I once sought solace and comfort in pressed wood and graphite trails. Each stroke documented my own life. Each trail soon amounted to no more than carbon, fluttering through the air, glowing red. I soon gave up the wood and graphite for hops and grains. I buried myself so deep there was no me to write about. I ceremonially entered “adulthood” and found myself staring at my childhood dream, the pressed ink, projected light, and expelled air that was once awe-inspiring was now my own.
In many ways, I was running away. It took years before I found my graphite trail once more, but they no longer met the fate of the predecessors. It took a few more years before they became 1s and 0s transmitted, interpreted, and projected as you see them now. It took the words of Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living,” to find myself once more. They are all but words and letters, given values by the society we have grown up in. So arbitrary, yet so valuable, so meaningful.
It took me facing myself, my true self, to find these words. I began to talk and soon wrote once more. I found people wanted to listen, but why? These are but words, stories of a life lived by a man no different than the company he finds himself in. So why do my words seem to hold value? What value do they hold to you?
I know what they are to me. They are my life, good and bad. They are my stories and my thoughts, seen through my eyes, interpreted by my brain shaped by the experiences I have lived. They are who I am, they are, in many ways, my heart and soul. They are held so dear I question each and every one. So dear are these words to me, I burnt them as a child, I drowned them as an adolescent, and I hid them as an adult. Each word is so dear I hesitate even now to share them. They are, after all, my very soul.
So, why do I share them? Why do I pass them on and walk away, as if my lack of physical presence will undo what I have done? I share in the hopes that my simple words may find a lost soul, that they may help them find their way back, as Socrates once did for me. I hope they give words to a feeling that has shaped your life, as Albert Pine has for me. I hope they help you understand why I am who I am, and why certain sounds cause my hair to stand up. I hope these simple words make a difference, because that is all I ever want, to help.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.