Dance Like Nobody Is Watching

Though I wish I didn’t sometimes, I do care what other’s think of me. I try not to, but there it is.
I’m particularly self conscious about dancing. The honest truth of it, is that I really struggle to keep a beat. I mean, I can…
Just not for very long.
When trying to secretly dance behind closed blinds in my own home, I will lose the beat several times over the course of one song.
I’m super embarrassed by this, and NEVER dance in public because of it.
What really kills me about it though, is that my wife LOVES to dance, and is pretty dang good at it. I could watch her dance all day!
But it’s just not the same as being out there with her. And still, I can’t rally the courage to join her.
Oh, we danced. The once. At our wedding. And I couldn’t hang for one solid song. Which, you know, was just mortifying.

Annnywhooo… Enough history, on with the story.

My wife and I attended our first music festival together this past weekend, in the beautiful wilds of Mendocino county, California. The Enchanted Forest Gathering, to be specific.
Now, there were several groups we were excited to see, but one in particular really makes me want to move my body. So I think, “THIS is it. There is no better opportunity to dance with my wife. When they come on, it’s going down…”
Saturday night rolls around, and there is magic in the air. Welcoming smiles, and happy faces everywhere. Not a hint of hostility or judgement to be found. When our group finally hit the stage, I had butterflies in my stomach, but was ready.
They dropped the bass…
…and I lost my mind.
I danced with my wife.
We held down the back of the open air venue for a song or two before deciding we need more. We pressed through the surging, dusty crowd, and swinging dreadlocks to the front of the stage and danced like we never have before together. Swaying and bouncing to the beat, hearts bursting with love and joy for their entire set.
Just exquisite.
Afterwards, we mill around for while, taking in the sights before heading back to our camp to retire.
I’m on fire inside! I got the spirits! This is a totally new and exciting! I must explore this further!
I explain my burning need to my wife, she is ready for bed, but doesn’t mind if I go back out by myself. So we agree on a “curfew”, I tuck her in, gear up, and head toward music.
The first stage I find is pumping out some deliciously funky tunes, so without giving myself time to think about it and chicken out, I rushed to the front, stake an empty claim by the speakers, put my back to the crowd, and set about leaving it ALL on the floor.
I danced.
As time went on, I knew people were watching me, but found myself able to sort of block it out.
Oh shoot! I forgot an important part of the history. I recently developed PTSD after an accident, and am still learning to live with it. I have panic attacks, extreme anxiety, and the occasional full blown flashback. Startles are dangerous, ya feel me? This is also important, because inner peace is now more vital to me than ever. Hold onto that thought.
Now, where were we?
Wrestling demons by the speaker.
I think people tried to engage me, but I was dancing for me, and me alone, so I paid no mind. I lost the beat countless times. I even stumbled a few times, but didn’t care.
I’m baring my soul through movement, and it feels good.
It’s spiritual. At times primal. A little scary, but exciting.
People are totally watching me now, and I don’t give a shit anymore.
This is for me.
After about an hour of non stop dancing, I am absolutely exhausted, and covered in sweat, but I feel utterly victorious.
Just then, someone rushes past me on my right, startles me, and I feel a panic attack just on the horizon. So I scramble to gather my stuff, and bolt for a secluded place to catch my breath.
When I calm back down, I head back to camp and immediately pass out.
Completely and utterly…
at peace.
The next morning, I woke on top of the world, and have been dancing ever since.


There and Back Again

I am outdoorsy.
I love day hiking, mountain biking, camping, and pretty much anything else that gets me away from humans and their concrete for a while.

It’s not just about being an active person though, ya know?
Though I have always been soothed by nature, I find it absolutely vital since I developed PTSD. The activity is secondary to the location. It’s spiritual. I feel the presence of my Gods amongst the trees. I can almost make out their words in the silence and stillness of the forest floor.
I am at peace in the woods.

So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to experience backpacking for the first time, when a good buddy invited me along for two nights and three days in the Trinity Alps.

The entire trip was incredible, but this story is about one experience in particular. Well, one PEBBLE, if you really want to boil it down.
We’ll come back to that.

After a grueling hike in, and setting up base camp the first day, it was decided the next morning he would show me a few neat spots on our way up to “the lakes”. At which, he would fish, whilst I natured in whatever manner I saw fit. (Most likely rock-hop around the shore and just enjoy the scenic solitude.)

