Sunday, December 21, 2008

Come Sail Away With Me

Chapter 23: Ain't nobody Leavin' this place without singin' the Blues

Damn. This is harder than I thought. Gainin' weight was a drag. Nothin' tastes good. I have no appetite whatsoever. How do I get past this? Gotta eat and get stronger.
Yeah, the answer was easy, but doin' it...well, that's another story. A story of deep heartache with hole to big to fill.
It ain't just my belly that's empty.

I took the drugs, and they made me sick. My body was repulsed by this toxic...poison. But I didn't stop. I knew full well what the alternative was. I just had to convince my body to accept this...poison. It wasn't gonna be easy. Hell, what is?

I read the long list of side effects for each drug. It took awhile. It's funny how the papers call these miracle drugs, I thought. They had no idea. They didn't hafta take 'em. It's so easy to have hope when you ain't the one that has to...aww hell!

Well ain't this great, I thought, chokin' down another ensure plus after throwin' up the first one. Would this one stay down? We'll see. This is so depressing. And when I get depressed I get despondent. I don't wanna do much of anything. I just wanted to escape. I was a spiritual quadraplegic.

Video games helped in more ways than one. Saving the princess again helped me regain my hand/eye coordination. Helped me focus. Gave me somethin' to do while I waited.
Waited. For what? It was so clear to me before, but was foggy and unclear.
I needed to gain strength, to gain weight. And I was so weak.

I threw up again. God...I am so depressed. This sucks! I shook as I wiped my mouth and blew my nose. I shook with...shame. Where is that can do spirit? Where is that warrior, ready, willin' n' able to fight? What in the hell is wrong with me?
Patti brought me a cold wash cloth. Bless her heart Lord, I thought, reaching for the wash cloth.

"Thanks," I said, trembling. I was shaken, to my core.

A deep concern etched Patti's face. She wanted so much to help me. I felt guilty for that. I didn't know what I would do without her. I wanted to take her concern away. She shouldn't worry, I thought, as she hugged me. Enduring this was just somethin' I had to do. But...I sure didn't feel motivated to throw my guts out and feel miserable. Quit bein' a baby! I told myself.
I smiled. A forced smile, in an attempt to show Patti I was okay. But she saw through my lyin' smile. Damn, I thought, reachin' for another ensure plus.

And so it went, day after day. Week after week. Month after month and year after year. I slowly gained in weight and strength. But depression was never too far away.
It was the 800 pound monkey on my back.
I had somehow managed to get to 140 pounds, and I hit a wall. Still better than 118, I thought, but short of my goal of 160-170.

I couldn't recall with clarity my purpose. All I knew was to live, to survive. But I knew there was much more than that. A much deeper purpose I had once known so clearly. How do I recover what I had once known so well? Somehow I had lost my purpose, that great gift God had given me.

Oh yes, I was rarin' to go when I saw my purpose, my Destiny. It was so beautiful, noble and full of Life! I was so ecstatic and filled with energy! I was so ready to battle my way to wherever God would lead me. I saw the chart of my soul! I knew who what and where I am and where I was goin'!

My oh my how the mighty Ben has fallen. Mighty...yeah, right. I'm not mighty. I'm a f*ckin' fraud, I thought. I ain't nothin'. Who was I to dream? What vision of mine matters? What damn meanin' will I ever have? No, I'm full of sh*t and I know it!
How in hell did this happen? Was it all a sham I dreamt up? A pathetic grasping of hope that was never there?

No. It was real. I know that much. I'm in a desert and I couldn't find a way out.
I needed desperately to find an Oasis. A place to recharge my soul. Inspiration.
My cynicism repulsed my self. I was tired. Sick n' tired of bein' sick n' tired.
I felt like a petulant teenager and I was filled with shame n' guilt. And...I felt worthless.

I remember that day so well. I had spent all night playin' vedeo games and when I stopped, I turned on Fox news. Just in time to see a jet airliner crash into the World Trade Center! What the hell? Immediately I knew it was terrorists. That's the only thing that made sense. Tom Clancy had written about a similar tactic in a book years before, only that pilot crashed into Congress.

And then, another plane hit the other tower. My heart jumped. My God! All those people! Please help them, I prayed. We are at war, I realized. The Pentagon was hit too, and I knew the white House and Congress were probly next. Whoever was behind this was evil incarnate! I suspected the only terrorists that had been committing homicide bombings, the radical Muslims. Perhaps the Palestinians. They did this to Israel all the time.

