I want to taste the smell of the streets of La Paz, or feel the thump of a distant Baghdad car bomb in my chest, or listen to the morning call to pray in an Islamabad mosque. These are things that you cannot read in a magazine or watch on a 2:30 minute news broadcast. You have to be there, you have to embrace the moment and live it. I will not have my life be a regurgitation of someone else’s reality brought to me in a podcast, a book or a TV show.

My one great terror has always been sitting alone in a nursing home, knowing that this wonderful gift of a single life will soon expire, and looking back to the sudden realization that I wasted that gift; that I squandered the opportunity of...‘a lifetime’.

Over the past few years I’ve been to New Orleans, Tijuana, Sa’na, Islamabad, Baghdad, Amman It’s been utterly fascinating, every step of the way. What a great life!!

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