I want to be the hurricane.

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“I have been so violently uprooted and plunged so deeply into a job too big for me, that everything feels unreal. I have dropped everything I ever did, and live only as a thief of opportunity, snatching chances of the moment when and where I see them… It’s a kind of foreign stage on which one plays day and night, in fancy dress, in a strange language, with the price of failure on one’s head if the part is not well filled.” – T.E. Lawrence

* * *

I startle awake in the middle of the night, bolting upright in my bed. I’m sweating heavily. I can’t seem to breathe. Am I okay? It takes me a moment, but my heart begins to slow and I finally get air back in my lungs. I’m terrified, but of what, I’m not even sure. I get up, walking through my house to check the closets, doors, and locks – yes, I open the door to each closet and look inside, my childhood fears of monsters resurrecting – reminding myself that it’s all in my head. After making my way through the entire place and back to my bedroom, I lie back down, trying to relax, and wait to fall back asleep. I need to make it to the morning.

I wake up a few hours later and walk to my kitchen, pouring myself a cold brew before I head into my front room and deposit myself at my desk. I turn and stare up at the giant whiteboard I’ve put up on my wall, covered in the scribbling of projects old and new. It measures almost ten feet across, and half as high, and to the unknowing eye might appear as the markings of a mad man – chicken scratch with no definition, words without order, and acronyms without meaning. But, that is not the case. It is the notes and plans that guide my life, the dreams and goals of my every day to day.

Inside my head is a hurricane, wild winds pushing thoughts like debris, from which I must pluck and pull in order to find a clear path forward. I didn’t sleep well last night, which lately seems to be more of a habit than a rarity. Knowing already that I will be tired by midday, I take a moment to think about tasks that must be handled quickly so I know where my day must start. It’s become a game of inches; the smallest bits of forward movement are valuable. 

I wish I had a secret rulebook to life. Something I could open up and go through whenever I feel a sense of panic. I would use it countless times. How to take on a monumental task with little to no resources, and be successful? I wish it had that chapter in it. I think it would be my favorite. 

I look to history and someone like TE Lawrence and find an understanding in his multiple meanings, his quiet recollections, and his avoidances of full clarification. How can you explain something so layered? How can you describe moments to someone who really is not paying attention to the parts that matter? I have been asked so often about things, and then as I respond I realize the truthful answers, the ones that are often opaque and really difficult, are not the answers that they have decided they want. Before finishing, I realize they want 140 characters or less. They want bullet points, they want Twitter, they want nice and easy. 

Big, huge, overwhelming issues are not the ones that people want to discuss. Issues that remind us how human we are do not score well. When we are reminded how complex the world is, and how painful history is, and how evil mankind can be, we pull back. We want to find a boogie-man, we want to find a scapegoat. We don’t want to carry any responsibility, because then we may actually have to carry some blame as well. In theory that doesn’t seem so difficult, but in practice, I’ve rarely seen it done. People don’t want to pick up the torch on a 20-year policy battle. That is too much commitment. They want a hashtag and a march, and tomorrow, they want to go back to simple things like how much they love shopping at Target. And, I can totally understand why that is appealing, but appealing as it may be, it is not for me.

I’m looking for Goliath. 

I don’t want to fight the small things, pretending they’re the big ones. I want more than that. I want to pick the issues that keep me up through the night and don’t let me sleep. The battles that seem impossible to almost everyone, the ones that seem unwinnable. I don’t want to quiet the hurricane; I want to celebrate it. I want to walk into the eye of the storm screaming loudly, with fire in my eyes, and a bat in my hand, calling out Goliath and giving him everything I’ve got. I refuse to go lightly. I refuse to be a victim to my own insecurities. I will carry on. No. Matter. What. 

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What is your favorite place? Mine is on the third floor.

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San Diego State University, located in beautiful southern California, like most other big universities, has a giant library. It sits at the center of their campus, only accessible to the normal person by foot, right near the central food court. As you enter, you pass through glass doors before seeing a set of elevators that can take you up to any of its many floors. If you’re ever in the area, I suggest you stop by and give it a look for yourself. If you do, let me know what your favorite part is. Mine is on the third floor.

When I was 19 and 20, I would sleep there during the day. You see; I couldn’t sleep at night, not with how cold it was outside. I had to keep moving, keep walking, just continually smoking cigarettes. I would ask for change from strangers to get a 99¢ tall-can of Steel Reserve to help take off the edge and give me a bit of warmth. The cigarettes, most of them would be half smoked ‘re-fried’ ones that I would pull out of ashtrays I’d found in businesses smoking areas. I had my entire routine, in both the night and the day.

I would make my way to the back corner on the third floor, grabbing a few big books as I walked through the aisles headed toward the desks they had tucked in the back. I’d pull the books from the same section, that way it would be easy for any passerby to instantly recognize what I was ‘cramming’ for. As I got to the desk, I would open the books to similar chapters as if that was the exact part I was studying; it had to be self-explanatory. It had to be. I couldn’t risk losing the safest place I had to sleep. It was the only spot I had where I could disappear for a few hours in total safety. 

After opening the books, and laying them out just right, I would then take a few of the chairs and push them next to each other, this way I could tip over on my side and get comfortable so I could partially lie down. Then, when I had the scene set up perfectly, I would softly close my eyes and drift off to sleep. If anyone asked, I would say I was cramming for a big test all-night and just dozed off. I couldn’t help it I’d say; I was just another college kid working hard to pass the big test.

I did this off and on for over a year, and it must’ve worked, because no one ever bothered me, questioned me, or woke me up. I like to think it was because I had them fooled, but for all I know, there was a librarian there who knew exactly what I was – a homeless kid who wanted nothing more than a little space to sleep, and the safety to do it. I didn’t go to the university, but I kept my few pieces of clothing – and the canned food I got from the church down the street – tucked away behind a dumpster a few blocks from the campus. On some nights, I would lie behind that same dumpster, with a shirt wrapped around a rock I used as a pillow, and just sleep there. But, I would never get the good safety type of sleep behind the dumpster, it wasn’t anywhere near the feeling of those desks in that back corner.

I think about that library often. One day I will go back there and see if the same desks, and the same chairs are in the same spot – next to the same books. I wonder; is there another abandoned kid who finds shelter in there today? Is there another broken soul that a librarian looks after without anyone ever knowing?  I hope not. I hope the kid can find a real home to sleep in, a real place to be safe to be. That would be so much better.  

