Many of us have selected a life purpose, some as short as five words long, some full paragraphs of specific information. I'm curious, though, as to why we have selected our life purposes, and I would like to share my story as well.
I expect long explanations and as few dry keyboards as possible while we explain how we came to have the purposes that we have today.
Oh, and I'm blogging this as well.
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My life purpose is one of the five word purposes, but it encompasses me completely. My purpose is "To bring peace to everybody."
It is a lofty goal, and I don't know if I will see it finished in my lifetime. Honestly, I don't care if I personally bring peace to each and every individual. Just being able to help the process, perhaps by inspiring others, is more than I could ask for.
There have been several key moments in my life that have led me to this purpose. I grew up with my father after my parents had divorced while I was still in pre-school. I had always been an introspective kid, and was able to figure out simple physics as a toddler. One of my father's favorite stories is of how he put a latch high on a door when I was two years old, so that I wouldn't get out, only to hear the door shut an hour later, and a pool cue on the ground as evidence of how I had reached so high.
Throughout my toddler through pre-school years, and one of the events that led to my parents' eventual divorce, my mother had a boy friend. I was physically abused by him, and my two older sisters were molested. I don't hold animosity towards him now, since he served several years in prison as a convicted child molester. Whether or not he got what he deserved from the hazing that the other inmates gave him, I'll never know, but he is out of my life now, and I recognize that holding on to anger would only hurt me. After a while, I forgave him for my own sake. He would still play a role through most of my childhood, though, even while he was in prison, because of the excuses that the abuse gave me in shutting out the world.
Unfortunately, I was also a product of the American public education system. I was too intelligent for my own good, scoring 142 on an IQ test taken in kindergarten. Because of the divorce, my father was in no shape financially to put me into a private school, and charter schools weren't popular at the time. I developed some extremely bad habits with my school work, and despite learning the material quickly, I became bored with applying it. By second grade, I was in the Special Education system, and I would not escape it until I was in high school.
Second grade marked another important part in my life; my father had remarried. I had a fairy-tale life at that point, complete with the wicked step-mother, but no sign of a happily ever after. I am not exaggerating when I say that my step-mom is the least likely person to attain enlightenment. Under her stifling care, I received very little physical abuse, with the exception of being lifted off the ground and nearly thrown through a thick glass door. Her rage was legendary, and I would often get 'lectured' at for hours at a time until she would lose her voice about breaking rules that, even now, seem silly, such as leaving a plate in the living room. The arguments between my dad and her would sometimes last for entire weekends, and could be clearly heard from several houses away.
Just like the person who had physically abused me, I have since forgiven my step-mom, though I was able to look back and learn from her as well. Aside from a low self-esteem, and the opportunities missed from that, I haven't allowed her to affect my life, and I have learned how to control her emotions directly, so when I visit my father, she is unable to get angry.
When I was eighteen years old, however, I was more than happy to leave home and join the military. I had already learned how to hide in plain sight, so during initial training, I was never singled out. The generic abuse that I did get from my drill sergeants were nothing in comparison to the verbal abuse that my step-mom gave me, and the hardest part of training was being away from home for the first time. It was January of 1999 when I joined the U.S. Army, and besides the nine weeks of basic training, I had another twenty weeks of advanced training where I learned how to read doplar radar, and I missed being "The Distinguished Honor Graduate" by one tenth of a percentage point.
My first duty station was Camp Humphrey's, South Korea. It wasn't one of the many bases near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), rather, it was on the western side of the peninsula, about mid-way between the DMZ and the southern shore. I spent September 1999 to September 2000 there, and in that year, I became an alcoholic. (The legal drinking age is 20 in Korea, so I was legal through most of my time there.) I drank away a large enlistment bonus, until my commander decided to step in and send me to AA. Throughout that time, I had a long distance relationship, and halfway through my tour, I took leave and visited her, which was largely uneventful, but worth noting for later on in this post.
During my tour in Korea, I had an opportunity to visit the DMZ for a sight-seeing tour. Here's a little bit of history for those who haven't been exposed to it yet: Just over fifty years ago, the North and South Korean armies, along with the North's allies of China and Russia, as well as the U.S. and some other UN countries, stopped fighting, marched backwards one kilometer each, and have not moved since. That cease-fire is the only peace that exists between North and South Korea, and no declaration of peace has been made; they are still in a state of civil war, despite the extremely low number of casualties since then. The two kilometer stretch of land, now heavily covered by land mines and connected by only one road, is known as the DMZ. Along that road, in the center of the DMZ, there are a series of buildings, three of which are cut in half by a line drawn on the ground outside, as well as inside. In the middle of those three buildings is a table with the same red line cutting it neatly in half.
I can honestly say that the red line is the scariest thing that I have ever seen in my life. It represented (at the time) just under fifty years of cold war, marked by saber-rattling and a few attacks that could have easily led to the resumption of the war... It had the feeling that this one layer of paint was the only thing holding back divisions of artillery, and the second largest army in the world. I crossed the line once during that visit, and those four feet that I traveled into enemy territory were more than enough for me.
It was at that point that my idea for peace started to gel in my mind. I wanted to erase that line, but I couldn't because of the fear of that line being broken, allowing the terrors beyond to push through. I adopted the role of a statistic... I was part of our nation's saber rattling that ensured that nobody would attack the nation that I was born in, nor would they attack the nations of Korea, which I had learned to love and respect.
In September of 2000, I left Korea, and went to Ft. Lewis, Washington. My time there was largely uneventful, though I did slowly increase my drinking again. I spent another year before I had saved up enough leave to spend another month with my girlfriend, who had moved to upstate New York. I visited her in the last week of August, and the first week was less than I expected it to be. At the end of the second week, she had broken up with me. My father bought tickets to fly me back home, and that Monday, I was on a plane heading back to Phoenix, where I had grown up. While I was in the air, my grandfather had gone to the hospital for life-threatening pneumonia, with a very slim chance to survive (he survived another three years after that).
The next day was September 11th, 2001.
(Apparently, I'm too long winded, so I'm splitting this post... to be continued.)