Death is Life

All that we seem to concern ourselves about is that which has no effect on the future, beyond our passing.


1-6  Death is Life

I’m gonna get real personal here, (so what’s new?) and attempt to explain this one.

Like most of us, I learned this “Death Lesson” on the battlefields of war. It equally applies on battlefields of peace as well. When it is my time, those I love will continue on. Because when your body dies, a vacuum is created, and nature deplores a vacuum – rushing in to fill whatever is missing.

Your passing is like laying down for the last time in a beautiful field of flowers. Then pulling a blanket, woven with the same flowers over your body, face, and head. You become invisible to the mortal eye. You become one with the field of flowers, blending into the beauty that surrounds you.

Like so, when we close our eyes for the last time and are placed within the body of our Great Mother, life around us continues on. As it is said, “My greatest concerns are my lack of faith”. Faith that all will continue according to a Divine Plan – an inevitable unfoldment without your free will to alter it.

The animals I care for, my brothers and sisters of fur, claws, hooves and horns will continue on with or without me. How arrogant to think I’m the only one who can feed and love them as they are now.

My dearest human friends will continue on their own journeys as well. Perhaps saddened for a time, going on to find new friendships to fill the vacuum. Guess I’ve gotten a little soft, because I too am saddened at the thought of no longer sharing this life, to laugh with and love them, to spend a quiet moment in the company of those so dear to my heart.

Whatever happens to the animals after my death is no longer in my control, perhaps it never was. In those last moments, looking into the eyes of my dear friend Miriam, the Angel of Death, I will feel at ease.

Why? Because in this life I have had the absolute honor and privilege of serving my Mother and Father (Wakin Tonka, the Prime Source) I call God. I will be at ease because I have lived each day through the Honor and Strength as a Warrior, focused within the true Nobility of the Human Spirit. If you don’t already, you can and will feel the same way.

“If we do not embrace Death, how can we possibly embrace life?” Regardless of the struggles, the pain, the joys and success we experience, one day that will all be over – at least on this plane of existence.

“Freedom from Death is freedom to live Life fully”, knowing that we have given our all to make this world a little better place. That is the reward for the struggle.

This way of looking at death is not just for Warriors, it is for everyone. It’s just that to be a good Warrior, we must accept our mortality and embrace death as a certainty. It makes us better war fighters.

I’ve seen a lot of dead human beings, most of us Combat Warriors have. When you walk up to the first corpse in this new life experience, the body appears so peaceful. It’s like this person is in a very sound sleep, silent, unmoving. When you touch their face, it seems rubbery, not real, the shell of what it once was. For this person the struggle has ended, the bond of life with this world has moved on.

In talking with Medics and Corpsman, they tell me that you go through a chemical cascade just before death. They say it’s more powerful than morphine and gives you a sense of euphoria, of peace. Seems to me that who or what ever programmed this into all of us, did so as a merciful act of kindness, preparing us for yet another journey.

Since you’re readin’ this, you’re still on the right side of the dirt, so let’s consider one possible way to make whatever time you have left on this little blue rock, a whole lot better. Maybe prep you a bit for that trip to the big BX in the sky? Maybe put a little more meaning in your life, so you don’t feel like an oxygen thief?

Just what is this life of service that I’ve been jacking my jaws about? What is it that allows us to feel peace in our last moments in this world? As I mentioned before, “When you help others, you help yourself”. That’s not to say you apply compassionate action in your life just to make yourself feel better. However you will feel better by doing it.

 Here is an example of a wake-up call.

 Back in the late 70s I thought it would be a good idea to apply my EMT skills overseas. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Haiti seemed like a good choice. So after three months of working in the clinic in Port-au-Prince, a little nun named Nicole said to me in the kindest way, “You know Andy, you’re not here for the poor, sick and dying. You’re here to help yourself”.

Having run out of money and missing Mother Teresa by two weeks, I left Haiti wondering what help I had really been. What was my calling I asked? So when I got back I asked a good friend of mine named Piece Pilgrim about this calling stuff.