I am on a mission to save the world.

          I am on a mission to save the world. I really am. I don’t mean I am going to solve all of the problems in a weekend, or even in a lifetime. But I am going to try and create as much positive impact as I possibly can. And maybe, just maybe, help save the world for one or two (or a thousand) people.

          As I sat around on 4th of July answering text messages from friends seeing which party I would go to, getting emails from my mom asking if I would be BBQing with my friends to celebrate the independence that so many of us take for granted, it was hard for me to explain to them that I was actually not thinking about either one of those options. I was researching flights and costs to get myself and a film crew to North Africa in the fall. I am going to Tindouf refugee camp in Algeria. I am not exactly sure what I’ll be doing when I get there, but that is not always the point. How can I know what they need before I talk to them? How can I create impact without getting knowledge and experience, then trying to find out what resources and relationships I have that might help? I can’t. So I must start at the beginning.

          I must engage.

          I never thought this is what I would be doing on a 4th of July. I never thought I would grow up and want to save the world. When I was younger I just wanted to play music and drive a fancy car. I wanted to be rich and famous and travel the globe and just play. And now here I am, preparing to go sleep in a hut for 3 weeks in order to gain some knowledge, and hopefully, help some people that will most likely never know me or see me or have any idea that I ever even existed. What happened? When did my goals change, and why? I wish I had an answer for this, I don’t. I just know that I am happier now than I have ever been. I have found something to believe in and something to aspire to. I believe in us. I believe in people. I believe in coming together to help the collective, the greater good.

          I turn on the TV and see a reality star turned president tweeting and TMZ in the primetime. My friends and colleagues, many of them can tell me the names of quarterbacks on sports teams we support for leisure, and resort destinations in the Bahamas, but I wonder can any of them name a single refugee camp? Even more bothersome to me, is that I couldn’t tell you a single one by name until recently. What took me so long to find out? According to the most recent data provided by the UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency) from June of 2017, there are over 65 million people that have been forced from their homes, over 22 million of them now live in a refugee camp. These numbers are staggering. And of those 65 million, only 189 thousand have been able to be resettled. That is less than .003% of them. Think of that, take that in, remember that as we look at our country, and our generation, and the fact that all we can seem to talk about is a bigoted president’s Tweets.

          When the tide of history washes over us, what side do you want to be on? I want to be on the side that helps create a world that is better for all of us, not just the ones that are born in rich countries. When you celebrate holidays like the 4th of July, let’s not forget those in countries that cannot celebrate anything, places where women cannot vote, or drive, or go to school. Let’s not forget about child soldiers, and modern day slavery and human trafficking. Let’s not forget that all change, big or small, begins with a conversation and a shared belief that progress is possible. Not all change comes quickly and not all change moves slowly, but it does all begin somewhere, so why not here?

          The world is bigger than us, and we don’t need anyone except ourselves to make an impact. We just need a willingness to wake up and engage every single day. One person can change the world, and if you don’t believe that, then do me a favor and “hold my beer.”

For this and more, follow me on Facebook & Twitter: @itsdanieldart

It hasn't even been 3 years yet.

Photo: Chris Swainston

It hasn’t even been 3 years yet. As a matter of fact, it’s been exactly 30 months since I came home. Wow. It feels like it was yesterday – at the same time it’s like nothing more than a dream, one you can’t seem to put your finger on. Waking up in the middle of night, sweating and short of breath, you swear it was real, only to find yourself lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling.

I still don’t feel like I’m safe. I still find myself having mild panic attacks, all alone in the middle of a crowded room. I find myself reminiscing about the ‘yard’ and the fellas on it. I find myself both lost and renewed at the same time.

When I was first in LA County Jail almost 6 years ago, an older inmate described to me the hardest thing for him accept about himself, was that after spending years in prison earlier in life, he came to the realization that some of the best times in his life were behind bars. He told me that when he looked back on his life, he looked at some of those times so fondly that he’d sometimes wish he could go back there to live them again for the first time. To appreciate them for the great times they were. I never thought I’d ever be able to relate to this on a level where I might agree. In this, as well as many other things in life, I was wrong. He was right – sometimes I too miss the times on the yard.

I don’t look back on my life as I thought I would when I was a child. Reflecting on my accomplishments and my achievements, it is not the awards I am most proud of. It is my ability to get beaten up – emotionally, physically, and mentally – and still hold my chin up high that I’m most proud of. I sure can take a hit. I can withstand a beating. I’m not made of glass.

This is what I get the most courage and power from. When I get anxious and nervous, when I second guess myself and think I simply cannot go on. When I stop and think of how badly I have been beaten and ravaged, and how I’m still here. How I am still breathing and trying, fighting and scraping. I am proud of myself. I have not lost hope. I sure can take a hit.

I still search for tomorrow. I still search for love. I still search for happiness – for so many things that I find fleeting. I search for something better, running from something worse. I search high and low for something wonderful. Some days I do it with a smile on my face and some days with a frown, but I do it everyday. That’s why I’m proud of who I am today. I have not given up.

I sit here in my apartment – typing and thinking – utterly at peace. I have exactly what I have been searching for tonight. I hope you too can say the same. I want you to be happy. I want you to find peace, and I want you to find love.

Life is the journey; love the destination.

I hope we both find our way there.  You’re not made of glass either.

 

Hello there, old friend.

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“And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

            As I was walking along Spring St in downtown Los Angeles last week an old man whispered to me as I passed by an alley.

            “Daniel...” He said.

            “Excuse me?” was all I thought to say. It caught me off guard, this man that knew me by name.

            He stepped out of the shadows, and staring me up and down, took in every inch of me as man might while inspecting a vehicle before purchasing. I was stuck in my tracks; something was holding me there. I couldn’t seem to move. He was dressed impeccably, in a dark suit like he’d come from a black tie event, and he was oddly familiar, but I couldn’t seem to place where we’d met. I swore when I first noticed him I thought he was in rags, but I was mistaken, or he had changed before my eyes. What is going on?

            “Can I help you?” I asked.

            “Ha! You can’t even help yourself boy!” He snapped back at me in a playful way. Still staring intently, “so this is what I look like huh? I don’t remember being so jumpy.”

            What is he talking about? Why is he saying; ‘this is what I look like?’         

