The music is loud, making it difficult to have a decent conversation; the smell at the bar is almost revolting… a mix of sweat and tobacco. He is forcing himself to remain there pretending to have the time of his life. He never thought that getting back to his old town was going to be such a challenge. He found everything the same way he left it; he is the one that changed and has to push himself so as not to feel out of place.
Five years ago after enlisting into the Army he was sent to a conflict zone. His parents were very proud; their son was going to fight for their country. He was going to be a hero and also earn some good money to help them through the rough times.
He was too young to understand what he was getting into and by the time he realized it, was too late to turn back. None of the training received prepared him for what he went through. At war he saw all types of abuses; some of his comrades got intoxicated with the power they had and did the unthinkable. At war they found a place to release all their demons without being indicted. There, they were given license to abuse and kill… and many did it, oh yes… many did it!
The moral tribulations prevailed over what he was instructed to do. He could not stop asking himself infinity times: “Is this God’s will? Shall we kill our brothers and sisters? Are we not all children of the same God? What I’m doing here? Does this make any sense?” Tim was lost; he did not know any more what was right and what was wrong. During the first eighteen years of his life he was told to respect and to love everyone, despite the differences. He was also told that weapons were the devil’s tools to bring the worse out of mankind and separate them from each other. But then in the Army they were given guns and sent to a place where it was OK to kill if needed to, even if they did not have anything against the people they were fighting.
He is aware that men have been fighting from immemorial times. But before it was a question of self-defense, or conquering new territories and not a question of reducing unemployment and improving the country’s economy. Now, human rights are violated in the name of a fake cause as the real one is too grimy to be told. The civilians of the country they were sent to assist were the innocent victims of the economic game. However many of them were fighting for their ideals, for their country and for their people, while Tim and his comrades were there doing their “job”, it was a question of salary and not a question of survival.
To make things worse, once the war or the specific assignment was over, soldiers are sent back home and expected to behave as “normal” civilians, irrespectively of whatever they have done or experienced. On their return many suffer from continuous nightmares and are faced by a society that does not want to talk about what they have gone through. For Tim returning to his old town and to his previous life was challenging, more than he could ever imagine. He found it difficult to put together both realities: the one he just left behind with the one he was returning to. Tim needed some time off to compose his life; he was in urgent need of reconnecting with himself and with the simplicity so as to stop himself from falling into depression.
To be able to move on, it was vital to be fully present and make peace with his life. After trying several techniques and reading some “self-help” books, he decided to give it a try to the philosophy described in the Power of Now by Eckhar Tolle. Therefore he started paying attention to the details, noticing the regular things around him that frequently go unnoticed. During this time he began to perceive above other things, the infinite variety of flowers around his house, on the way to work, on the park, etc. He was overwhelmed by their silent majestic presence, and felt the uncontrollable need to capture their beauty and show it to the world. Tim collected all the money he had, bought a camera and set off ready to take pictures of each and every flower crossing his path. For the first time in a very long time he felt happy and adventurous, bringing to life his inner child, allowing himself to be fully aware of the present moment, conscious that the now is all it is.
By paying attention to the flowers and photographing them, he began to understand better the mysteries of life. He noticed that flowers grow everywhere, in the garden of an expensive house, in the bush, in the underprivileged areas, in the dumping ground, at the cemeteries and in the most unexpected places. Despite the conditions or the surroundings they grow to their fullest, fulfilling their life purpose, without conditioning their existence to where life has placed them or question the Universe for its unfairness. Each of them is unique, they come in all sizes, colors and shapes…. just like humans do. But the main difference is that the flowers are fully alive and present while the humans are just living and mostly focused on the past and/or the future.
His new passion inspires him every day, giving him the strength to be who he wants to be, regardless of the surroundings. He is thankful that he found relief and motivation in photography, and that he is able to share what he sees with others. Tim has traveled all around, meting different people and cultures; he is seeing the world beyond and with his life’s approach he is starting to influence the people around him, as they are also starting noticing the unnoticed, they are becoming more aware of the world around them, they are slowly waking up…
Soon he will have to return to the battle field; this will be his last assignment. He is prepared to go and complete his duty; now he knows that there are no mistakes in life, that everything happens for a reason and that it is up to him to make the most of it. He understands that he needed the experience to grow and re-discover himself.
Smiling big and wide Tim look at the group he is with, before rejoining their noisy and confusing conversations.
He is a happy man that sometimes steps back, but quickly recovers.
© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author
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