As we drove home, wet from the rain, he told me he felt bad that I sat on the bank while he fished. He wondered why I didn’t join him. “I didn’t mind,” I said. “I was cold and damp and it was good to sit under the tree for a bit.” I couldn’t find the words to tell my son that watching him in this place, as his line danced over the water, was more than I could ever have needed in that moment.
Had to share this:
How is your heart at this very moment, at this breath?
At my niece’s wedding this weekend, I got to spend some time with my nephew, her brother, who served three combat tours in Iraq with the 17th Infantry. He is 27 now and living in Phoenix with his wife. He has suffered from PTSD, understandably, given the horrors that he lived, including watching a close friend die in his arms. As we talked, he shared that he has struggled to find a worthwhile job since coming home.
He was a leader in the Army. When he gave an order, his men followed. He has presence. He is the guy everyone likes and wants to spend time with. When he returns home to Michigan, 50 friends show up at his folks’ house to see him. He was not, however, a good student, and I suspect that the limitations of a thinly-won high school diploma hold him back in his job search. I hope that, very soon, a hiring manager out there will look at him holistically and recognize the worth and value of this warrior-turned-civilian. He wants nothing more than that.
A lot of companies are publicizing their commitment to hire veterans, and I applaud their efforts. I hope it’s more than a PR stunt and that they truly give these men and women the opportunity to work in a job commensurate with their value and to share their strengths with our communities. Today and everyday, let’s give them a chance.
On a ski team bonding weekend trip last month, my son sang along with his phone as it played Johny Cash’s Folsum Prison Blues: “When I was just a baby, my mama told me, son, always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns. . . ” His 20-something coach looked up and asked why he knew the words to that song. “Don’t you?” my slightly disrespectful kid asked. In his mind, Johny is so fabulous, he can’t imagine anyone not knowing the words to his songs.
He listens to hip hop and dubstep (are those different things?), country and classical. He shares an iTunes account with his dad and plays gospel, “Oh Happy Day,” Bob Marley and Aerosmith. He hears a Hall and Oates song on The Voice and searches it on YouTube, downloads it from iTunes and two days later I hear him coming up the stairs singing, “you make-a my dreams come true.” Ooo o. O o ooo o.
Our digital world is changing the culture of music. When I was young (I say, sounding like my grandma) we listened to whatever played on the radio, mix tapes (often recorded from the radio) and our friends’ vinyl collections over and over. “Oldies” were for our parents. Today, music is more fluid: a new song samples a classic, and an entire generation is exposed to the beauty of Etta James.
This respect for artists of all genres feels new. It gives me hope and confidence in a generation that is growing in its own direction, with its own culture, sense of style and appreciation for artistic talent, whenever and where ever it was born.