So we packed our day bags and headed in… and up.

Already gorgeous country, I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s beauty increase the deeper and higher we marched. Soft forest floor and gentle streams fell away to granite slopes and waterfalls. Evergreen canopies opened up, revealing breathtaking mountain peaks.

One peak in particular struck me. It was stunning. Literally. I was stunned that we had such magnificent peaks this close to my home, and I never knew.

My eyes were drawn to the great and ominous monolith the entire time we hiked. Guiding us ever deeper into the backcountry like a beacon.

Eventually, we crested the final ridge into the “Alpine” valley proper, revealing the fabled mountain lakes, and was not at all disappointed by their beauty.

As I stood in awe, slowly taking it all in, it suddenly occurred to me, that the base of the peak I had been admiring all morning, was now immediately to my left.
“Holy shit.” I thought. “It’s RIGHT THERE!”

I can’t fully describe the feeling that washed over me other than, I was suddenly and completely compelled to be on it’s peak. Every fiber of my being yearned to be at the top of this mountain. I MUST get up there.

Understand please, that I am not naïve. I recognize my own inexperience and only basic, theoretical knowledge of mountaineering. I am wholly aware of the recklessness of this undertaking, yet am undeterred. I am as steadfast as the mountain itself in my need to see it’s peak.

So I thanked my buddy for his concerns, and help route planning, filled my water bottle one last time in the lake…
and Hobbit-ed up.

At first, it was light rock hopping on granite boulders, and light bushwhacking through dense, but short brush, with an occasional vertical foot or two climb. Already sore from the previous day’s hike in, progress was slow and tedious, yet driven.

About forty five minutes up, I took my first real break, and enjoyed the view of the shrinking lakes. After this, everything got more… severe.

Vertical climbs where higher, brush was thicker and taller, washouts and loose rocks threatened injury or worse everywhere. The flora made for a bear’s paradise, with wild blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries running rampant. Complete with cool springs and pools coming straight out of the rocks. Amazing, but worrisome. So I made sure to make extra noise as I bushwhacked.

As I approached the top, every single muscle in my body wanted to cramp up. My head pounded, sweat poured out of every pore, and I ached absolutely everywhere. I had scratches, blisters and bruises from my hands to my feet, and every bit of exposed skin felt scorched in the sun. Breaks came often.
…but I pressed on.

When I finally crested the ridge, it was surreal.

I looked down the cliff on the other side.

And wept.

The feeling was akin to watching the doctor immediately place my newborn daughter on my wife’s chest after giving birth to her, and knowing they are both going to be okay.
Flooded with euphoric relief.
In that moment, the universe is utterly perfect, and ALL is well.

I stayed up there for quite a while. I thanked the mountain. I thanked my Gods. I built my own little cairn at the top of the world. I ate my trail lunch, and enjoyed the view before starting my descent with newfound vigor.

Wait! This is a story about a pebble right?

I took this stone from the peak of my mountain as a reminder that-
You are never so alive as when you take your life into your own hands.
And sometimes, when you attempt crazy things…
You succeed.

I am capable of conquering MOUNTAINS if I try.

Burning Bridges

I was raised by my grandparents, and never really knew my biological father. I met him once briefly, when I was a teenager, but when the opportunity arose to develop a real relationship with him, when he finally wanted to get to know me…
I declined.
‘My turn to abandon him!’ reasoned angry teenage me.
I gave ’em the cold shoulder and that was that.

I would find out a few years later that he had died unexpectedly.

That was it.

My window had closed. I let the opportunity to know my father slip through my fingers, and lost it forever.
I got blackout drunk and angrily lamented the anger of my youth.

Fast forward a few years.
Through the magic of social media, my father’s brother found and reached out to me.
Our families met for breakfast one morning, and we have been friends ever since.
Through him, I’ve found out about that side of my family. I’ve gotten to know, and know about, sisters, aunts, uncles and other relatives. Some living right here in the same town as me. Some I had even known before we knew we were related!
Pretty neat, says I.