            “Do I know you?” I feel as though I do. As I ask the question, my voice seems fragile, my confidence waivers. I feel a bit dizzy.

            “You sure you don’t know me?” He laughs, “of course you know me kid, I’m you.”

            “You’re me?” What is this guy talking about?

            “Yup. Take a look at me, this is you 40 years from now.”

            “What the fuck?” I snap back to the moment as shivers shoot up my spine. This cannot be.

            “Ha! Much better! That’s the kid I remember.” His eyes take me in as I’ve never been taken in before. He stares at every inch, every nook, and every wrinkle. I now see that the resemblance is uncanny. It really is me. I don’t understand.

            “Don’t question it too much man, it won’t make sense to you why I’m here, and I only have a short time, so let’s talk.” He seems to have known exactly what I was thinking, that this couldn’t be real. He speaks to me in a way that instantly makes drop my guard and feel comfortable. This can’t be real. I must be dreaming.

            “Ok. What are you doing here then? Or…ummm… what am I doing here?”

            “There we go. Now that’s what I was hoping you’d ask. And the answer is I’m here to talk to you of course. About you, about me, about us.” He laughs out loud at this last line as if it’s the joke of the century. I can’t help but join him. I wonder what someone watching this exchange might think.

            “I am here to tell you, don’t give up.” He waits a beat, “I know you’re having a rough time right now, and I came back to tell you that it gets better. Don’t give up.” As he says this, the breath rushes out of me. I feel as though a thousand pound weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and before I realize it, I can feel tears running down my face. I reach up to wipe them off, embarrassed by my sudden breaking of male protocol. The lie we’ve been taught since childhood that we must be tough, impenetrable, and stoic.

            “It’s okay man.” He says softly, as he sets his hand on my shoulder. “I know it feels impossible right now. That’s why I came back to find you.

            “It’s been 40 years since I was in your shoes,” he continues, “and even now it still hurts a bit to look back and remember the path you’re going to walk. It’s not easy. I remember feeling as though my skin was peeling from my bones and my stomach was eating itself, I felt hollow sometimes. So many sleepless nights, filled with anguish and anxiety, followed by even more difficult mornings. But I am here to tell you that it does get better.”

            I am full on crying now, tears that feel like they’ve been held my entire life come flowing freely down my cheeks. Snot runs from my nose into my beard as I cry. I begin laughing. Laughing for a reason I do not know, laughing at how funny I must look, laughing at how vulnerable I feel. It feels so good to cry.

            “I just don’t understand” I begin to say, before crying again takes me. He looks at me with understanding, waiting for me to continue. “I feel tense all of the time. I just can’t seem to relax. It’s like I’m dragging around a ball and chain wherever I go, carrying this cloud above me. My brain won’t turn off; it just keeps spinning. I can’t seem to rebound from prison, or fix my credit, or just feel stable – at all.” The last part was half English and half sobbing gibberish.

            “I know.” He says softly, “I know.” He speaks with more love then I’ve ever known. “And I know you might not believe me right now, but I promise you Daniel, it will get better. Do not give up.”

            “Of all the things I talk about with my future self.” I’m laughing now at the irony, but the tears have stopped. “It’s like, here I am with my future self; I can talk about anything. What are some good stock tips? What are some sports scores I should bet on? What happens in my future? And all I can do is break down and cry, typical.” He is laughing now too.

            “We always were sensitive weren’t we?” He smiles. “Those things you’re talking about are unimportant. Trust this old man when I say that. All of the greatest things in life, you can’t buy with money. You already have the right idea, I promise you. Just keep doing what you’re doing - working hard, helping other people – and everything else will work itself out.”

            “Thanks.” I stammered out. Before asking, “so you came back 40 years just to tell me that ‘everything will be okay’ and that I shouldn’t give up?”

            He stands up extra straight, before again leaning in, even closer to meet my eyes with an intensity that is almost frightening. He wants to be sure he has my full attention, which he does.

            “Yes. I came back 40 years to tell you that the most difficult obstacle you’ll ever have to overcome is yourself. And I know that some days you’ll feel like it’s impossible to do, but I’m telling you, it’s not. You will overcome, and you will be okay.” As he says this last line, I know he’s telling the truth. I’ve known all along. I have always known this. I just needed to be reminded.

            “Okay.” I say.

            “You good?” He asks? I can tell it’s his time to go.

            “Yeah.” I say, nodding. “I’m good.”

            “Good, then I’ll go back where I belong. I’ll see you again before you know it. And remember to enjoy the ride, okay? The next 40 years are going to fly by. And there are going to be some really, really hard times, but you will get through them. You’re going to be okay man. You’re going to get more in life than you ever could’ve dreamt, I know because I’ve lived it. So remember to breathe, and I’ll see you soon ok?” And with this, he turns and walks back into the alley.

            “40 years isn’t that soon!” I call after him.

            “It’s like this.” He says as he holds up his hand and snaps his fingers loudly, before disappearing into the shadows. Like he was never even there.

 

Tomorrow could change everything.

            I woke up this morning and went for a run. Heading out into the light fog I needed to get out the stress that’s crept into my shoulders and neck lately. I’ve been lying awake – restless -  wondering what the answers are. How can I make the world a better place? How can I navigate without a map? Should I chart my own course? I’m always thinking – obsessing -  which is why this morning I ran twice as hard.

            My legs began to burn and my lungs were on fire as I pushed harder. I was floating in the sky looking down on myself as I came around the final corner and sprinted back down Western Ave. I had to let it go, let the energy out. I had to tire my demons out before I began work for the day. I wish you could see all the hard work I’m doing.

            I wonder if this is my only life. As I showered I wondered if I would ever get another chance to do things again. I know I won’t but nonetheless my mind tried to figure out how I would do things better next time. I would study more in high school. I might not get as many tattoos. Who am I kidding? I probably wouldn’t change a thing. This is what worries me, and at the same time makes me smile. I love the contradiction I see in myself - and in everyone else too. I love it because it’s what makes us so undeniably human – our inability to use logic when it comes to matters of the heart. We must put our hand on the hot stove – again and again.

            I know tomorrow could change everything. The phone could ring. Her voice could come through the line, “hello?” Everything could change. I hope everyday. Tomorrow could change everything. It is the most powerful word in the world, “Hello.” It is the word that begins it all. It is the beginning. We know that before we ever reach a destination we must first leave the last. We must first begin.

