In 2019 I basked in the darkness and dined with my demons. They poured my favorite whiskey and my forever place at their dark dining table was set to welcome another fractured veteran. My cozy reservation at this somber dinner party was within grasp. When squared-up and standing face-to-face, I gave a subtle nod and chilled whisper to the grim welcoming party. With a cracked, soft voice, I uttered, “Not today, fellas. My story ain’t over yet.” Drastic actions were taken because I needed drastically different results. An experiment ensued where valuable new lessons learned were poured over my fractured frame, like molasses filling a void. While the door to that dark dining party is locked-tight behind me, I stashed away those valuable lessons learned for future emergency use. My eyes are focused forward, now armed with the power of positive thought.
Everything in the Universe operates on cycles of rise and fall. From a 3rd party perspective, I can see, with crystal clarity, the wild yaw and pitch of our stress-injured combat veterans. I’ve found they tend to experience higher highs and lower lows than our civilian counterparts. Patterns of birth, death and rebuild represent the framework infrastructure that describes our predictable Universe. From the right perspective, it’s a simple wave pattern.
A deep-rooted understanding of the mathematical equations that rule the Laws of Physics, coupled with a wide lens for patterns, was the elixir I needed to curb my rhythmic descent into darkness. I discovered the tools to detour this dark roller coaster of peaks and valleys that plague 22 fractured veterans every day. It’s my aim to share these tools with you today.
Enough word foreplay, let’s get down to business. What are these illusive tools? I already told you. It’s the power of positive thought. Words have power. Even subtle actions have a gravitational force that can alter the future with drastic outcomes. See Chaos Theory. Mathematics shows me how a simple flap of a butterfly’s wings could have been the source energy that originally created Hurricane Ian. If true, the devastation Hurricane Ian brought to Southwest Florida also brought me to you today. From the point of view of the butterfly, simple words can cause you to shift your rigid reality and see new solutions, it’s just math.
You’re probably thinking, “What the hell is this hippy dude talking about?” I’ll bring it back down to Earth and give you 2 real-world examples of how the power of positive thought curbed my recent descent into darkness.
During the month of October 2022, I worked as the overnight contract-security team leader for displaced residents in the wake of Hurricane Ian. I worked at a filthy FEMA camp located in a decrepit abandoned Publix grocery store. I was saturated in stress because I was forced to fix a dangerous security mess while ascending a near-vertical learning curve. It was a contract filled with surreal, horrific, and heartfelt stories that I’ll soon immortalize through the power of words, but first, I want to tell you about my Haitian laundry-lady friend named Louise.
I’ve been living this security-nomad lifestyle since 2001. It’s become a fun game to try and pack as lite as possible when I travel. Sine laundry was a drop-off service, I’d visit Louise in the laundry pod twice a day and swap out my dirty clothes for fresh clean ones. Like a Swiss timepiece, I rotated the same 2 shirts and the same 2 pants for 30 days. It was masterful efficiency for the ultra-lite contract security aficionados.
It was a high-stress contract where I solved complex, and often dangerous, security challenges throughout a long 12-hour night shift. My time off was minuscule. Food was scarce and living in a dry, coffin-sized, FEMA trailer added complexities to daily personal hygiene.
Enter my subtle smirk, I thrived in this fight-or-flight high-risk lifestyle. I was in my comfort zone while dancing with danger, while a side of stress was tugging at my tail. I relished the challenge it took to steer multiple timelines toward positive outcomes. It’s a dangerous balancing act for a sheepdog to mingle with the sheep while treading a razor wire. My senses were heightened while my patience was thin.
Sometime in the first week, the laundry lady lost a fancy, and expensive, anti-microbial towel I deployed with. When questioned, the laundry manager shrugged his shoulders, waved his hand away then mumbled something in Creole. I’ve been conditioned to view my personal gear as my operational lifeline. I had muscle failure and a slip of sharp words fell out of my mouth because my mission was now disrupted.
I strive to exhibit a friendly demeanor, especially to those who wait on me or serve me. It scrambles my mind when someone is obtuse, rude, or disrespectful. Service is a tough industry. I know because “security” is a service industry wrought with ugly challenges from an ungrateful public.
