I have, for the most part, reserved this website for my personal philosophical insights. Well, I am breaking that pattern tonight. I don’t know how often I will be doing it, but I am doing it now (sort of).
I have not been as consistent in my posting recently, but for good reason. Last week my youngest son, who is nineteen years old, graduated from Marine boot camp.
I need a significant amount of alone time in order to consistently produce the daily hot! quotes, and this month has demanded that my attention deal with other things like packing and moving, increased business at work, and as I just mentioned, my son’s Marine boot camp graduation in San Diego, California. (Frankly, my time and attention have been split in too many directions this past month.)
I have two sons. My oldest joined the Navy last year around this time (in July I wrote about traveling to and attending his Naval boot camp graduation here).
Although appreciative of those that serve in the armed forces, I have never been super fascinated or involved in any way with any branch of the military. That is, until attending both my son’s graduation ceremonies. The discipline, focus, and respect I witnessed last week reached a part of me not easily touched by anyone or anything in my day to day world.
Allow me to momentarily digress, if only to lay down the important role our humanity plays in the discovery of our greatness.
Each person’s propensity for making mistakes and being “off point” (including any great artist, brilliant performer, even the most disciplined Marine) is acutely real.
And you could say that our humanity, our flaws, our greatness, all of it is us. All of it.
To deny any of it would create duality inside of us. And, unfortunately, most of us live through duality much of the time, not knowing that our resistance to the dark and light parts of ourselves is the very thing that authors our suffering, supports our drama, and recycles the same fears into one experience after another.
When witnessed, great art changes us forever. There are exquisite performances that literally reach inside us, pull out our guts and lay them out to be mixed in with the rest of humanity’s innards. There is also the significance of abandoning all fear to fully lean into a relationship, then actually being caught – a safety very few of us experience, it seems. These are examples of the life changers, the moments that shape our perception of the world and make us new creatures; and we often obstruct their becoming. There were several moments this last week that had this sort of effect on me.
If you are a parent (especially of adult children, after the fire of their adolescence), you will relate to the joy experienced when you witness your child absolutely accountable for their choices, intensely focused on a purpose, and utterly happy. That is what I felt when I saw my youngest son for the first time after three months, when I first saw him as a Marine. After they broke formation (below) and allowed to hug family and friends, he turned and the largest smile lit his face with joy, relief, and internal possession.
(Larson stands third from the back. This photo was taken the day before graduation on Family Day. We got to spend the afternoon together on base. We bowled, ate pizza, went sea canoeing, talked, laughed, listened to each others’ stories. It was a very good day.)
I remember waiting for the graduation. We arrived an hour and a half early to get decent seats. The day began with an overcast sky and a slight breeze, which cleared up and ceased by noon.
We sat on bleachers with a vast parade deck before us, which we were not allowed to cross. Marines guarded the perimeter. It was asphalt and a foot higher than the parking lot that surrounded it. Beyond the parking lot (and about three-fourths the width of the parade deck) stretched a series of Spanish colonial revival buildings connected by a single walkway embellished by infinite arches. It was expansive, unfathomable, and awe-inspiring.
The families and friends filing in seemed like a meager stream of thin color against the perimeter of the expansive parade deck. This immense setting exaggerated everything natural around it. A half-dozen giant palm trees, evenly spaced, lined the arched walk way.
There was an occasional slight breeze where we were sitting, but the towering palms moved as if they were underwater and animated by several strong coalescing currents. Mesmerized by the invisible force that made the palms billow, dance and wave, my gaze remained fixed on them for a lengthy span of time. It reminded me of how many times I have been moved and shaped by things, people, or situations outside of my control. And I thought of how beautiful the movement of the palms were, how any resistance to the wind would cause a limb to break and fall to the ground, never again a part of that dance, that beautiful whole again. It occurred to me how many times my need to control things has actually “broken” situations, relationships, even my own inner beauty and progress.
There were several parts to the graduation ceremony, including an impeccable performance by the Marine Corps band. But when the recruits marched out, when they moved into formations with crisp precision, I realized the importance of each piece to the whole – how essential each of us are to the entirety of humanity – how the quality of our contribution matters in the quality of the evolution of the human race.
Unity, connection, understanding are what matter when considering the whole of things.
Those few days with my children in San Diego was a life-changer on many levels. It amplified the degree to which I feel appreciation, deepened my insight of what loyalty truly means, and heightened the beauty of the invisible things that rouse, inspire, and make us… despite our resistance, which (ironically) fashions the unique beauty of our individuality and its vital bit in shaping the whole of humanity.
I will always remember this trip and its significant, sequential experiences, the healing conversation with my daughter on the way there, and witnessing my youngest child crossing over into manhood, which profoundly changed my awareness and validated years of offering love, acceptance, and inclusion amidst rejection and imperceptibly.
End Note of Joy: My daughter (married to her best friend of five years) is pregnant with her first child. I can’t wait to meet my first grand-baby, to hold him, kiss his sweet, soft cheeks when he arrives in September!
Fun pics from last week…
(Waiting for the graduation ceremony.)
(After graduation, from right to left: Me, Larson, Matt, and Elyse…with my grandson undercover and still growing. :))
(My oldest, with obvious remarkable style, met us the day before in the parking lot on his newly purchased Harley. Yes, he has a helmet. He took it off for the pic. :))