Then the unthinkable happened. The World Trade Center fell! Oh my God! I felt a deep sadness for all those folks, all those firemen and cops, all the military at the Pentagon, all those workers...and I felt a burning anger at those responsible for this craven and cowardly attack. I wanted nothin' more than to bring justice down on their God damned heads!

But the Navy would never take me back in my condition. It hurt so much not bein' able to fight the scum of the help wipe out these evil bastards. I knew every Veteran felt the same way I did, as well as many Patriots.

I was pissed when I heard a few pansies makin' excuses for the terrorists cowards!
It was a good thing I wasn't anywhere near these punks, and I wondered how the reporters could hold back whuppin' their candy asses. Parasites is what they are, I thought. Parasites on liberty. They have no f*ckin' problem taking advantage of the liberties they ain't never fought for, in the flesh or at the voting booths. And then they spit on everything America stands for and kiss the asses of God damned evil sons of bitches?! Tar n' feather the bastards and send them to Iran! That's what I would do if I could.

9/11 fired me up, but I was still depressed. I still didn't know what to do, or where to go. I prayed and I did my best. My best was never good enough, however.
It wasn't self pity so much, as it was the truth. Deep down I knew this time in the wilderness would end, but then what?

In 2003 Patti got a WebTV thingy. It was sorta like a computer but it was very slow and very limited. She talked me into playin' chess again online. At first, I balked, but I soon caved and started playin'.
I made some good friends over time. It was a place called and I made friends in Norway, Austria, and Tennessee.

Over time I heard of a place called from another player, and I liked that site better. I played primarily chess, but they had many other games like backgammon, checkers, grabble, battleship, and many, many more. They also had discussion boards, including politics and religion. Ha ha! Uh oh. When I read some of the leftists posting there I hadta respond.
Then there was an atheist spouting off at the religion board. I went after him too.
That was fun, but it soon got kinda old as well. I recall one conservative leavin' links to other conservative sites. Dr. Sanity really caught my attention, so I went there.

It took so long to load but man was it worth it. Dr. Sanity made so much sense! She explained many things I had always wondered about and answered so many of my questions. So that's why those lib's do that. What a treasure Dr, Sanity is, I thought, eagerly reading her posts.

It was a lot of fun to comment there, and I learned a lot about how our minds function. This was the very first positive experience I had with a psychiatrist.
Many times I wished I could see her personally. She would be able to help me find my purpose again, I thought. But I decided to be polite and courteous. I knew she couldn't help me directly online, and I wasn't about to take advantage of her and ask the many burnin' questions in my mind. That would be uncouth and just...wrong.
Besides, I was learnin' a lot about my self through her posts.

Eventually, I checked out some of the links on her sidebar. Hmmm. Ace of Spades was pretty cool and funny. I enjoyed Blackfive, hearing from Veterans the truth about Afghanistan and Iraq. Oh here's one...Shrinkwrapped. That sounded promising.
I had no idea how promising.

Shrinkwrapped was a bit different from Dr. Sanity but I liked him. He had good, meaty posts. And there was this one commenter, Gagdad Bob. I couldn't peg that guy.
His comments were...thoughtful, and compelling at times. That is, when I understood him. Ha ha! He was funny, too! I liked his puns and jokes about Palestinians.
I found myself reading all of his comments. What a keen mind! I thought.

It wasn't long before Gagdad started his own blog, and I followed the link Shrinkwrapped so generously provided.
What's this? I thought, readin' Gagdad's first posts. Some of it made sense, some, sounded new agey, but no, new agers don't believe in absolutes! The comments from Will, Sal, Gumshoe, Lisa, and others was usually above my head. Thankfully, I didn't comment much, 'cause I knew I was the ignoramus here.
Some posts were easier than others to comprehend, at least partially.

Sometimes, Gagdad would write somethin' totally off the wall! So I would leave for a few days. But I always felt compelled to come back. Who in the hell is Petey? I wondered. I stuck with Gagdad, and I looked up the definition of a brazillion words. Some of them weren't in the dictionary. Oh, I see. He's makin' up words to better explain what I have no idea about.

There was this one lady, she was Catholic, very cheery. But one day Gagdad quoted Schuon and she went ballistic! Bob was gracious but she left never to return.
Sad, I thought. I saw nothin' wrong with Schuon, personally. What I could understand anyway.

Gagdad stressed absolute Truth and that is what hooked me. Well, that and his great sense of humor and command of language. He wrote stuff I knew I was thinkin' but could never put in words. How does he do that? I thought.

I recognized that Bob was...special. Touched in the head (in a good way). A freakin' genius! So I devoured his posts, sometimes spendin' several hours readin' and rereadin' them. Includin' the comments. My questions and answers were in there, I knew. This is what Religion should be. Challenging. Inspiring me to think, ponder, contemplate and pray.