She looked at me, smiled and said “You’ll know what you’re calling is when you are doing it”. Sure, I felt good every day working with the sick and dying in Haiti, but what really happened, is that I realized what sister Nicole meant. Helping others helps you to help yourself, to feel you’re in the battle and not in the rear with the gear.

 “Just what is your reward for service?” you ask.

 How about this? The first time a mother called me and said “Thank you Sarge, for saving my son’s life”. That is reward. When a Vietnam Veteran called me, having read the first book and said,” Thank you Sarge, because for the first time in 44 years, when I get up in the morning, I want to live”. That is reward. It don’t get any better than that!

So what’s the point? Well my anxious-to-serve friends, the point once again is real simple. Embrace your mortality to embrace life, be of service to something greater than yourself, and live in the present moment of your new Becoming.

If you were to ask anyone, from Martin Luther King, to Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Teresa (or any other person in a life of service right now), “Did you know you’d be doing this work years ago?”, the answer would be NO.

They may have had a dream, but they had no clue how it was gonna come about. They lived each day thinking, “One day I’ll do more.” And always, no matter how much they did, they never thought they were doing enough. Guess that comes with the turf?

For these exceptional people, and others like them, wisdom can in fact become a burden. That’s because, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. There is a sadness that comes with your increased depth of understanding, because you begin to realize how much work is truly needed.

It’s sorta like an Ever-Expanding-Circle. The more you move out to those in need, the more you’re able to see just how much more need there is. When I look at the 22 million (many tormented) Veterans in this country, over one and a half million of which are on the streets now, from the Iraq and Afghan wars, it’s overwhelming.

Like many others, I live one day at a time, helping one Combat Warrior at a time – small steps. I’m saying this to give you an example, not to pat myself on the ass. Because in my attempts in helping my Fellow Warriors, those small steps have added up to about 7000 Combat Troops and their loved ones. Maybe not a lot, but a fair start. You can do the same thing.

That is to say, if you’re a Warrior, now discharged or still on active duty, you have these same options. You can make the same mission objectives. Help Your People one at a time, and wait for the opportunity to help more. You’ll get your future mission objectives eventually. Stay frosty and just don’t quit.

Death is certainly a change. So now let’s talk a little more about accepting change, while you’re still not worm food. Maybe you’ll understand why living in the moment is a priority. You’ve gotta make the most of whatever time you have left, so maybe just consider what the old Jar Head is about to say?

Did you ever feel in your gut that a great change was eminent – about to happen at any moment? When we’re honest with ourselves, the thought of things changing can be a little disquieting, a little unnerving.

“How do we embrace change?” you ask. Imagine it this way.

Have you ever seen a dust storm coming? It’s a great wall of turbulent wind filled with very fine dust particles, moving toward you at great speed. Imagine that you are standing on the desert floor unable to escape it.

As the great front moves ever closer to where you stand, you are fixed, motionless, arms outstretched, palms up to the sun now turning red above the torrent.

Now take away the dust. The wind becomes invisible and silent. You are still able to feel the pressure wave touch you. Change is coming. You feel it in your body and Soul. It draws closer and closer. You brace for the impact. You stand motionless, in complete faith, accepting any outcome.

Suddenly it hits! In an instant, everything around you changes, being transformed into something very different than it was before the moment of impact. Looking around in wonder and disbelief, it’s as if you’ve entered an alien landscape.

Now you’re standing in a beautiful, flower covered meadow. The desert sand is gone. In the distance, people are beckoning to you, moving toward you, yet still too far away to recognize or identify. They are in your future, bringing new friendships and lessons to be learned.

Change has come, a new beginning in your life has moved into your present, beckoning you to step forward into an unknown future. Gathering all of your strength as a Warrior, you have faith in your own ability to overcome any obstacle. You have faith, that the universe is guiding your every action. You move forward into your new becoming.

Think of it this way. The Winds of Change are now carrying you into your future. It’s as though you’ve become a swift moving ship, sails taunt in the wind, cutting through the swells of a rough sea. You’re moving ever closer toward your destination – a beautiful, lush green island of peace and joyful becomings. Embrace the Winds of Change. Don’t ask how, just allow!