Fast forward a few more years.
I find out I also have a half brother, that is just a little older than me, who shared a similar relationship with our father as I did. He contacts me, we commiserate, and become friends on social media. And let me tell ya, he was SO excited to find out about me! We even have similar taste in music! Unfortunately, that’s about it, as far as similarities go.
So we lock horns over politics and various social issues (on social media, as we live a considerable distance from each other) for a year or so, before I finally angrily remove him from my friends list, essentially cutting him out of my life before I ever even meet him in person.
See, what kills me about it, is that I know he suffers from severe depression. It’s possible that his hostility stems from that. I know hurt people hurt people. I know I should act with more love, but I just can’t take the hatefulness anymore. That’s it. Done.

Fast forward a couple months.
This morning I found out that the brother I never met, lost his fight with depression.

That was it.

My window has closed.
And I find myself lamenting the anger of my youth.

Everything Changed

To date, I have had half a dozen events in my life that I would truly consider “life changing”.

The first time my then future wife really smiled at me.
The day I found out I was going to be a father.
The day I got sober.
The day I found out I was going to be a father again.
The day one of my best friends was murdered.
And finally, the day a girl got hit by a truck under my watch.

This post is going to be about the lattermost, and how it has affected everything since.

Before I dive in, I think it important to understand a bit about who I am, in order to better understand how this event has affected me.
I am a highly sensitive introvert. A Myers-Briggs INFP. One of those “love and light” hippies that cares about everything… To a fault sometimes. An empath. But most importantly, a protector.
Because I am so deeply bothered by hurt and unkindness, I go out of my way to prevent them wherever possible, often, at great cost to my own well-being.
People feeling safe around me is incredibly important to me. Ya dig?

With that said, I have worked at a small charter school for ten years as “Campus Aide III”. Maintenance and student supervision. I like to say, “I spend half my day keeping an eye on the kids, the other half, fixing all the stuff they break.”
One of my many duties, is morning crossing duty. A duty that I take EXTREMELY seriously.
I am a crossing guard on the main thoroughfare of our town, at one of the busiest times of day, and in ten years, had never had an injury under my watch. A fact that I was quite proud of.

The morning of April 7th, 2015, I set about my job as usual. Unlocking gates, opening bathrooms, putting flags up, and getting up to the crosswalk by 7:30 for crossing duty.
Around 7:40 or so, a group of kids needed to be crossed.
I waited for a break in traffic, held up my stop sign, walked slowly out to the middle of the street to give drivers time to see me, did one last check … both lanes of northbound traffic were stopped, the turning lane was stopped, the farthest most southbound lane was stopped, and the nearest car in second southbound lane slowing to stop.
So I waved the kids through.
As they walked out into the crosswalk, chattering about this and that on their way to school, with not a care in the world, I suddenly heard an engine that was obviously not in the process of lowering RPMs. I glanced over my shoulder just in time to see a pickup that had seemingly come out of nowhere, rushing past me, with no intention of stopping, and time slowed to a crawl.
I felt the wind of the truck passing me less than two feet away, screamed at the kids to stop, and as the truck entered the crosswalk, there was a split second where I thought it was just a close call.
Then I heard that sound.
…and saw her things explode into the air as she disappeared under the hood.
My world shattered.
A ’65 Ford pickup, going at least forty miles an hour, just hit one of my students dead on, right next to me, and I could do nothing but watch in horror as she was drug and mutilated under his truck for what felt like an eternity as he finally came to a stop, 50 feet or so from the crosswalk.
I threw down my sign and coffee cup as I sprinted to her mangled body, crumpled in the middle of the street.
I won’t go into any more detail other than it was the single most horrific thing I have ever seen in real life.

When the first officer showed up, and I felt I could, “stand down”, I walked over to the sidewalk and just lost it. Panicked, hyperventilating, sobbing uncontrollably for Gods knows how long.
She was airlifted to our nearest trauma center in critical condition, immediately underwent surgery, and though she suffered some major injuries, is going to live.
I got a ride home and spent the rest of the day in what looking back at, I can now call a state of shock.

I was an utter mess. The event would replay randomly in my head, causing a huge anxiety spike each time. Cars scared me. People walking by outside on the street worried me. I was in a constant state of high alert. Easily started. And when something DID startle me, it took waaay longer to recover from than it used to. Then, certain things, like the sound of sirens, would send me into a full blown flashback panic attack. When I say “flashback”, I don’t just mean an uncomfortable memory. I mean, I fully feel like I am at the scene of the incident. Panicked, trembling, hyperventilating, and sobbing uncontrollably. Completely reliving the full gamut of emotions as though I were still there. So I stayed home for the rest of the week.