I made more good friends, such as Jimmy J., over at ShrinkWrapped. His comments were so filled with truth n' wisdom and I always enjoyed talkin' to him, and learnin' from him. We soon started
e-mailing each other and Jim sent me his book, which was very good! I learnt a lot from The Life of Walter.

Before I knew it my depression was gone. I rarely played video games again, because interacting with such good friends, Masters and Sages, invigorated me! I was...spellbound, you might say. Spellbound to Truth. That was certainly part of my purpose, Truth. I was on the right trail, and I knew my journey would soon lead me back to my purpose.

Then came the day. I'm not sure how it happened. I believe I had said somethin' about my poor health, and Bob e-mailed me, askin' what was ailin' me.
It took me awhile to respond. This wasn't somethin' you just tell anyone. But I knew I could tust Bob, so I told him, "I got AIDS."

"Oh." Bob said. He seemed surprised, but it's hard to tell by e-mail. But that didn't scare him off. Later, when I started tellin' my stories, I asked Bob if I should mention the AIDS. My question was more about the timing, actually, because I realized I couldn't tell my story without mentioning AIDS. I wanted to wait until my readers go to know me a bit before I dropped the A-bomb.

Now, the stories. Yes, that was definitely a scary thing at first. Bob had been talkin' about O-->(k) and O-->(n). IOW's God inspired gnoledge n' Nous (wisdom).
The experience and realization through experience of it. That's how we really gno.

So Bob, he basically leaves the door open for his readers, us Raccoons, to respond in the manner we are inspired.
That's when it hit me! My purpose. Tell the story. Tell the stories. Oh God, I was so scared! Trembling, I typed my first story, wingin' it. Improv all the way. I just let it flow. When I was finished I trepidly pushed the publish button.

Then I waited. And waited. And waited. Oh sh*t! I'm such an idiot! I thought. Who am I kiddin'? No one is gonna like my stories. Why oh why did I do that? They're gonna think I'm a moron!

That's the way faith is. You make the leap and pray to God you don't look too foolish. I had a feelin' I knew I was probably overreacting but I was caught up in the drama. Why is this taking so long? I wondered. The scene would play out, one way or another. The final act was about to unveil.

It don't matter what they think, a voice said. Yes it does! This ain't Ace of Spades where the expect moronery! I thought.
You really need to learn how to relax, the voice said. Easy for you to say, I muttered.

What's the worse that can happen? I wondered. No, I didn't wanna go down that road. God! I'm so pathetic sometimes!
That's okay. I won't hold it against you, the voice said.
Why did this mean so much? Because I respected the Raccoons so much. What they think means a lot to me. More than my blood relatives even.

That's the way faith works. You make an informed leap, but you can't gno what's on the other side, said the voice. That defeats the purpose.
Okay, I get that, I replied. But why is it so suspenseful?
What you don't like suspense and drama?
Well...yeah, I like it, but still...
Oh, forget it.
I can't.
Why didn't you stop me?
Stop you? I inspired you!
Oh. Right. Can you give me a hint? Thumbs up or down?
Are you asking for my opinion?
You need a lifetime of work.
What does that mean? It's bad?
You realize this is ego driven, don't you?
Yeah, you need to quite lettin' your ego get you all riled up.
You didn't answer my question.
Yes I did.
Who inspired you to make that leap?
Ohh. Sorry...and...thanks.
'Salright. You're new at this.

I hiyt the refresh button again, and finally, the comments appeared. it? I was in shock. A good shock.
Yes, they do, said the voice, smiling.
Oh my God! That is so cool! Thank you!
You're welcome. Now get started on another chapter.

Tommy James and the Shondells
Sweet Cherry Wine (Alterated by me)

Come on everyone we gotta get together now
Oh yeah, love's the only thing that matters anyhow
And the beauty of life can only survive
If we love one another

Oh yeah yesterday my friends were marching out to war
Oh yeah listen now we'll keep a marching evermore
Yeah we are gonna fight
Now God sure has the right
To decide who's to live and die

He gave us sweet cherry wine
so very fine
Drink it right down, pass it all around
So stimulating, so intoxicating
Sweet cherry wine
To open your mind
And everybody's gonna feel so fine
Drinking sweet cherry wine
Yes they will

Watch the mountain turn
To dust and glow away
Oh Lord, you know there's got to be a better way
And the old masquerade is a no soul parade
Marchin' through the ruins of time
To save us He gave us sweet cherry wine