The past is done, finished. You can make small changes in the present to some degree, but “It is what it is”, because of the choices you’ve made up to this point. Your greatest opportunity for positive change is in the future. How you embrace that future, also influences the present moment. By living in the moment, and accepting any outcome is what brings you peace. I’ll explain.

The reason I keep harpin’ on living in the moment is for a number of reasons. It helps you to detach from the past, brings you peace and develops your ability to focus more clearly. Here’s an example of what works for me.

On a sunny day, stand outside, no matter where it is, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. I’d better modify this a bit, for you Marines and Rangers, don’t stand in the center lane of a freeway. Anyway, back to you standing in a quiet safe place.

As you feel the warmth of the sun on your face, calmly, slowly, breathe in the warmth, breathe in the Light and simply say. “Thank you”. Focus on that moment and that moment alone. Even if only for a few seconds, feel the peace of that exact moment.

In activities during the day, focus in that moment. When driving your car, think or say to yourself, “I’m driving at this moment.” Look at the road a short distance ahead, and focus for a few seconds, ONLY on that section of the coming road.

When having a cup of coffee, focus on the warmth of the cup in your hand. Taste the coffee and feel the warmth of it traveling down your throat. For a few seconds look into the cup and be grateful.

This process is sort of like playing baseball. You focus only on the ball coming toward you. A few Vets that I talk with have small gardens – container type or cultivated rows. When you’re in front of a tomato plant, touch it, focus only on the plant for a few seconds – look at it, feel it, smell it, focus only on this plant and say “Thank you”.

This is a conscious, willful exercise. What it does, is to force your brain to move out of the past, and out of the future that hasn’t come yet. The more you do it the more peace you’ll feel – pretty soon those seconds add up to minutes, and the minutes add up to hours. Eventually, the past moves further to the perimeter of your fishnet and the future becomes only a distant possibility.

You look at the future by saying, “What else can go right? What exciting events will come into my life, that I as a Warrior with all of my strength and wisdom can learn from?”

It’s a whole different way to move into the Becoming of your potential for Right Action. It’s a whole different way of looking at life, and Life is Constant Change. When you live in the present moment, openly embracing any coming change, then things usually go very well indeed. Why?

Because you ain’t throwin’ it out of whack with your own free will. You ain’t thinkin’ you can read the future. You’re just allowing it to unfold by itself. Is this as clear as mud? Let’s say it this way.

All this focus, concentration and control, takes a good bit of practice. You’re taking in information that your past experience gave you, then you’re adjusting fire to hit the mark. Once your rifle is sighted in, you’re more confident that in the future you’re gonna hit the bull’s-eye – living in the moment is hitting the mark!

And by the way, when you’re focusing in the present moment and say, “Thank You”, it’s just an act of courtesy, respect, and gratitude that you’re alive to feel that moment. Were you dead, you couldn’t sip that coffee, feel that tomato, or for that matter feel squat shit.

So then, to wrap this short briefing, consider a few things. What in your life is truly of value? It’s not money and the things money can buy beyond your needs. The way I see it, money is only of real value if used to relieve the suffering of others.

Are you living your life in fear of illness and death? Will you smile with confidence in the face of death, feeling peace and joy from a life well lived? Do you understand that in fact, “A Life Lived by Honor, is a Life Well Lived”?

Does your life, as you’re now living it, feel full and satisfying, or is something of great value missing? Are you asking yourself, “How can I change my life in a meaningful way?”

Because you see my friends, most all of us have a hole in our chest, Warriors or civilians alike. Most of us need to fill some emptiness in our hearts, to look into our future with Confident Anticipation (Hope) and know that our life did in fact make a difference.

So then, in a quiet moment of reflection, be still and feel who you truly are. Consider, what good you may do to help others. Ask yourself my friends, “What can I do to help Myself?”


The smoking lamp is lit.

 Enjoy the downtime before this next mission!

 We’re Operationally Mobile in 30 Mike’s!

If you would like to discuss any challenges you may be dealing with, please contact me. (