            “Hello?” She answers, knowing it’s me.

            I remember her voice. The thought of it makes me smile. “Hello” I say out loud, to no one but myself. I find myself smiling. This is why I run. Memories of yesterday carry us through today. Bad memories remind us to do well. Sad memories remind us why we left. Good memories remind us why we smile. And new memories are the goal we keep chasing. I will run tomorrow.

            I sit down at my desk tonight. I finished my day. I worked on multiple projects, feel good, wishing I could take snap shot my day and present it to you like a gift. I open my computer and decide I need to write something. Write something for you. It is my pact; my promise. Not to you, but to myself.

            I turn up my music and close my eyes. I breathe deep. I hear the traffic outside my window. I wonder where all the cars are going. Do their drivers write for someone too? I bet they do. I know they do. We all write for someone.  I breathe deep again and start to think about tomorrow. What do I have to do? What things will take priority? Where should I begin? But I know exactly where I will begin…

            I will begin with a run for her.

 

 

 

For me the glass is never half full… OR empty.

I can’t do the philosophical things that some people can. It’s just not how my brain works. I search for more than “questions.” I search for answers. I search for formulas.

I know when people ask if the glass is half full or half empty, they’re usually asking in rhetorical fashion, I understand this. But to me, this has always been a literal question. I have never liked asking questions just for the purpose of asking questions; to me the goal has always been the answers. The destination. I never get lost in the journey, although I do enjoy it, I enjoy the journey because I'm headed to the destination, because I have purpose and meaning.

So when I'm asked about a glass of water, I break it down like arithmetic. If the glass started full, then you drank from it or poured out half… then it is half empty, because it is now less than the original amount. But if the opposite is the case, and you filled it, and it only made it to halfway and have yet to take any from it, then to me, it is half full. This is how I break it down, how I find logic in the question. I can take it many steps further and explain to you why I believe my reasoning is sound, but to most folks, it just gets a little too serious. They explain to me this is not the point of the question. The question isn’t a serious question, but a question for "questions sake." They explain that it’s the process of questioning things that is the answer in itself, but for me, that just doesn’t work.

This is not the easiest way to be. It's why I find myself so often disconnected from others. They want to just play it by ear. I can’t, or shall I say, I don’t know how. I need some sort of guidelines. I need some sort of structure, even if it’s no structure at all. If you tell me there are no rules, then stick to that. I don’t do well with inconsistency… because I have found that few people really have matching understandings of what “go with the flow” means. What usually happens is I try to go along with the “flow” only to cross an imaginary boundary that I didn’t know existed. I end up offending people and then am told I should feel guilty for breaking these nonexistent rules.

 I over share; I’m told that’s a bad thing.

I want to be a man of action. I value actions so much more than words. Maybe I should tell people, “Don’t listen to what I say; watch what I do.” I might be better off. Because sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to tell you what I think, because what I think might not be “approved,’’ it is too “sensitive.” But I don’t think seeking answers should be something that makes people feel uncomfortable. I think we should all aspire to better understanding, better clarity. My life is valuable, and so is my time. I have so many things I want to achieve. I have so many worries, and offending people over petty misunderstandings is not something I want to spend my time with. I want to worry about the big things.

I want to have a bigger purpose - this is why I’m always seeking answers. I want to find a way to improve the lives of all those around me. I’m living for me and for you - for all of us. For the children we haven’t had yet - for their children too. I need to make a plan for this, and I need answers. I do not have the time to just sit around and question things, I must find out which questions need answers; then find out how we’re going to answer those questions.

I do not need to know what “one hand clapping” sounds like. That is something someone else can think about. It does need feed the poor, nor clothe the needy. And it reminds me of the first question which sparked this piece: the glass full of water. And for me it comes down to this… I do not care if your glass of water is half full or half empty; all I care about is that the water is clean, and accessible to all. So next time someone asks you, I hope you say the same thing. Instead of questioning whether it’s full or empty, we question why everyone doesn’t have a glass? (I promise I’ll go with the flow if it helps us answer that question.)

Written by: Daniel Dart

The sound of my heartbeat.

I think my heart might beat right through my chest…

BOOM – BOOM – BOOM

My legs can’t carry me any faster. I’m pushing myself harder than I ever have before. But why? It’s like my mind has no control over my body, my legs. I’m running.

I’m in the desert somewhere but am not sure where. It is like an old roadrunner cartoon. I’m racing. Something is chasing me. As it gets closer and closer, I’m getting closer and closer to the edge.

I can see the cliff on the horizon, 30 feet away…20 feet…10 feet…

I jump. I actually fucking jumped. What the fuck am I thinking! I just fucking jumped.

BOOM – BOOM – BOOM

I think my heart is going to rip right through my skin.

I am falling through the air, falling fast towards the valley below. My eyes are watering as I scream through the air, yanked down by gravity – a force I can’t control. I am going to die. There is no way I am going to live through this. I can’t believe I actually jumped. What the fuck was I thinking?

The ground is coming fast, I close my eyes and brace for impact…

Awake. Bolting up in my bed, I am soaked in sweat… again. I am out of breath. I look around to make sure it was only a dream. That is wasn’t real. That is was only a nightmare. I look at my phone; 3:13am. I’m still here, still alive.

But the tightness in my chest doesn’t go away. The nausea remains. She is still there. I just almost died from jumping off a cliff and the first thing I think of is her. Waking up from a nightmare, into a nightmare. I try not to think of her, but I can’t change the beat of the song. Drumming in my brain is her tempo. Bang, bang, bang. She beats in my head every single day.

She was like a song, beautiful with a magic rhythm. I want to dance to her tune every single day. I want to waltz with her in the ballroom. I want to save her from the dragon and climb the tallest of towers. I want to learn how to ride a horse, just so I can be her knight in shining armor. I’d do whatever it takes…then I would do even more.

I close my eyes. I breathe in through my nose, slow, deep, telling my subconscious everything is going to be okay. Trying to believe it’s all for the best. The future has something mighty in store for me. I breathe. The moment passes. I breathe. I slowly remember I’m an eternal optimist. I slowly remember that I do believe that things will get better. And I slowly start to relax. I feel my shoulders release the tension, my heart begins to slow and I begin to feel calm again. Because I remember, tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day, and I am not on a cliff.

 

And then I saw you...