Sweet cherry wine, so very fine
Drink it right down
Pass it all around
So stimulating, so intoxicating

Sweet cherry wine
Drink it with your brother
Trust in one another, yeah, yeah
He gave us sweet cherry wine
Sweet cherry wine
Drink it right down
Pass it all around
People don't you know the cup is running over
Sweet cherry wine

Come Sail Away

I'm sailing away, set an open course for the virgin sea
'Cause I've got to be free, free to face the life that's ahead of me
On board I'm the captain so climb aboard
We'll search for tomorrow, on every shore
And I'll try oh Lord I'll try, to carry on

I look to the sea, reflections in the waves spark my memory
Some happy some sad
I think of childhood friends, and the dreams we had
We live happily forever, so the story goes
But somehow we missed out, on that pot of gold
But we'll try best that we can, to carry on

A gathering of angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said
They said come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me

I thought that they were angels but to my surprise
They climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies
Singing come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me


julie said...

That's funny - Shrinkwrapped was my gateway psych, too, although it must have been quite a while after you traveled that road, Ben.

" it? I was in shock. A good shock.
Yes, they do, said the voice, smiling."


In case I forget later this week, Merry Christmas, Ben and Patti!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thus ends the epic. I will, of course, keep writin' stories.

In fact, my next one is a work of fiction, at the request of Walt.
Kung Fu Noir.
I'll try not to embarass myself too much. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Julie!
Merry Christmas to you and DH!

You went through SW too? Cool!
Coincidence? I think naught. :^)

walt said...

" it? I was in shock. A good shock.
Yes, they do, said the voice..."

Let's get serious, here: you've noticed the cycling thingy, obviously:

O ----> Ben ----> O

It's the same thing with "gratitude," and the "need" to express it. Say you are given a gift (O--->Ben). You receive it. But it's not complete till you say "Thank You" (Ben--->O). Same thing with the "audience."

Even the greatest comedian doesn't know whether he's funny or not without an audience.

Of course, talent should please itself first, and be true to its own art (soul). But it is the response from the audience, the relationship with the audience, that provides the force necessary to continue the creative process (see "cycling thingy," above).

Now, about the Kung Fu Noir: after yer story makes Sensei a household name, I wuz thinkin' we could organize a marketing scheme, and ....

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Walt,
So I'm OBenO? :^)
I like how you stressed gratitude as the key.

I used to think the Israelis were purty ungratful, spendin' 40 years in the bewilderness, but I boticed I got purty ungrateful myself after a few years in the desert.

Sure, I said thanks, but I didn't mean it most the time.

Actually, I didn't flesh out purpose as much as I wanted, but maybe that's for the best. Gotta leave some mystery in there, afterall.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Still likin' it, too!

Robin Starfish said...

That's the way faith works. You make an informed leap, but you can't gno what's on the other side, said the voice. That defeats the purpose.

That's a mouthful, Ben! Thank God you listened and acted on your faith, cuz what a Storyteller you are. There are many who spin tales but few who can recollect the Story.

O -> B -> O...isn't that a refrain from Wizard of Oz?

Mizz E said...

Ben, Your phrase "Spellbound to Truth" aptly, powerfully describes how irresistible His purposes are and can manifest when we surrender our sorry selves to Grace.

I'm definitely looking forward to Kung Fu Noir.
Why do I have a hunch Skully will inspire some of the characters?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Joan!
I reckon this means I better keep writin' my graphic naval.

Robin Starfish said...

BTW, every epic needs a slammin' final chapter, and this did it with both barrels.

Kung Fu Noir - git 'er done! Hungry kits out here in the snow.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Much obliged, Robin!
I try to avoid spinning 'cause it makes me dizzy. Besides, recollectin' just fits better. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Mizz E!
Aye, irresistable is right. And very comforting...except when God says "I always wanted to try this, are you ready?" :^)

Yes, Skully is gonna have an "influence" in that story.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Robin!
I was usin' slugs too.

This is gonna be interesting, since I never wrote any fiction.
Well, some of the evals I wrote were somewhat fictitious but they were good guys, so, you know.

jwm said...

You're a Good man with a great story, Ben.
And a Great man with a Good story as well.
Merry Christmas to you and Patty.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey John!
Thanks, man! Merry Christmas to you and your wife as well!
It's my fervent hope this is the bestest Christmas for all the Raccoon dojo!

Sal said...

