Bandit’s Midnight Run…

So, no lie, there I was: Standing atop a fence post, on the shores of an alligator infested lake, at zero dark stupid, waiting for an overzealous dog to return to his owner (who left me there in case the dog came back while he moved our camping gear across the lake) wondering how in the hell I had gotten ther e and if I was making it out of there. No light to check the ground for something that would probably want to eat me, climbing the fence post and standing atop it like Ralph Macchio trying to learn the Crane Kick in Karate Kid seemed like the safe thing to do. Of course, that was back when I had the balance of a ninja and could have probably stayed perched up there all night. If I were to attempt that now, my buddy would have probably returned to find me wrapped up in the barbed wire fence like a tangled up marionette. Needless to say, I wasn’t eaten that night. My buddy returned and we found his dog not long after. 

That’s a great story to tell when we have gatherings with family and friends. Everyone loves to hear about how I was perched on top of that fence post and all the shenanigans that followed. I selectively leave out parts of that story for good reason. Plus, those parts don’t really get to the heart of that night. Not for me anyways. 

Here’s the story I don’t tell, though, about that time playing statue on a fence post. To truly understand how unnerving the environment around me was that night, you would have to go somewhere you were completely unfamiliar with, in the pitch black of night, no moon in the sky, stand atop a post and hear hundreds of noises moving through the two foot tall grass that you can’t identify. To this day, I can’t think of what made me hear that plan and say, “No problem. I’ll wait here.” That went against my whole character at that time. 

However, I learned something about myself on that post, somewhere in the middle of the swamplands of Central Florida. Actually, I learned several things. One, I learned that a three inch wide fence post is indeed enough room for me to be comfortable for twenty to forty minutes, depending on who’s telling this story. Two, I learned that I really don’t like Florida. As someone who spent the majority of his life there, I can safely state that. It’s hot, muggy, overcrowded, really hot and most of the wildlife looks at you the way most of us look at a well cooked steak. 

The big thing I learned, though, was that no matter the situation, I was perfectly fine grabbing ahold of my ego and stepping aside to let the universe do what the universe was going to do because that was what was needed. I mean, that dog was like my buddy’s first born child. Had anything terrible happened to that dog or had that dog not come back, it would have been like losing a child for him at that point in his life. There was no way I was going to leave that to chance without playing some sort of role in trying to see to it that that wasn’t the outcome. 

At the moment it was happening, that was a dire situation. I found that same feeling, again, in the military amid other dire situations. It’s something I’ve begun to apply in everyday life, as well. Removing the ego and understanding that sometimes, it isn’t about me. None of this is about me, really. There’s a bigger picture and there always has been. We, in our chaotic existence, are just pieces, like pixels in a digital photo. Each individual pixel is one life. Put them all together and they form a brilliantly calculated photo, full of human existence in its truest, most diverse form. 

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