Louise was an innocent victim folding laundry behind her boss when I finally had time to corner the laundry manager and attempt to extract solutions for my missing gear. The rage began to spill out when he offered no solutions, dismissed me, then waved me away. Sometimes the nearest exit is behind you. I left that cramped, humid, laundry pod when I saw the walls begin to vibrate from an incoming rage storm. I felt my logic center awaken and exclaim, “It’s a $50 towel, get over it, Scott.” I felt sharp words were imminent. I chose to walk away, shift my perspective, and deploy a lifeline.
In 2019, I confided to a friend that, “I just wanted to go one single day without yelling at someone.” Drastic actions were taken to remedy that frame of mind. This pleasant, peaceful veneer was earned through heavy self-reflection, meditation, and drastic actions.
What kind of drastic action? The next day I started learning Creole. I never saw the laundry manager again, but every day I’d greet Louise in her native Haitian-village language – Creole. My elementary attempts at her language plastered a pure smile upon her face, which, in turn, fueled my covert experiment. I felt an immediate shift in my perspective take place. I grew up in South Florida, a region with a vibrant Haitian population, I’ve never taken notice of how beautiful their language sounded.
Her English was poor, but I weaved through every broken word while I was enthralled by our short daily energy exchanges. Over the next few weeks, she explained the interesting history of her lace-infused language while I attempted to mimic her twisted sounds. For 1 minute a day, I was enchanted by my new friend Louise.
Creole is a ‘slang-French’ that sounds like ruby red crimson cursive wafting through the air. I found it adorable when she’d giggle after I fumbled over a new Creole word. She reminded me of a departed aunt who I miss dearly. We would laugh exchange longer greetings / goodbyes day after day. Louise brightened my entire day and cast, much-needed, positive energy into my darkness. What’s so profound about Louise and our friendly banter?
Here’s the positive message and the point of the story. I flooded her with positive energy to curb my anger. I fed off her friendliness on purpose. I used her positive energy as a safety apparatus to pull me out of anger and separate me from negativity. She became a beacon guiding me back to the shore. She was an oasis for the stress of my nightly high-stakes security duties. My interaction with her gave my energy the much-needed balance. She was the Yin to my Yang. It was a deliberate effort to choose a positive timeline vs. remaining on my negative self-destructive path.
When I finally fumbled through my Creole “final exam” goodbye, I didn’t have the heart to tell Louise she shrunk all my darn pants! I’ll wear these high-water pants and think of you, St. Louise!
The second example where I used the power of positive thought to delay my demons is still a throbbing wound. I’ll paint a moment of context before I dive into the tough stuff. After the FEMA shelter job with Louise ended, I was invited to work closer to the beachside ground zero of destruction. I’d soon face a dark tribulation.
While working on this post-apocalyptic peaceful beachside security contract, I fell into a deep-down cycle of darkness. Emotions aside for an interlude of context, it was an interesting new contract with professional leadership. I won’t mention the company name for confidentiality reasons, but it I worked for a tip-top stand-up crew. I was happy with the job and kept my reputation intact, despite drowning in real-time before their eyes. My mask was tied double tight this time because this ain’t my first rodeo.
These are the heavy masks our forgotten warfighters wear to hold the irradiated pieces of themselves together, day after day. It’s a sad state of our society when its nation’s warriors struggle to release the pressure of that suffocating mask and stare at the stranger in the mirror. This is me without that sultry, stifling mask.
Last month, while at the new job site, one of my closest friends passed away unexpectedly. Combined with my current outside stressors, I now began to slip. Josh was a former PJ and OGA [Other Governmental Agency] Ground Branch medic who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism in his home, while he was alone with his young children. He’s seen more combat than anyone I’ve ever known. His fractures oozed radioactive pieces of himself while he struggled with his combat stress injuries. My stumble slip would soon turn into a terminal velocity free-fall.
I felt my plunge and then deployed time-tested balancing tactics. On the 12th month of ‘22, I found myself meditating on the roof of the 12th floor during the hallowed Winter Solstice, happening on the 21st. I sat facing the descending sun, with the intent to calm my mind. It was a band-aid for my fractured soul. A mere stopgap.