            I didn’t know when I walked out of the house, half thinking I should’ve stayed in, it would turn out the way it did. That I would end up laughing with my friends - talking about how hard it is to meet someone - and then, as if on cue, she’d waltz up like an actress hitting her mark.

            “Hey guys!” she said as if we we’d all been friends forever which, as it turns out, was the case. I was the odd man out; the only one that didn’t know her. In that moment, I cursed myself for not coming here more often. How could I have been in this city for so long and our paths not crossed before? I didn’t even know her name.

            She sat down at the opposite end of the table, five people between us as I returned to my conversation. A girl this beautiful must have a boyfriend. The two ends of the table felt like separate continents… she was so far away from me. How could I find the chance to speak to her? I wasn’t the only one trying to figure it out.

            She yelled down to me, “Do you have a cigarette?’’ as the person next to me was about to light his own. Without a second’s hesitation I reached out and pulled it from his mouth – we both laughed – and I replied, “as a matter of fact, yes.”

            She stood up and walked over.

            This was the best moment of the night. The moment I remembered you never know what the future has in store. You can’t predict fate.

            We spoke and laughed like old friends. She called me Danny, like only the friends I grew up with did; only the closest to me ever call me that. It was immediately comfortable. It was like we’d been waiting a long time to meet. Like two dancers at the ball, circling each other, staring at each other, waiting for chance to cut in.

            We merged together easily, into conversation and comfort, but soon found ourselves in other conversations that again distanced us. As they announced last call, it looked like we might not get a chance to say a formal goodbye. There were too many people between us and, as the place emptied, it was too quiet for me to yell. Too much attention would be drawn to me. But she had other ideas.        

            She walked toward me with a purpose, sidestepping everyone in between and firmly planted herself in front of me. She stuck out her hand, while giving me the most wonderful smile I’d seen in ages, “We’ve never formally met, I’m __________. It was really nice to meet you Danny… may I call you Danny?”

            I laughed to myself - and smiled to her – “Yeah, you can call me Danny. It was nice meeting you too.” As she beamed at me with eyes that held the power of the cosmos and a smile that could melt lead.

            With a look of fun and mischief she smiled one last time and said, “I hope I see you again… ” as she spun around and walked into the night.

            Now I lay in my bed, thinking of her but thinking even more about life. How things can change so quickly. How everything can change in just one brief instance. For the worse - yes, but also for the better. How on a random Friday night, when I thought I’d be in bed early, I decided to go out. And then out of nowhere… I saw her. I hope to see you again too.  In a moment, you reminded me to keep believing in a world of tomorrows, even when sometimes I can barely make it through today.

Until next time, Daniel Dart

 

            

These hands. Each scar, each tattoo... tells a story.

 photo: Kyle Topping

photo: Kyle Topping

These hands. Each scar, each tattoo... tells a story. From the initial of my former wife to the lyrics "Consoler of the Lonely" representing the hardships of tour life. All the way to the burn from the night my best friend was murdered (RIP Giao). These hands are resilient. They are determined. They do not give up. Ever.

I’ve dug ditches for money and worked on assembly lines. I have manned the window at a drive thru and spent, what seemed like endless months, telemarketing. I have slept in gutters, and on beaches. Ate out of garbage cans, and at soup kitchens. My hands are a reminder. They remind me to take things in stride. They remind me to keep things in perspective.  They remind me not to resent the bad times, because they are what make the good times great. And while circumstances have changed drastically for me in the years in between, I never forget. I look down and find peace in the chaos of my past, armed to approach my future.

The quarter-sized scar on my left hand; burned into eternity on the same night my best friend was killed. A constant reminder. I love him and miss him every single day. Even now, his death pushes me to work hard and make something of my life. It’s the best way I know how to honor his memory; it’s how I carry him with me.

Then there are the other, not so obvious correlations. There’s no physical mark but they remain indelible in my mind. Thoughts of sleeping under a stairwell in San Diego when I was 19, and the feeling of relief  having found a place I could relax away from threat, or the stares, to just lie down and take a breath. The feeling that left me long ago, but still resides in me everyday. The epitome of irony, found in the middle of all opposites.

It’s funny, usually when I write, a certain feeling inspires me to put pen to paper. After I finish, I search out a photo that I feel represents my words or captures the feelings the words inspire. But with this one, it was the exact opposite. A friend of mine, Kyle Topping, took this photo of my hands among a thousand others, and when I saw it - these hands - it kind of took my breath away. With this single image it was as though a series of snapshots fluttered through my mind. Some of them obvious, such as the initial of my ex-wife. The memory of the night I got the tattoo and then ‘poof’ as I moved on.

I see these hands, and think about my life today and how good it is…and how different it is. They encapsulate my story. It’s almost as if they are speaking to me, telling me they knew all along that we’d end up here together. That the past is just a memory and it’s time to look down the road ahead. And what a wonderful road it is…

I have opportunity like I’ve never had before, new doors that lead to possibilities I could never have imagined. I think about next week and next month and I can hardly wait. I wonder where I’ll be next year, knowing already, that it will be great. After building an entire life by “winging it,” I feel like I’ve finally begun to find my rhythm, and that is amazing.

The scars, tattoos, and stories these hands carry are so symbolic, so important to me. If we ever cross paths, feel free to take a moment and ask me about them. I would love to share their stories with you. They are the stories of my life. They’re the testament to who I was - who I am - and who I’m working to be.

I am your humble servant, always. – Daniel Dart

Under the same sky.

She felt the sand from the beach lightly kiss her face as she walked along the waterline. It was almost midnight but she had to go for a walk, she had to breathe and get out of her head, just to think a little a bit. She needed to go for a walk. She needed a lot of walks lately. Life had been confusing her.

She thought she knew what she wanted when she was younger. She thought she had it figured out, but as she began to hit middle age she realized she didn’t have the answers she thought she did. She wasn’t even sure she was asking the right questions. She felt lost, like she chose going left at the fork in the road when she had needed to go right.

As she walked she slowly began to go back, back to yesterday, back to yesteryear. Wondering what it was that brought her here, how was the question she needed to answer. How had she been wrong all along? Was it a test of the universe?

She found her thoughts slowly returning to him, wondering where he was right at this moment. She hadn’t looked him up in a while, but still she felt she knew him. She felt like she would always know him even if she didn’t look him up, even if she didn’t hear his voice. He was a constant. He was one of the only things she knew for sure.