The following monday, I wasn’t any better, but deep down in the back of my head, I felt like I would be able to just push it aside for work. Keep it under control, ya know? Maybe hide in the bathroom or something if I needed to meltdown, but still do work.
I was sadly mistaken. I had no control at all.
Just being there made my baseline anxiety levels skyrocket. I was a nervous wreck. Every little thing was a trigger.
Kids running by… flashback.
Kids yelling… flashback.
General school commotion… flashback.
I spent half of the day right back at that damned crosswalk… in my head.
After that, the severity of my situation really set in, and with it, depression.

I am completely fucking broken, and don’t know how to move forward.

I let my boss know that I’m going to need more time, and got Worker’s Comp rolling. I got home and had an emergency call with a therapist, who said that she doesn’t usually recommend it, but in this case, I should see a doctor and get some medication. Great, but I’m in crisis NOW. So I called a Crisis counselor… who said the same thing. See a doctor and get some meds.
My first day back to work resulted in me going to the E.R. to be put on Xanax.

So… where are we now?

Well, EVERYTHING is different. I feel like I blew a fuse in my brain, and it affects every aspect of my life.
My baseline anxiety levels are lowest at home.
So I try to balance leaving the house as little as possible, with not becoming a shut in.
Even at home, things that used to just make me a little anxious, now make me a lot anxious. So though I may appear calm on the outside, I’m on the verge of a panic attack… often.
The incident still replays randomly in my head, causing a huge anxiety spike each time.
When I am startled, it takes forever for me to calm back down. Not even just startled. Pretty much anything that causes any type of excitement, takes me a long time to recover from.
I’m struggling with self worth.
I’m moody.
I feel hyper sensitive. I hear and see every little thing, all the time, which is really not as cool as it sounds. There’s no break. I can’t turn it off. I have to close the blinds, turn off all the lights and tv, and put on earmuffs and sunglasses just to catch some peace.
Then the triggers…
So. Many. Triggers.
The biggest one is sirens. Firetruck sirens specifically. The moment my brain recognizes it as a siren, I am immediately thrust back into the incident. Running toward her broken body laying in the street. Pure terror.
You know that sudden rush of panic when you drop a glass, but before it hits the floor? That. It’s that feeling, but constant. The glass never hits the floor. The panic just stays. If I had a pressure gauge, it would be redlining all the time.
Then there’s also the sound of certain engines.
People running.
Things rushing past me on my right.
Sometimes, even just being startled.

I’ve had flashbacks sitting at the table, eating dinner with my kids when a siren went by. Sitting in the passenger seat of my wife’s car when someone tried to cross the street. Casually talking with my wife in the garage. Waking up from a nap. So on and so forth.
Every. Day.

I am in a CONSTANT state of high alert, it affects every aspect of my life, my family’s life, and that absolutely terrifies me. I WANT help, but right now, it’s a bunch of “hurry up and wait” as things get bounced back and forth through workers comp.
So, I wait.
In pieces.

Loving a Big Girl In a Fat Shaming World.

I am slim, and I love a big girl… On PURPOSE!
I say “on purpose” because she was never “skinny”. She was big when I pursued her… on purpose. I make this distinction because I am fully aware of your pity. I’m not as oblivious as you may think.
When we are walking down the street together, I can see it in your eyes. I can see it in your body language. I can hear it in your whispers as we pass. In your snickers. As though she somehow tricked me into a relationship. As though she somehow is undeserving of my love because of YOUR prejudice. In fact, the only thing keeping me from busting you in the mouth for that “poor guy” comment that you didn’t think I would hear, IS my love for her. In that moment, her not knowing about your ugliness altogether, is more important to me than lifting you out of your shoes for it. You’re lucky she didn’t hear you too.

She is smart. She is funny. She is compassionate. She is passionate. She is independent. She is a great mother. She is the best wife. There is no human being on this planet that I would rather be with. She is the most important thing in my life.

But all you see is fat.

She is voluptuous. Curvy. Vivid. Vivacious. Full. Complete. With the most sensuous lips I’ve ever seen, and the gaze of a succubus. She sets my blood aflame. She is my siren, and my muse.

Yet, even in the privacy of her own home, she hides her skin from the one person who loves her body wholly and completely and wants nothing more than to see it.

Fuck you for that. Fuck you SO much for that.

