Monday, April 20, 2015

No Sober Driver

Monday, April 20, 2015

I returned from the New Warrior Training Adventure late last night.  My weekend training was held near Sioux City, Iowa.  I knew there were some very clear risks I needed to take during my weekend. And I feel that I took them...or at least some of them.  But in anything there can be unintended consequences arising from a choice we initially may think is an easy and clear choice.

One of my fears I had was that the location of the event might stir up painful memories from an earlier time in my life.  And this most certainly happened. While driving across the plains of northwest Iowa I saw a sign that reminded me of my time living on the Lakota Sioux Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.  The sign was one of those large billboards you might see along the virtually empty stretches of road common in the Great Plains.  The sign had a picture of a smiling boy.  He died in 2009.  He might have reached his tenth birthday.  I could not tell.  Next to his face were some words.  One of the phrases was "No Sober Driver".

No sober driver.  When we drive without sobriety we may very well never reach our destination.  We may crash and die on the way.  Alcoholism was certainly a part of the darkness of life living on a reservation.  This is what can happen when cultures clash rather than meet one another and share their beauty.  People die.  Children die.  Lives are permanently changed.  My life was certainly changed by my time living and working among the Lakota people.  My heart is always warmed to see Native American men who participate in healing experiences and service to others such as what I experienced in the New Warrior Training Adventure.  Being a man of Germanic heritage I am quite familiar with the power of the shadow.  There are some hearts beating around the planet today that are probably closed to German people entering the lives of the people who carry those hearts. Germany did a lot of damage in the twentieth century.  The shadow of German history can haunt successive generations.  I myself have been reminded of the shadow of German history in places as distant from Germany as Hawaii.  The legacy of our individual and collective shadows does not necessarily respect geographic boundaries.  But I believe we can learn from our pasts.  We can learn from the shadow.

Trauma can make for a lot of material to stuff into our personal shadow.  This certainly has been my experience.  I carried a lot of sadness in my shadow.  This past weekend I shared how I remembered last year that I didn't think I would live to the age of nine.  I could have benefited from more 'sober drivers' in my own life.  Somehow I made it to the age of nine.  Somehow I made it to adulthood. Somehow, despite all the anger and sadness I carried for so long, I managed to be a productive member of society.  But my anger and sadness lurked in my shadow.  Thankfully the anger is basically gone now.  I still have some.  It is connected to how I have previously treated myself. I treat myself much better now. The sadness remains.  But even it is changing.  The hard edge of my sadness is gone.  Like the earth of the Midwest after a long winter my sadness is thawing away.

Last night, as I went to bed in a soft silence, I spoke to my ancestors about the man I dream of becoming. I am on my way to meeting him.


When someone is driving while drunk a patrol officer may declare that person to be "driving under the influence".  When we drive our very lives under the influence of something dark we may find ourselves ultimately reaching a dark destination.  Seeing that sign about the boy who lost his life due to drunk driving was a harsh reminder that the darkness of the social ill of drunk driving can still be found under the yawning sky of Big Sky Country.  I would rather gaze in the direction of something bright and uplifting.  And that is what I did last night.  I looked and watched the sun as it reached the western horizon.

What do you wish to be the major influences in your own life?

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