Even though she no longer knew him at all.

She knew if she saw a picture of him; that he would be smiling. She knew if she spoke to him he would be in a good mood, no matter how tough a day he’d had. She knew, without a doubt, that he believed in her, even when she didn’t believe in herself. She knew he loved her, even before she loved herself.

For so many years she thought so many of her friends were more important than they turned out to be, she thought they were more important than herself. She chose them over everything, only to find they wouldn’t do the same for her. She didn’t understand who her true friends were, until the fake ones faded away. How, not all that glitters is gold, not all of her friends were really in her corner. The world has designs of it’s own.

She continued to walk thinking of these things, yet still returning to thoughts of him. Yet now she was smiling, and she began to giggle to herself.

She thought of him and what he would say to her on a night like this… that she was the sun and the moon. That she was ‘‘magic in a bottle.’’ How he would want her to know that she was perfect in all her nonsensical glory. That it’s okay to have hard days, it is okay to fall down. It is okay to fail.

His voice would sooth her, and his demeanor and eternal optimism would wash away her feelings of insecurity.

She realized she was no longer walking; she was standing on the beach just staring at the moon. The moon that was in the same sky he was under, and she felt okay. She was okay. She would go home and go to sleep, and wake up tomorrow and try again. Try to have the best day she could, because she knew the best gift she could give him, would be to do the best she could, every single day.

Maybe one day, through fate, or by design, they would come together again, and she would tell him, “I did the best I could.’’

And he would simply smile and reply, “I always knew you would.”

Will I be your one that got away?

I lie in bed, it’s late and thoughts of you crowd my mind. The day was a good one; it was productive and positive so I’m feeling content. Today was a good day. I thought of you a lot though, just like I did yesterday and like I’m sure I will tomorrow. I always think of you. It doesn’t bother me, though my friends get sad for me sometimes. It’s understandable, but the truth is, they can’t fully understand. When it comes to matters of the heart, no one else ever can. There is no instruction manual, there is no right or wrong. Only I know the way you make me feel.

Last week I was where we first met. As I left I stood on that same corner where we first spoke. I kept glancing around, hoping to see you, thinking (wishing) maybe you would just appear. I imagined how you would look. You’d look beautiful of course. Even when you woke up in the morning, with your hair in disarray, you were breathtaking.

I drift.

I wonder where life will lead us.  Will it ever lead us back together? Would you ever let our paths collide again? Or would you avoid the chance, just to prove a point? You have a pattern of denying yourself, and me, the opportunity. Would you continue to blame me for the lies and false promises of other men? Will I ever be given the chance to hold your hand – to hold you - or must I wait a decade (or whatever arbitrary timeline you set) for the honor. I would wait. Sucker.

My life is moving so quickly now. In just a brief period of time, everything is beginning to come together, to move forward at a pace I never imagined. I’m quickly becoming the “type” of guy you’re looking for. Is it enough? Will I look at my phone to see your name on my caller ID, only to be light years away from you? Maybe you are not the one who got away, maybe I am. Have you considered the possibility that I will outgrow you or maybe you’re already scared to death of that possibility? So scared that you wouldn’t even try. Well don’t be scared, because I won’t. I won’t.

I won’t walk ahead of you, or talk over you. I won’t take you for granted. I’ll be here, just like I am today, completely into you.

Or I won’t be, maybe one day you’ll wake up and realize I meant every thing I ever said, and I’ll be long gone.

I miss you, Daniel

Thank you for the dance.

What happened to you? Where did you go after the night of 30 cigarettes and 12 shots of whiskey? Did the stain of possibilities chase you out the back door into the cold New York night?

Years have come and gone, yet thoughts of you swirl around my mind like smoke. Settling on me, visible in front of me like rays of light from your grandmother’s old lamp – the one with the linen shade. You told me it reminded you of your “pa-pa.” Whatever that meant, I’m still not sure. I can see you, but there is nothing for me to grab hold of. The moment I reach out, you swirl and disappear. Poof.

It’s been a year, or two, or maybe five now – who knows anymore? Is anyone even counting? Society has changed so much…and not in a good way. Or is that just how it seems to me? People have become callus; unpleasant. Everyone walks around like the world is watching them, and them alone, like they are the main attraction. No one is real anymore. Neither are you. Were you ever real? We drew each other in, only to let each other down and then use that disappointment as an excuse to believe we were better than our counterpart. Maybe I’m just getting older and have become cynical and bitter, but I don’t think so.  Only because as I sit in front of this keyboard, I still hope…no, believe, tomorrow will be better. Sending good vibes to you and your future child - I heard you were having a baby - congratulations to you. Seriously, you will make a wonderful mother.

Will your unborn child know about your endless nights? Dancing till dawn, laughing, while drinking beer, shooting it out your nose and screaming, “it burns, it burns!” all the while laughing even harder, and smiling even bigger. Will they grow up seeing you only as their mother, never knowing the girl that was wild and crazy like a summer storm, blowing over those who stood in her way, sexy in a short skirt and fancy heels. A laugh that could shatter steel and smile that could melt lead. You truly were a girl on fire.

What about the father? Does he know the same girl I used to know? Do you love him like the sun? Does he illuminate your every day? I sure hope so. I hope he is a strong personality, able to avoid getting sucked into your 5 foot 3 black hole of giant expectations. I hope you found your match.

I wonder if we met today, would we get along? Or would we circle each other like fighters in a duel, looking for an opening to strike.  Maybe neither, and barely glance at each other as we walked by.

I am glad I can smile at the thought of you as I look back, and only hope you can do the same. You were a giant among men (although you’re a woman) and I wish you always have the sun upon your face and the wind upon your back. I hope whoever you choose to walk with always hold’s your hand, and picks you up if you stumble.

We had our moment and it was a special one. Only on reflection should I call you a former teacher instead of a former lover? That is what you were. What we were. We taught each other what to do, and what not to do. We taught each other that heartbreak is only temporary, and that the future can be better than the past ever was. We taught each other to be patient and wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow holds promise. All we gotta do is wait for it, work for it, and hold on to the special someone that it brings. We also taught each other that the perfect person won’t be perfect…but imperfection is okay.

With that my old friend, I wish you the best.  Until I see you in the echoes of my dreams, farewell.

-Dart

All I have is thank you.