A week after Josh passed away was the 3-year anniversary of my sister’s death. I was soon on a rocket ship downwards. Over the past 20 years, I’ve been away from my family for most holidays. Low-dose holiday blues are a common occurrence that I’m always able to deflect. Since my sister passed away on Christmas morning, combined with the recent passing of my best friend, the holidays exposed the paper-thin spots in my dilapidated armor.
Nowadays, more of my friends seem to be dead than are alive. I made the mistake of drafting a list of those the departed, then felt the loss of gravity. I called a close friend and warned him I was “slipping.” They asked what I needed. After that, I drifted away into a familiar robotic fog.
I’m tired of watching my friends die. As a close-knit community of shattered warriors, we must pick up our individual broken pieces, collect them in our tattered pack, and continue living the best life we can. That pack is getting heavy and those shattered pieces of ourselves never quite fit together the same way again.
I once carried my best friend’s casket, wrote, then delivered his eulogy. I also once sat sobbing at another brother’s funeral while my written words were a razor slashed across my ear drums. It’s a sharp surprise to hear my tangible, raw emotions read back to me without warning in Ryan’s eulogy. I also sat in a hideaway spot on the roof of a high-rise building in Santa Monica while I tasted my tears and crumbled to pieces over another brother lost. And more, and more… Enough.
Josh’s passing highlighted something new about myself that terrified me. I felt nothing. There was silence. I was numb. I remember speaking to the love of Josh’s life as if I was writing down a mundane police report. She was a slobbering somber mess while I was a ridged mechanical robot. I understand everyone grieves in their own way, but Josh’s passing jarred something loose in my psyche, and it eventually affected my work.
An unexpected variable in the form of a rogue wave of negativity disrupted my delicate positive energy tightrope balance. I had an altercation with a drunken, baby-boomer, client employee who festered a misguided notion of self-importance. A man beneath me in all forms of stature, class, and honor. There are consequences for bad behavior, and he chose the wrong Ranger on the wrong day.
While balancing in the darkest corner of my downward cycle, my mask was drawn tight until an intoxicated property manager lit my fuse and opened the floodgate to release a rogue wave of negativity that demolished my fragile, safe harbor.
Until this moment, I was able to slow drip my descent by meditating, remaining positive, and maintaining a sharp focus on the beauty that abounds. “Focus on the light and don’t feed the night” was my mantra. I often disassociate and view myself from a 3rd party perspective, a handy tool for a creative author. It’s a sobering feat in self-awareness that has been instrumental for personal growth.
A bird’s eye view of this ugly event showed a tidal wave collapse my fragile house of cards and push me over the edge – into a dark abyss. I was working at the front gate of a secure facility when this inflated jagoff almost killed me with his car – on purpose. When I saw the open container in his center console, I unleashed a title wave of rage over this minuscule man. He hopped out of the car, slammed the door behind him, then charged at me with wild in his eyes. He was red-faced with anger when we met, chest to chest. Those double-tight strings holding my brittle mask gave way. A rose-colored curtain of rage noted the next act of this ugly play. Be kind to those around you, because you never know the hidden struggles concealed underneath a worn-out mask noted by a forced smile.
My ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ gatekeepers smashed on the brakes while simultaneously pulling the emergency stop handle. My rage overpowered logic. It oozed out between intermittent periods of quiet professionalism. A rare outburst event for a wire-tight, disciplined Army Ranger. I let go of the fractured pieces and basked in the rage that poured out of my mouth. Hello, old friend.
I was mortified after I exposed innocent bystanders to my dark travel companion, fury. After the incident, the contract program manager removed me from the bustling job site, full of human interactions, to work at an isolated overnight location. I was alone on an empty island – literally and figuratively. It’s dangerous to be isolated when you’re spiraling in the dark. I took notice of the darkness inbound and deployed an emergency lifeline. I administered a tool I discovered in 2019 when I previously dined with my demons.
I believe human beings have the capacity to heal themselves. Nicola Tesla once said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” I needed to change my vibrations and realign with a higher frequency, to bump me off this dark path. After all, it’s just simple math.
I took deliberate actions and did something I’d never done before. I chose to perform a generous act with the intent to trigger an overwhelmingly positive reaction, that I’d use as a lifeline to pull me out of the dark. Let’s call this tactic, “Piggyback off the Positive.” It’s silly once you see how simple it is. What, pray tell, did I do?