If we looked in the dictionary under "Honesty", I think we might find your picture.
I don't think you'll ever know how much your story of courage under fire has meant to people- the Web is a mysterious place, who knows who reads you?- but you know it has meant a lot to all of us, from the first snippets at OC to now.
Thank you, and may you and dear Patti have a wonderful, blessed Christmas!

mushroom said...

God bless you, Ben. Once again I am astounded by your honesty and courage. I am looking forward to "Enter the Maltese Dragon" -- Bruce Lee meets Sam Spade sounds like a winner.

jwm said...

Ben, and Patti:
I was listening to this old favorite of mine, and I thought of you two.
The Seekers

This song just realigns my perspective from time to time. Gets me all misty, too.

John M

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Sal!
Thanks! With honest Raccoons like you to know how could I not be honest as well? :^)

This definitely ain't fate, that much I gno.

Destiny, destiny, no escapin' Destiny! :^)

Okay, I could escape Destiny, but fate really sucks, so I choose to follow Destiny, which rocks!

Merry Christmas Sal to you n' yer family!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Mushroom! 'Sup Bro?
Thank you! You gno, I don't feel courageous, but I reckon we ain't supposed to 'cause of ego n' stuff.
It does feel right though. :^)

"Enter the Malteuse Dragon" ha ha!
Methinks that you oughta be writin' one too! You can't go wrong with Bogie n' Bruce!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi John!
Thanks, pal! I love that song and so does Patti!

You sure are right about the mistyness too. :^)

Gecko said...

Substantial faith, Ben, that's what you have demonstrated. Thank you for sharing your voyage and a very Merry Christmas to you and Patti.

Bob said...

Merry Christmas to you and Patti, Ben. I share your appreciaton and respect for the raccoons.

Van said...

"But I always felt compelled to come back. Who in the hell is Petey?"

Heh! I resembled that remark!

" it? I was in shock. A good shock.
Yes, they do, said the voice, smiling.
Oh my God! That is so cool! Thank you!"

nO, thank you Ben!

♫ ♪ ♬ "Come sail away with me..." ♬ ♪ ♫

Do Tell!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas Ben & Patti!

Mark Twain apparently said you shouldn't use exclamation points, and after due consideration, I reply to him thusly:

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Gecko!
Thanks! It's been quite a journey...thus far.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Bob!
Thanks! Destiny sure has a sense of humor.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Van!
You gno, I have been tryin' to cut down on ! points, but it ain't easy, bein' an ! junky an all!

Sometimes I really need my fix, er, my point, y'gno?! :^)

Ricky Raccoon said...

That was a lot to take in.
I can’t find the words…something like, well, I’m finding it hard to imagine you having not written about your illness. Still not right. There was no stopping it. That’s not it. The “writing about it” was meant to be, at some point only half up to you. Maybe a lot less than half. So I think it just seems as if it always “was”. The writing of it was going to happen…was going “to be given” and it wasn’t entirely up to you.
It reminds me of a couple of events in my own life where I was absolutely convinced I could not do them…I mean at the last second before I had to do them (or not) I was completely incapacitated. The events were big to me - a life changer was one of them, so maybe all of them. Not the point, I’m talking about that “switch” that happened that I don’t remember throwing. Sort of watched myself throw it, with someone else’s push behind it had to have been. So it was thrown. Thank God. I wasn’t alone that's for certain.
Thanks Ben for allowing it to be given.

Happy New Year to you and Patti.

jwm said...

A happy New Year to you Ben, and Patti.
(Or as the moonbats say:
Happy obahopenchange year, O-brother.)

All goofing aside.
Let's pray that '09 is a year of abundance, joy, and Divine Slack for Coons, and lean hard times for demons and parasites.

John M.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Rick!
Thanks, bro! You gno, I cooncur!
I sense, and feel Destiny draggin' me along for one helluva Heavenly ride. :^)

It's amazin' what He can do in our lives. Sort of like when you are in the zOne you can't miss, 'cause Destiny is guiding you.

What a blessing that is!
And what a mystery to explore...

Happy New Year Rick, to you and your family!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey John!
Thanks! My sentiments exactly!
Abundance, joy and slack, the Raccoon trifecta!

Happy New Year, John, to you n' your family!
God bless you!

julie said...

Happy Gnew Year, Ben & Patti! May the grog flow freely, the waters flow only when and where they're supposed to, and the stories flow as from the proverbial fire hydrant!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hiya Julie!
Happy New Years Pal!
Grog n' water go together I sea. :^)

Robin Starfish said...

Happy Canoe Year, Ben'n Patti! Actually, lets not have any canoes this year, ok? You had enough high water last year to last 99 more.

Nevertheless, here's to full sails and a steady breeze in '09!