“Sometimes I wonder why are we so blind to fate? Without compassion, there can be no end to hate. No end to sorrow caused by the same endless fears. Why can’t we learn from all we’ve been through, after two thousand years? – Two Thousand Years – Billy Joel
“I know I was born and I know that I’ll die. The in between is mine. I Am Mine” – Eddie Vedder
On November 20, 1983, ABC broadcast a film that would change our lives forever, The Day After. As a young boy, I sat on the end of the couch just a few feet to the right of the 26 inch tube television with my brothers, sister and parents by my side. About 45 minutes into the film and my eyes clenched closed, I could not bear the tragedy I was witnessing. Teachers had spoken lightly about nuclear weapons and the cold war, but the potential elimination of manhood via disintegration and slow painful cancerous effects had never dawned on me at my age until I witnessed it on this screen. Needless to say, I spent the remaining one hour and twenty minutes on my bunk bed under a pillow shaking and crying.
Thirty years later, that film still has an impact on millions around the world. Whether you saw it for the first time as a child or adult, it sent shivers and fears throughout your body. It was a film that remained with you long after the credits ended.
On this day, November 20, I remember a time of:
- Family – When I was a young boy, together in a room with my parents and siblings sharing a moment that would change our lifetimes.
- Awakening – It would be years later when I would see the entirety of this film, but the effects it had on me then and continue to have on my now is lasting.
- Fear and love – Life is about individual moments in time that define and shape us. 30 years ago today, I had one of those moments.
- Living – It is ironic that a movie about destruction and death could open your eyes to the magic of life.
I am not writing this to change the way you live your life or provide a “This Day in History” fact. This is my way of sharing a reflection. Family, happiness, love and peace are values I hold close and this movie was one small piece of what helped shape who I am.
Life is not about the pursuit of heaven and hell
Not the pity we create due to our self imposed short comings
Not the blame we place on others
It isn’t about the philosophy of right or wrong; nor the lifetime pursuit of the immortal sign of nirvana
The one visual mystery that solidifies the hope of a mystical after-life of eternal perfection
A cloud void of hate, emotion, strive and pain.
A home of love
Where emotion is stripped from the spirit and the core remains
This is not our purpose; not our legacy
We are not a definition; yet we are defined
Defined by moments that change lives
A spiritual awakening
An unconscious act of kindness
A brush of generosity to a stranger
A warm embrace when a tear is shed
A hug bringing shelter from the storm of the aching
To look at death from the eyes of another and understand
We are the gatekeepers of heaven
This conceptual utopia reuniting us with a life left behind
I want to find the catalyst to the deepest roots of my emotions
Find a meaning to a life not written
A simultaneous stream of now playing forever
Today I pledge to honor this now; this life; this soul
With the wind at our backs, a cinematic vision of the open road fills our hearts with the thrill of possibility.
Only the land to call home, we plot a path to nowhere
In this vulnerable state, we find strength
Strength of heart
Clarity in sight
The wilderness of life roars
Vicious and fierce
Soft and comforting
She is a kind land
Warms you with the blanket of the sun
Tucks you in with a sky filled with night lights send from millions of miles away
I can see her smiling back with each passing mile
Each sign a teaser
The sun is about to go to sleep in the West
Slowly, the colors of fall disappear into the darkness but the mental image remains
We forge ahead under the leadership of artificial light
Next sign says “rest ahead”
Body weary, but determined
With blood my our eyes I will myself back to a wakened state
The ominous darkness is but a trial in the courtroom of life
Breaking through mahogany doors to welcome the rising sun
A new concrete path paving the way for our marathon journey through life
Sunflowers waiting to quench our thirst
No finish line in sight