Oh, it’s a “health issue” now that you’ve been called out on your prejudice?
Okay, let’s talk about health then. SHE runs several half marathons a year, while your treadmill is collecting dust in the garage. SHE hiked Half Dome and ran a half marathon the following weekend, while you were playing Xbox. She is up at five in the morning, lacing up her running shoes while you are reaching for the snooze button. She is at Zumba after working a ten hour day, while you are picking up a six pack. She is at Tabata while you are curling up for a nap. She is at Yoga, while you are nursing a hangover. She is picking up a salad wrap, while you are stopping for a burger and fries. She eats better than me AND less often, but you assume I’M the health conscious one.
The truth of it is, she probably knows more about diets and clean eating and healthy habits than anyone I know, BECAUSE she has felt the need to try ALL of them… because of you.
And you have the audacity to offer up unsolicited and unwanted health advice?!

No. It’s not a “health issue”. It’s a jealousy issue. You are jealous that she is SO completely loved, inside AND out, while you and your values keep finding sorry, shallow, superficial partners.
Huh. Funny how that works.

See, the thing is, prejudice, hate, and callousness are WAAAY uglier than fat.

So, you can take your pity for me, and your prejudice for her, and shove ’em up your ass.
I love her more than life itself, and she deserves nothing less.
I HOPE that burns you.

Rock Bottom

In the hope that maybe it helps keep someone from having one of their own, I give you my “rock bottom” story.

I know what it’s like to have a dozen assault rifles leveled at me.

Wait. Let’s back up a bit. Maybe a little history will help you fully grasp the severity of my situation.

Being the son of an “outlaw” biker, I grew up around drunks, and wild biker parties. Drunk was normal. Drunk was what normal people did when they weren’t at work. Get home, activate drunk. That’s life.
Let me give you a highlight example- when I was 15, my dad had a mild heart attack, early in the day on the fourth of July. The party was going to be at our house, so we had a well stocked beer fridge in the garage. I’m talking, stocked for a small army of alcoholic bikers. STOCKED.
I was tasked with finishing all the beer in the house before my dad got out of the hospital. You know… because the doctor said he shouldn’t drink when he got home. A task I welcomed, and “accomplished” in stride. So while my dad recuperated in the hospital, I spent the next three days absolutely annihilated. And nobody saw a problem with that.
THAT was my normal. That’s where I’m coming from.
Needless to say, I was physically dependent on alcohol before I was old enough to purchase it.
Now, it’s important to understand, when I say, “physically dependent”, I don’t just mean, “I really liked to have a drink on the weekends.” I mean, if I did not have booze in my system, I would get DT tremors, cold sweats, migraines, irritability, severe mood swings, and the occasional mild seizure.
Do you know how embarrassing it is for a twenty year old to have to hide his unsteady hands?

Anyway, fast forward a dozen years, a wife, daughter, and mortgage later…
I started early that day. As I always did on Saturdays. See, I liked to get extremely drunk, as quick as possible, to make up for all the lost drinking time spent at work during the week, then “maintain” throughout the course of the day… until I passed out. A typical Saturday grocery list was, a bottle of Hot Damn 100 proof, two tall cans of Joose (think Four Loko) and a thirty pack of cheap beer.
I would pound down the harder stuff, then chug beer for the rest of the day.
This day was no exception.
I was as drunk as I set out to be by noon.
My buddy came over sometime in the early afternoon, and even though he didn’t drink, my alcoholic logic saw it as an excuse to get super DUPER drunk. “Wooohoo! another person! Party time!” Feel me? So I doubled down. By the time he left, I was completely blitzed. Staggering, slurring, belligerent, unreasonable… just gone.
The next few hours get blurry, but I know I was a nightmare to be around, to say the least. And certainly not capable of responsible parenting.
Sometime in the evening, my wife made the wise decision to remove herself, and our then toddler daughter from the house. Unfortunately, my then alcoholic logic didn’t think it as wise then as I do now.
See, I hated being completely alone when I was drinking. HATED. Even if I was the only one drinking, and making a complete ass of myself in doing so, as long as I wasn’t alone, I didn’t care. Until the next morning anyway.
So when my wife informed me that she was going to be taking our daughter, and staying the night elsewhere, I flipped out. I started a horrible screaming match in an attempt to convince her to stay.
Makes perfect sense, right?
Seeing the futility of my attempts of drunken persuasion as she quickly threw together an overnight bag, absolutely enraged me, so I resorted to desperate measures.
This next sentence is the hardest, most embarrassing sentence I’ve ever written in my life.