          I met her one morning at around 6am. She was like an angel, although I can’t remember the details of her face or appearance. I don’t even remember her name, I just remember her as an angel. I remember the moment, the feeling, like it was yesterday. It’s funny how 20 years can feel like yesterday.

          I was sitting in a strip mall near the beach in San Diego. It was pouring rain and I was freezing cold. I was just waiting for the sun to rise up, hoping it would clear the rain and warm my bones a bit. Underneath an overhang, just waiting, freezing, shivering, and smoking cigarette butts I had pulled out of an ashtray somewhere. I had no money. Only the clothes I was wearing. I had been homeless for a few months at this point. I was just a kid trying to make his way, with no understanding of what that even meant.

          So when she asked how I was doing that morning, I told her I was doing fine. Not because I was, but because she caught me off guard. Concern for my well-being was not something that happened, ever. Sure, people would give me change sometimes, but they’d rarely glance into my eyes. If our gazes met, they’d be quick to look away, as if I was something to be ashamed of or to take pity on. I can understand why people felt this way and I never held it against them; I was almost always smiling, doing my best to carry with me a smile.

          I can’t remember what I was thinking that morning when she walked up and asked me how I was doing. When she asked if I was hungry, there was no hint of the usual judgment or pity, only compassion. She was looking at me with empathy. I could tell she genuinely cared.  I guess she was in her late 70s or early 80s. She had slight build; even though she was in the later years of her life, she carried herself with a lightness and grace that belied her age. Her hair was gray - but beautiful - and I could tell just by speaking with her, she had lived a good life. I could tell immediately she was content. Whatever happened throughout her life, she was okay with it; she owned it. It was so beautiful. She was so beautiful.       

          She asked me my name and told me hers. We spoke briefly about nothing specific - just small talk - which at that moment made me feel more human than I’d felt in months. After a few moments she pulled out some bills and handed them to me. “This is for you to eat.” I’d like to say I turned it down, that I could honestly say “I don’t need this.” But I did need it. I was famished. I looked at her and said thank you, with all the sincerity I could muster.  The entire interaction lasted only a few minutes. She walked into my life and out of it in such a brief amount of time, but since that day I have thought about her maybe a thousand times. I swore to myself that morning many years ago, that I would never forget her, and I never have. Her name was Rosie…I think.  

          I wish I knew where she was today, if she is still alive even. I would find her just to tell her thank you. I would tell her I love her, because through her compassion she showed me what love is. I would tell her that I was invited to the White House next month, and I am going. Thank you for not looking at me as another lost homeless kid, but only as a person that needed something more than food. When I go to DC next month Rosie, you and your memory will be with me (as they always are). All I can really give back to you all these years later is a thank you. 

Dear Donald, hate is NOT an American value.

We’ve all heard Trump’s promise to “Make America Great Again.” We’ve also heard, over and over again, that in order to fulfill this promise and “restore” American virtue, some people must pay the price. Whether Muslims or Mexicans, the politicians or corporations, everyone is to blame and hate is allowed. Scratch that, hate is encouraged. Hate is an American value.  

He wants you to get mad, he wants you to blame “the establishment” and he wants you to blame the people that “don’t belong.” He even goes as far to blatantly ridicule his own voter base and supporters...and they continue to turn out in droves. Why? Why do people rally around Trump in spite of their own economic, social, racial, and historical interests?  Simply put, they think he is “tough.”           

Make no mistake; Trump is not tough. He does not represent American virtue (nor is he in any position to restore it). How do I know? I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having been to prison. I was there for 3 years, so I’d like to think I know when someone is tough. I’ve seen real life “tough guys” in action. Trump wants you to believe he is one of those bold outlaw types, unafraid of a fight. But Trump is a coward. Because he punches below his weight; no real tough guy ever picks on those that can’t defend themselves. He likes to tell people they’re a “pussy” but he looks only for the easy targets. He picks on the weak and disenfranchised; he represents nothing but false bravado and blames everyone else for the countries problems.

For a bit more background, I sing in a punk band, Time Again. Over the last two decades, I have performed in more 20 countries. Despite my success, I also know something about living on the fringes. Formerly incarcerated and covered in tattoos, I don’t fit into the perfect white Anglo-Saxon Protestant America that Trump believes our country should be (or ever was), and I am proud of that. I am proud that I can pursue my dreams and goals, despite what I look like, where I come from, or what religion I practice. No matter what degree of personal success I have or will achieve, I stand for the underdog in everything I do. I don’t want success at the expense of someone else or because someone had to get “out of my way” so I could get ahead.

Now we see cities getting shut down, people being arrested, and fights breaking out at his rallies. This is disgusting. Trump supporters are trying to restore something, but it’s an abstract perversion of an America that never was.  We are NOT a white nation, and I say this as a white man.  We are NOT a Christian nation, and I say this as someone raised a Catholic. These are not the things that define America or what the Constitution protects. We are a nation of all colors, of all religions…and all nationalities. We should be fighting tooth and nail not only for Muslims to come AND stay here, but for people of all religions to come here. We should be fighting for all races and genders and people of any sexual orientation. America is a lot of things, but it is not hate. The America I know, and want restored, proclaims “hey everyone, you are all welcome here.” You are welcome here to be who you want to be, without judgment, without hate, and we will to fight with you to achieve that.  This is America.  

 

 

Trump: An Emperor with NO Clothes.

“German tanks rumble on moonlit roads outside Paris in 1940, but the city still parties like nothing is wrong." - GOP Strategist Rick Wilson

In November we'll take to the polls, voting in our first new president in 8 years. Some will vent their anger - a disaster took their homes, a foreigner took their jobs and a politician stole their future. Their vote will be "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore – enter Donald Trump.

Trump has now shown up, and similar the fictional story, "Emperor's New Clothes", he has impressed the angry masses with his own beautiful "best of everything” and “wildly great success” in everything. But in truth Trump has nothing anyone wants, and just as the emperor "had no clothes" Donald is only his own imagination.

Now the voters will give the "job creators" a good riddance statement... knowing the 1%er's are now the only ones with anything left to lose.

Wealth is now created by legislation, our laws creating advantage to those few that have access. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Big business has been given local, state and national tax advantages.  Small businesses along with a shrinking middle class are carrying a larger burden, and with all of this upon us, the Naked Emperor (Donald Trump) has come in and seized the moment.

