Editor’s Note: This article might apply to anyone experiencing great tribulation–but for context regarding Jake’s story read: “Nothing Less Than What Was Asked Of Me.”
My mind floods with quips and lines. I quickly take notes in drafted texts, gym notebooks, loose paper, or a mad rush to the computer. It is as if the dam has finally broken under the crushing weight of the once fierce and free-moving waters it has sought to contain.
That latter could also be said about my life as of recent. Once a fierce and free-moving human, I have been trapped by a man tipping the scales of justice. His actions subtle yet so obvious, Lady Justice lifted her blindfold to glare down upon me. She stands not blind, but inept to balance the scales she is sworn to protect.
The fact is, when someone has nothing to lose, they are able to accomplish and destroy beyond comprehension. What a single man can do when he has lived the game longer than most. What he can do is settle a life of perceived personal sleights. He can show his true vindictive self to the world with little care for the wreckage left behind. He can seek to destroy those who dare to balance the scales once again.
I am nothing more than collateral damage in the score-settling, but it is of no consequence to a man who does not care. A man who walks the world tallying every wrong statement or disagreement like a bookie might tally debts. A man who would stop at nothing to get “even” for sleight nothings. A man who would ironically accept all collateral damage to achieve his “vindication.”
As it appears the end might be approaching, a time when he is no longer in a position to dangle us as leverage, I find myself painfully aware of the state of my stagnation. I have built my own dam to protect myself from going crazy, from destroying those around me like flood waters searching for a place to flow. As I begin to break apart that dam, my thoughts begin to flow again. I begin to find all that I thought was lost. My mind was like a frozen mountain, now thawing under the summer sun. What is left are the trapped thoughts I dared not thaw for personal preservation. What is left is a dam unable to hold back the melted ice. A dam that has cracked and crumbled under tremendous pressure.
What is left now are the rapids of freedom, or the hope thereof. These are the rapids of a man hoping to find the channel he once loved; the channel that gave those fierce rapids purpose beyond the mere self.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
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