Mark, the Bull Riding Marine


I don’t really feel like writing today. Another Afghanistan veteran has killed himself. Although we had many friends in common, I never had the pleasure of meeting him. He came around IVAW after I’d gone. (I decided to step away from Iraq Veterans Against the War after serving a year on the Board of Directors. I wanted to work on other things.) By all accounts Jacob David George was a big hearted, big smiling, peace loving banjo picker with a poet’s soul. I know how bad a poet’s soul can hurt after going to war. I’m sorry he lost the battle with the sadness and I am so very happy that he’s not in pain any more.

A short time ago I spent a couple of days with a friend of mine, also an Afghanistan veteran. We met for the first time after my deployment to Iraq and remained friends through his deployment to Afghanistan. When I first met “Mark” he was the picture of a man, a former bull-riding rodeo cowboy stuffed inside the cammies of a Marine. He was smart too, a straight guy but he had his head screwed on straight too when it comes to LGBTQ issues. He couldn’t possibly care less that I was queer, more interested in my love of the Marine Corps and my commitment to the country than what gender I had sex with. The “patriotism” (for lack of better term) he saw in me wasn’t some canned jingoism either. He first knew me as a dissenting activist and seem to “get it” that my stand against our government’s policies was a stand for freedom, liberty and equality. I think he found my taking a stand courageous and if there’s anything most Marines love more than cars, weapons, women and video games, it’s courage. Marines hate weakness.
He’d read about other important social and political issues too and had come to form some pretty intelligent opinions on his own, rather than regurgitate the same ones passed so incestuously around the insular culture of the Marine Corps.

Since the time when I first met “Mark,” we’d go long periods of time without talking, especially when separated by geography. Neither of us are big on talking on the phone. But, as cliché as this sounds, we’d always “pick right back up where we left off.” One phone conversation we had a couple years back after his final deployment gave me concern. He’d run out of the opiate painkillers the military had given him for his injury and he wondered if I knew where he could get some more. I knew that he knew that I was many years clean and sober so just the fact that he would come to me asking for drugs made me know there was trouble a-brewin’. As subtly as I could without making him just clam up (there are few things more bull-headed on this planet than a United States Marine), I introduced the idea that maybe he was developing a dependency and that he knew that I knew what that road was like. We ended it with my telling him that if he ever found that he needed help, I was always a phone call away.

Cut to: Last week I was to meet him at a restaurant so that we could have what I presumed would be another of our “I haven’t seen you in years but what were you saying when we last were together” meetings. Boy, was I in for a big surprise.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what happened with “Mark.”

Here, again, I’ve listed the four categories into which I’ve divided my life with five goals underneath each one and one daily “action in faith” I’m willing to take to see the goals be made manifest in my life. The story I’m telling myself is that if I can achieve these goals, I’ll be happy– or at least happy enough to want to stick around.

I. Emotional, Spiritual, Psychological
1. To live free of depression
-list ten things for which I am grateful EACH DAY
2. To live free of anxiety
-limit myself to TWO caffeinated beverages per day INCLUDING the pre-workout
3. To be true to my spiritual path
-have a ten minute period of prayer and meditation each morning and evening
4. To be happy
-take some action to help somebody else be happy each day
5. To help people who suffer from PTSD and/or addiction
-go to at least three meetings per week where other people who are living in a better, healthier relationship to addiction and/or PTSD meet and talk about their experiences.
II. Health and Fitness
1. To love what I see in the mirror when I’m naked.
-to look in the mirror each day (naked) and tell that crazy bastard I love him
2. To be great at CrossFit
-go to CrossFit three times a week, every week
3. To look like MMA fighter… or a gladiator… or an NFL quarterback
-lift weights three times a week, every week
4. Perfect sexual health
-do a three month “reboot” program of total abstinence while I figure out what I want this area of my life to look like.
5. A body that serves me well in what I endeavor to do
-spend thirty minutes each day doing Mobilty WOD

III. Sex and Relationships
1. To live free of codependency
-order a book on codependency recovery
2. To use my sacred “NO” when doing something would impair my ability to be of service in the long run or would compromise my wellbeing in the present.
-to include in my evening inventory, one time when I said “no” when I usually would have said yes just to please someone else.
3. The right and perfect husband for me.
-for now, be true to my reboot
4. Be a good son, brother, uncle, etc.
-make a list of everyone’s birthdays
5. To let go of Adam.
-pray for him daily

IV. Career and Finance
1. $110K or more per month starting now and for the rest of my life.
-write for four hours each and every day
2. To live off 80% of my income this year, tithing 10% to where I’m spiritually fed and investing 10%. I want that percentage to shift by 10% annually until by 2020, to be living off 10% of my income and directing the rest to do good on the planet.
-start now on every penny that comes in, no matter how large or small the amount.
3. To be clear about my finances!
-start today and keep a record of every penny that comes in and every penny that goes out.
4. To write 25 movies, 10 TV shows, 25 plays, 5 novels, 5 non-fiction, and a poetry and short story anthology.
-write for four hours each day.
5. The Mehadi Foundation to grow and thrive providing help for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in a multitude of ways, mostly through providing paid apprenticeships within the entertainment industry so that they can GET PAID for being creative and also to teach reliable and valid pure peer support techniques to this population of veterans.
-spend at least one hour each workday getting the website squared away, seeking funding, planning the future, and otherwise working toward the mission of the foundation.

See you tomorrow.

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