As she reached for the door with our daughter in her arms, I threatened to shoot myself in the head if she left.

Yeah. That happened. Now, I wasn’t actually suicidal. Just, really angry, really drunk, and totally irrational.
She was on her cell with 911 before she even left the stoop. She informed them that I was astonishingly drunk, had threatened to hurt myself, and had the weapons to do so.
Overhearing her panicked conversation to the 911 operator as she headed to the car angered me even more.
“I’ll show her!” I thought. “I’ll call the cops right back at you!”
So I came back inside, and called 911 myself, to inform them that my sober, rational wife, just “kidnapped” our daughter. Now, I don’t remember exactly how that conversation went, or what was said, but the operator was aware of the situation from my wife’s side, so kept me talking on the phone while, unbeknownst to me, the police surrounded my house.
After the police were sufficiently dug in, the operator told me to step out on the front porch. Without questioning, “why”, I stepped outside, and was completely shocked and startled to hear, “FREEZE!” and find myself looking at about a dozen cops crouched behind their vehicles, with assault rifles trained on me.

It was at that moment that I finally realized I had messed up. Big time.

From then on, I was extremely hostile, but compliant. Went onto the lawn with my hands up, as directed, got tackled, rolled around and handcuffed with a knee in my back. Then, I got to sit there, handcuffed on my own front lawn, with no shoes or shirt on, and what felt like the whole world looking on, as the cops went through my house and seized my guns.

Because I had not actually committed a crime, and the officer in charge was EXTREMELY generous, I got to stay the night in the emergency room on a 5150 hold, babysat like a child, rather than in the drunk tank.

This was hands down, the worst night of my life. But it pales in comparison to the shame of the next morning. Suffering from unimaginable guilt, and a hangover for the record books, the doctor went on to tell me that I was incredibly rude to hospital staff, and need to be VERY grateful that I was not arrested, as that is what many of them wanted. He would also tell me that I had enough alcohol in my bloodstream “to kill a horse”. After a mental health evaluation, I was ever more mortified, but free to go.

Shoeless, shirtless, smokeless, embarrassed to tears, and awfully hungover, I got a ride home and immediately called my wife to blubber my way through an apology. Which, to my surprise, she accepted.

While this was certainly my rock bottom moment, it was not the start of my sobriety. I would go a few months without drinking, start to feel like I had control of myself, then convince myself that I could handle “just one”. But every single time, one turns into two, which turns into six… then the can is open. Thirty pack. Back to square one.
This went on for a few more months until my wife promised to leave if I did not get help. At that point, I finally accepted that alcohol can just NEVER be a part of my life, got help, and got sober.
For good.

Thank you for reading. And thank you to my wonderful wife for seeing in me the man I had yet to become and suffering through all that it took for me to become him. I am so sorry it took so long.

Viva la resistance!

Since our earliest civilizations, those who would seek personal power over communal growth, have deliberately and systematically divided and oppressed us to suit their needs.
They have divided us with imaginary borders, and taught us to condemn those on the other side as less than human. They have divided us by race, and taught us to hate those with a different skin color. They have divided us by gender and sexual orientation and taught us to devalue the worth of a human being. They have taught us that opposing religious and political ideals can never work together. They have taught us to value competition over cooperation. They have taught us to loathe ourselves for not being the impossible specimen of what they would have us believe is physical perfection. They have installed a financial caste system, and told us to be grateful for our indentured servitude. They have taught us hate, and told us where to direct it.

We are divided and conquered.

See, as long as we are wrapped up in hating each other for these imaginary reasons, we are too busy to direct our anger where it should be. As long as we are clawing each other tooth and nail for crumbs, our attention is not on their plate. They have flooded our lives with hate for the sake of their own greed.
But that’s just it… it’s all a lie.

I believe hate is the greatest lie. And by contrast, love is the greatest truth.
In a world consumed by hate, love is a revolutionary act.

With that, I have heard the call to arms. With kindness as my sword, and compassion as my shield, I will fight. I will let my light be the barricade on which the darkness breaks. And on my dying day, when I stand before my creator to answer for how I have spent my life, I will raise my head and proudly proclaim,

“I have loved!”