I gave my Waffle House server a $100 tip and drove away. A selfless act to begin filling a reservoir of positive energy. That’s it. I planted a seed of positivity. Quantum Mechanics tells me I created a new potential future timeline, one which I believed had a high probability of becoming true. It was a deliberate effort to push vibrating (positive) energy into a beautiful light-bearing soul in a desperate attempt to rebalance my turbulence. It took me two tries before this experiment was a success. The First experiment, at an Italian restaurant, failed on Christmas Eve because I anticipated immediate results.
The day after my 2nd experimental lifeline was deployed, I visited the same Waffle House to, hopefully, reap the benefits of the positive energy seed I planted the previous day. I had a touch of anxiety because I longed to be alone while standing defenseless outside of my comfort zone. My vibrations were so low that simple conversation was difficult, especially with a stranger. The world turned into a monochrome silent film around me. I needed this experiment to work because the walls were closing in and I was drifting out to sea.
This is the good part of the story. Meet my Waffle House server, Kelli. The moment she smiled when I walked through the door, I knew she was the battery source I needed to achieve my, much-needed, harmonious balance. Her smile said hello, but her eyes welcomed me.
Kelli is a young Haitian mother whose boyfriend is a former U.S. Infantrymen soldier. I was the only customer seated on that slow, Florida-hot, December afternoon, I invited her to join me, at my crowded table. A classy, gentlemanly gesture, in spite of the dark dining dignitaries who had a firm grasp around my throat. I offered a gentle hand motion, next a head tilt with a smile, and then a polite stand before she seated. I uttered, with all my might, yet as faint as a dove could whisper, “Please, have a seat.”
Kelli was a pure soul of radiant delight. Her charisma and positive energy knocked the ice off my heart the moment I heard her infectious laughter. There it was. The elusive sparkling bronze ladder needed to climb out of this crevasse. This is the part of the story where we make bold connections across space-time. I spoke the Creole words I learned from Louise with a deliberate effort to be used as a bonding agent to ride the wave of Kelli’s positive energy. Positive begets positive. Upwards we went, together.
When I spoke the few Creole words I remembered from Louise, I felt, then observed Kelli’s energy shift to a higher frequency. Her positive energy now blinded me while I sat in that ice-cold Waffle House. We set our masks on the table and connected through the lost art of conversation. Her positive energy and overpowering light gave me whiplash as I approached the speed of light on my ascent out of the cold. I was back. I felt as if I emerged from a heavy fog.
An important scientific observation. During our 45-minute, mask-less conversation, I never mentioned the dark dining party, who were quietly sitting on my flanks. I gave them no attention. They vanished the moment I connected to Kelli’s positive higher frequency.
The air was still in that Waffle House while the sun streaked across the table, bringing color, music, and love back into clear focus. Her smile, purity, and gratitude changed my perspective back to positivity. I climbed my way out, and so can you.
We were clusters of chance particles swimming through the Universe that collided at a lonely Waffle House one afternoon. A particle collision brought on by the flap of a butterfly’s wings and the hurricane it brought to Southwest Florida.
Dark became light the moment I chose to focus on positive energy. Positive energy breeds positivity. After I made this mystic connection and thanked the Universe for this precious new perspective, The Havok Journal invited me to become a featured author in their veteran-theme publication. I told The Havok Havok I’m humbled for the invite. I’ve had a muzzled life with a sustained fight. But know this, I have not yet begun to write.
I restored the positive energy balance and my writing soared. Join me to discover faint whispers of enlightenment gleaned by a shift in one’s perspective. Remaining positive is a daily decision. Every single day we’re given the opportunity to grow, evolve, and break out of the mold we’ve dug for ourselves. If you need different results, if you’re stagnant, or if you’re sinking, then I suggest you do something you’ve never done before. Enjoy your life because every moment on this beautiful planet is a gift.
Scott “Longboard” Chapman served in 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment from 2001-2005. He deployed to Iraq during the 2003 invasion and then to the Afghan theatre 4 times. After the military, Scott worked in the executive protection space and then as an OGA security contractor. Providing security support to the Intelligence community where he deployed 17 times; mostly to the Forward Operating Bases (FOB). He provided security support for Intelligence personnel and operations. Scott continues to work in the contract security area.
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.