November 3rd, 2013 ….. Eye, Heart and Mind … What About The Soul?

11-13-0056It was 1970 and I had been in Nam for just a few weeks. I hadn’t been in the bush yet but I knew it was coming. I was 11B, what the Gov’t calls Collateral. I made photos of everything, of everyone I saw, everyone I talked to and everyone that needed someone to talk to. My M4 got a real workout but nothing that was ahead of it, or me. I was sitting against a bunker in DaNang cleaning my lenses. All the sudden a very tall guy was standing over me blocking the sun. He introduced himself as Jock. He had a OD camera bag and a Nikon F around his neck with what looked like the 200mm f/4. He asked me who I worked for and I said I was a grunt and was just making photos to record the experience.

The next day I was sent to Chu Lai. Before I left DaNang, Jock told me to look at the shy every sunrise when I wake and if I survive the day, look at the sky at sundown. He told me that if I every get lost or ever feel my humanity slipping away, that sky would should me the way home.

It was Saturday evening November 2nd, 2013. I was in Atlantic City with Tanya visiting my Nam Vet buddy Joe. Joe lost his legs 7 months ago and has been on a watch list that many vets and I keep tabs on. Tanya was a gem cleaning Joes kitchen and helping his wife Mary cope with the new reality.

I took Joe out for a stroll and when we got near the beach, Joe asked me to carry him to the waves of the ocean. So I asked a chair person to watch Joe’s wheelchair. No sweat. Luckily enough 2 of the chair people assisted me getting Joe to the beach. They sat down and smoked a hmmmmm natural smoke. We did not indulge and I did not inhale.

Joe was telling me how he wanted to end the pain he was causing Mary and his friends and family. I told him to stop being an A-Hole and he argued that life isn’t worth living the way it is. I looked Joe in the face and all the sudden, as we both gazed upon the sky the sound of the waves gently moisturizing the sand, the people on the beach, the gulls landing on the sand and every one peering at the most wondrous spectacle that could only force one to realize that no matter where you are, no matter who you are with we are not in power, we are not alone.

Joe had tears in his eyes as I told him the story about how a photographer from Australia who saved my life, NO…saved my soul in DaNang in 1970. I hope in time Joe can find his way home and the inner peace he so well deserves.

I only truly know one thing. In Nam when I gazed upon the sunrise and the sunsets and now in Atlantic City I became acutely aware that I may very well be a troubled soul wandering the earth making photos but in my very ESSENCE and the depths of my SOUL, I know I am not and never will be alone!

This photo is Dedicated to Jock.

8 thoughts on “November 3rd, 2013 ….. Eye, Heart and Mind … What About The Soul?”

  1. As usual a powerful and moving story, my friend. I too often look to the sky for a sense of proportion and wonder. Speaking of which I often wonder what and where I would be, or if I would be here, had I not drawn a high draft number during Nam. So many things over which we have no control powerfully effect our lives. May His peace surround you.

    1. Dan thanks. The Grace of GOD has shined a light on you by giving you a high number.

      The LORD has a sense of humor also. When I was drafted, I was told that if I volunteer for Viet-Nam, my brother would not have to serve. Of course I volunteered for Nam knowing that I couldn’t live with myself if he didn’t make it. So I did my duty and learned to be a grunt. After I got to DaNang, I got a letter from my brother that told me he had such a high number in the lottery that my mother would be drafted before him.

      It was ok, I was good collateral and I felt secure knowing he was safe. He still feels guilty and probably always will.
      Me, I love watching the sunrise and sunsets……..

  2. I knew I should read this blog entry Don when I saw the image was in color. Life. We have such a short time here when one looks inward. Yet we so often take it for granted. Thanks for reminding me how important every waking moment of my remaining life means, not only to my selfish self but to my loved ones around me.

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