Watt asked me, “Do you want to go to Austin with me? I know you want to run everywhere, but I would love to hang out more with you.” I thought about his query for quite a while. Every time I have had said yes to an opportunity, it has proven to be the most amazing experience. So, I said…yes. It proved to be one the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Spring has begun to descend upon Texas. Flowers, long dormant and hibernating, waiting for the sun’s return, have begun to burst forth. Cracks filled with dandelions defying the concrete coffin covering their fertile beds have pushed their blossoms toward the light. Streams and brooks ramble through craggy ravines made of sandstone worn smooth by years of snowmelt’s last passage. Green, the color held captive and treasured by the desert ramparts has bounded and vaulted its confines and found pastures and paddocks to spoil. It seems now that the sweep and reach of the fertile flora threaten to engulf anywhere light can be found.

Gliding through this panorama found me reflective upon all that has been mastered and mustered in the desert. Having crossed the barren wasteland of salt and sand, the sea where no oar is dipped is finished. My page had been turned by accepting a ride. The ride now provided the next chapter of my epic. Being the primary witness to the unfolding chronicle that is the peace artist walk, even I was not prepared for the massive and profound bridge that has now been crossed.

What I yet didn’t realize was the magnitude of the step. A leap, if you will, of faith. A belief, confidence, and conviction that the capacity of love, to bring the world into harmony no less, is not only possible but requires such an easy toll upon the participant. Simply stated, it is a willingness to be a part of it.

When I went to the bar with Watt, I made a conscious decision to see not what I could receive, but what I could give. Watt and I sat with many people sharing with them their stories and struggles. However, the last hours of the night found us with three beautiful women. And yet it wasn’t THAT badge for which we sought. It could be easily said that we were the envy of the bar. Any guy would have liked to exchange places with us because they were the most gorgeous women in the bar. Yet it wasn’t their exterior that held us. We were engaged in a conversation regarding the very meaning of life, and our mutual cooperation in it. It mattered not their external visage, but their core was of paramount beauty and importance.

Some would say that people are like mannequins, an external flawless visage functioning as a candy coating of a hollow interior. But, it has been my experience that every human has asked himself or herself the simple and yet ardently profound question…”Why am I here? What is the purpose of life?” It was upon this premise that our small group talked till 3 am and would have talked even longer had the tavern not thrown us out.

We all have had THE experience. At some point in our development, we all have taken part in the seminal choice that will define our lives from then on. As a child we are asked to “do this” or “do that” ad infinitum. However, one day quite unceremoniously we made a simple decision…we chose self. WE chose to be alone. But, it is more than that really; we chose to hurt another.

We aimed our bow, drew the string taunt, and released a vile arrow directed at the very heart of those whom we profess to love and those we think we hate. We made a fellow human a pincushion for our malfeasance. Our words stung like the hot irons they were intended to simulate. Like yin and yang, our dart, however small, stuck the heart of another.

But, there is a converse to this choice, a squeeze principle if you will. If A = B, and B = C, then A = C. We too, because of another’s choice, have felt the pangs of an assassin’s deadly bolt to the heart. WE also have felt what it is like to be the victim.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Bullshit. I can’t remember what it felt like to break my leg. I remember the events, but try as I might I cannot feel the pain any longer. But, I can remember each careless word that cut me to my core and made my heart bleed. Though the assailants meant to harm me in that moment, the lasting impact has seen me carry it with me for a LONG time. By extension all of us carry around the careless words of another for most of our lives. The only salve for this wound is forgiveness.

The dichotomy, and therefore the irony, is that the arrows slung at others are the very fiery darts lodged within our own hearts. The decision then is to choose others. The rest of our lives become a continual balancing act between choosing self or choosing others. This concept and the actual experience define the most primal and original choice of human kind. At some point chose I or we. Choose to be the victimizer or the lover.

Within a war time foxhole is the very essence of this. It sees the same soldier who only moments before was willing to take the lives of others across the field of battle. It sees this same soldier jump on a grenade to save his fellow man. We have the same choice in every moment of our lives. Choose love.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – The Dalai Lama

It seems though that these experiences, those whom I’ve met, the conversations with Watt, and more that I haven’t yet written about wouldn’t have ever been possible had I accepted his love and his ride.

Love, Art, & Peace to all.

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