The Republican Party is owned by the 1%, the status quo that refuses to lift minimum wages, provide affordable college or allow you to install solar.  

Elections have consequences, for 7 years votes have had no value. But once again, this November, they will.

Obstructionism cannot be categorized as maintaining status quo, it is depriving those of us that do pursue, peace, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...as stated in our "Declaration of Independence". These are our "unalienable rights". 

Lady Justice. . . should be blind. (Words from my Father.)

Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has been depicted wearing a blindfold, a sign of objectivity. Justice delivered without partiality... poor, rich, with or without fame or power.  Justice is blind... and honest.

In 1787 when leaders gathered to write the Constitution, they wanted a strong and fair national government.  They believed they could do this by having three separate branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. 

This separation is described in the first three articles, or sections, of the Constitution.

The President is the head of the executive branch. The President is elected by the "entire country" and serves a four-year term. The President approves and carries out laws passed by the legislative branch. 

The legislative branch's most important duty is to make laws.  Laws are written, discussed and voted on in Congress.

The judicial branch oversees the court system and explains the meaning of the Constitution and laws passed by Congress. The Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch.  Unlike a criminal court, the Supreme Court rules whether something is constitutional or unconstitutional — whether or not it is permitted under the Constitution.

The current battle opposing the Presidents constitutional "obligation and duty" to nominate a new Supreme Court justice is immoral.

Obstructionism in one branch stymies the other two, a three legged stool can support much, remove one leg and the stool is worthless.

Taxes are paid to support the elected government, if the government ceases to perform its duty then chaos soon follows. 

Do not underestimate the power of the people, abuse of power takes many forms and the Republican Party has overstepped.

Old saying, "I have the right to wildly swing my arms, until they touch your nose".

The obstructionism of the Republicans has touched "our" noses.

It is time they allow our President to do his job.

These are words from my Father, I hope they mean as much to you as they do to me.  - Daniel Dart

SIGN THE PETITION: TELL THE SENATE TO DO ITS JOB.

---

PS.  Here are a few landmark rulings that everyone should know, good and bad.

1803 Marbury v. Madison— Was the first time a law passed by Congress was declared unconstitutional. 

1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford—Declared that a slave was not a citizen, and that Congress could not outlaw slavery in U.S. territories.

1896 Plessy v. Ferguson—Said that racial segregation was legal.  

1954 Brown v. Board of Education—Made racial segregation in schools illegal. 

1966 Miranda v. Arizona —Stated that criminal suspects must be informed of their rights before being questioned by the police. 

1973 Roe v. Wade—Made abortion legal. 

2003 Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger—Ruled that colleges can, under certain conditions, consider race and ethnicity in admissions.

2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission The Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations on political campaigns, maintaining that it's their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose.

2013 Shelby County v. Holder The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which established a formula for Congress to use when determining if a state or voting jurisdiction requires prior approval before changing its voting laws.

The day MY earth stood still.

 Cecil Smead - Lubbock, TX (Taken while I was in California State Prison.)

Cecil Smead - Lubbock, TX (Taken while I was in California State Prison.)

I remember it like it was yesterday.  The sun coming in ever so slightly through the grated windows, showing promises of a nice bright day outside, the light tap at the foot of my bed from the guard on duty.  How I woke up with excitement yet filled with doubt at the same time.  Had something gone wrong?  Was I not going home today?  Hearing him say softly at 5:45 in the morning, “Wake up, it is time to go.”

“Go where?”  I replied with hesitation, just to be sure.

“Today is the day.” Was his answer, spoken in his soft Dominican accent.  I can’t remember his name for the life of me, but he was one of the respectable guards.  Consistent.  Such an important thing.  I never minded if they were nice, or mean, all I cared about was if they were consistent, consistent and honest.  Nothing inspires fear in a man more than a corrupt person in a position of power.  Nothing.  You never know what to expect.

“Today is the day for what?” I replied, needing him to say it.  Needing it more than anything in the world.  Needing him to be specific.  I had to hear it.  It still wasn’t real until he actually said it.  As I asked him, I noticed all around him were other inmates.  My friends, my brother’s in arms, my brother’s in despair.  All who had gotten up early to wish me farewell and send me off with love and hope.  Yet I still didn’t see them, all I saw was the guard, and all I needed to hear was his answer.

“Today you go.  It is time for you to go home.”  He replied.

As he said these words I could feel the anxiety hit my chest like a runaway train.  I still couldn’t believe it was true even though for the last 3 years I had thought about this day and ran this day through my head a million times. Was it really true?  I knew it must be true, but joy is not how prison works.  You lose a bit of faith.  A part of you dies, whether or not you ever really want to admit it.  You begin to lose trust in the everyday things because you learn how fragile and weak the world you live in really is.

“Are you sure?” was my response. 

I needed to hear it again.  It still was not real.  There was a silence like time was at a complete standstill.  There was no movement anywhere in the entire world at this exact moment.  It was like the entire universe was on pause.  All of my friends, and myself as well, just stood there, on the edge of the abyss, our entire being just hanging in the balance.

His reply was spoken softer than you can even imagine, at the lowest level a man can speak.  Not because he wasn’t emphatic, but because he was.  I have rarely ever heard words spoken with such absolute authority, sincerity and tenderness.  “Yes.  You are going home today.  I would never joke about something such as this.”

I took a breath. 

The first breath I had taken in what felt like years.

I was going home.

The dorm erupted in noise as my friends cheered like fans at a concert.  People were slapping backs and giving high fives.  They were yelling and whistling and singing.  Asking me what was the first thing I was going eat.  Telling me to get some pussy for them.  Telling me the first they planned to eat when it was their day.   Telling me about the first pussy they planned on getting. 

I took another breath.

I was going home.

As I was getting out of bed looking at the smiles of my fellow prisoners, the fellow cast offs and forgotten, I realized that me going home was just as important to them as it was to me.  I didn’t really understand it fully until I looked back on it later, but every time someone got released, it was if everyone else got released a bit too.  It reminded them of the real world.  Reminded them that their day was coming too.  That sometime they would be the person on that bunk scared half to death.  It was such a marvelous feeling.

I have told the story more times than I can count, that no matter what my life brings, whether I win the lottery or walk on the moon, I don’t know if anything will ever beat the day I got to go home.  It was a feeling you may never know, and on this occasion I would have to say that is good thing.  It was a marvelous day.