Tag Archives: doubt

V is for Valor

“Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.” (Carl Sandburg)

Note: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD (and other past stress) which has become part of our ethos or basic belief system. April aspires to Faith.

Every defect of my character that I have had the courage to face has had the stench of fear. Every moral indecision, every ethical dilemma, every regretted omission or transgression, has always been traceable back to a hidden fear, a fear I had kept even from myself.

Every shadow of resentment, every rick of rage, every shock of angst or anger, has always left tracks back to some fear.

Fear is not the culprit; my choice in each and every case, that is the culprit. Fear is not the cause, but it is the impetus. To yield to fear is the coward’s surrender.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.” (Kahil Gibran)

The pain of doubt is the great fear of the human heart. We ignore it, poison it, deny it, hide it and from it, but we seldom face it. For the sincere heart, this is a great dilemma: Shall I admit the frailties of my doubt and concede cowardice, or shall I deny my pain and concede conceit of the false hero?

No. Dichotomies are the false reasoning of a fearful heart. There is another way. What is it?

Perhaps valor is a gift I do not deserve.

No. Life is not a contest we win or lose. Competitive culture is the false affect of a fearful heart. There are enough gifts for all of us and deserving is not a factor. Willingness is.

Am I willing to accept valor? Am I willing to accept the consequences of valor?

I wonder this: Where shall I carry this gift called valor if my satchel is full of the treasures of my fears and resentments? How shall I accept a gift of valor if my hands are full of the denials of my doubts?

Would you like freedom from doubt?

“Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.” (Luther Standing Bear Oglala Sioux)

It is a culmination of my observations of humanity past and present that all human demise, including the collapse of great cultures before history, has always been a direct result of man relying on the magic of man, the technologies of the times and the illusions of power in those technologies.

Life is no illusion. The Native American way of life, like so many aboriginal peoples’, remains faithful to the laws governing water and air, light and darkness, bear and cricket, and the Faith and fear of human existence. I find comfort in these laws for no person or group has the power to change them. The laws of Nature are immutable and unavoidable. All else is illusion.

Inside you, deep down at the bottom of your satchel of treasures, beneath your collection of fears and resentments, do you find tracks of valor rooted in Faith?

Happy Tracking!

Shadow Love

“Who am I now that I have killed?”

Then, one day, I could no longer feel the innocence, optimism, idealism, and moral certitude of youth—ever, again. Something inside me had died.

Reminder: This blog series is dedicated to love, the various kinds of love beyond the romantic and erotic that support personal growth and healing, especially the healing of invisible wounds from Combat PTSD.

I did not know this, of course, at a conscious level for another forty years. But here is a hard reality. The behavior of our lives is not simply a product of our conscious thoughts. We live our feelings.

The real question is not the one above, but, “Who can love me now that I have killed?”

We are hard to love. Combat Veterans become hard for others to love and I believe that is largely a response not to who we are or have become but to who we feel we are. We believe we have become unlovable, and so we act unlovable.

Add to this the involuntary actions of our fight/flight response to vulnerability, and we can see our own unlovable behaviors. The older we get, the harder it is to deny our vulnerability. We know trouble and pain. We know war and more war—a new one every ten years or so.

War on drugs, war on terror, war on liberty, war, war, war.

Sometimes the darkness we perceive is but our own shadow. Because we have turned our faces away from the light. We create our own darkness.

We see in others the tracks of shadows and we feel…we feel almost kinship. Here is a brother or sister. Our subconscious knows. We share each other’s shadows and feel less lonely. Almost worthy of love. Almost.

The problem becomes the shadow we share. What else do we share?

Not only are we hard to love, but we are not so good at loving, anymore.

Some of us, the lucky ones, have found someone who reminds us to turn around. There are people among us who perceive our shadows but are able to face the light. They have touched the great sadness of moral doubt and retained the ability to allow the light to shine through them. We see the light in their eyes, then through their eyes.

When one of them loves us, we begin to recover. Sometimes we even turn around.