"Did you hear about Matt? He's gone, brother."
"Matt who?? Not Matt Dean?!"
This. This, right here, is why I do what I do. This is why I am who am. This is why I share so often and as openly as I can.
This man lost his battle with post traumatic stress this week. It's scary as shit when a man as strong as Matt loses the fight. I met Matt a few years ago at "Save A Warrior," a holistic healing program for Veterans, that's practice has now been adopted in a few different organizations I've been involved in. They're teaching some of the most important lessons, values, tools, and perspectives that are invaluable in not only the healing process, but the Living LIFE process.
When I met Matt, he was physically intimidating with a large, muscular frame, arms covered in tattoos. He bore the history of a Warrior from 1st Battalion 5th Marines, and stories of being a rough-necker in the oil fields. He had all the ingredients to be the cocky testosterone fueled meathead. Without knowing him, you could easily peg him as "that guy." Yet, Matt wasn't that guy. Not even close.
Larger than Matt's physical presence, was his Heart. The man I met was nothing but kind and caring. Matt was a Shepherd. A guide and protector to his fellow Warriors.
To think that he felt he couldn't Live in this world, or perhaps that this world wasn't worth Living in any longer, breaks my heart. It breaks my fucking heart.
I get it. Boy do I get it. I battle with depression DAILY and sometimes wonder if it's really all worth it. I keep going because I believe it is. I truly do. I believe that Life on this amazing planet with these incredible animals, beautiful landscapes, and inspiring humans is WORTH Living in.
Yet, if I read headlines on any source of media, it looks as if the world has come to shit, and who would want to continue living in such a place full of gloom, doom and despair.
Now, I'm not blaming suicides on media, but I am saying that I'm sick and effing tired of it grabbing any and all of the negative stories they can find, fueling conflict, immortalizing murderers, and putting outrageous ideals of radicals into homes and on cell phone screens across the world.
It's an unfair representation of LIFE on this Earth. Over the past two years I have visited nearly every major city, several rural areas and national parks, met people from all races religions and creeds...and we were all amazing to each other. Views may have varied greatly, but actions spoke otherwise. Welcoming, Loving, encouraging, inspiring, Beautiful effing PEOPLE!!
I've seen some of the most INCREDIBLE sights here in the United States alone. The entire world is left to discover. I may never get to see it all, but I'm working it into my Life goals to try and see as much of it as possible.
I don't want to do this just for me...but for those who can't, maybe wanted to do but never got the chance. I also want to continue to do this for everyone who just may be INSPIRED to KEEP LIVING. That's why I share what I share. It's always been with a purpose.
Bella and I's journey...that wasn't just for Bella...it was for me as well...and it wasn't just for us...it was for everyone. Especially for those who have lost Hope. That's why I shared it. I wanted to share that Love still exists!! Humanity still Exists! But we have to be open to it! We have to experience it! We have to believe in it!
As I've been on this journey I have had critics who tell me to get a real job so I "know how other people feel." They obviously don't know or have forgotten that I know exactly how that feels. I've worked countless jobs. Most of which left me depressed and longing for more. Dredging through the workday with disappointment in myself: "This isn't why I am here. There's more out there for me. I have a larger purpose, I know it!"
So...I set out to find it.
The journey over these past few years hasn't been easy, or as fun as it may seem from the outside. It hasn't been a vacation. It's been a search. Yet, I believe those years of searching have been purposeful. I believe they've been making a difference in myself, and all those I share with. In fact, I know it's making a difference… Because people commonly reach out and tell me that it is. To keep going. To keep sharing. So why would I stop? What could be more purposeful?
After experiencing death in many ways, a brother in the war, a sister in a car accident, grandparents to cancer and old age, friends to suicide, my perspective was blown wide open. Why are we here? What really matters. What really effin matters. Life. Loving and appreciating Life. Loving this planet, its animals, its lands, and its people. Loving BEING ALIVE.
That's why I spent so much time with Bella...because no one reminded me to Love being Alive more than her.
That's all I want to do, Love being Alive. and that's what I want to help others do. This is a gift. I truly, truly, truly believe Life is a gift, and we are so fortunate to be experiencing it together. I don't want to waste it. I don't want to feel like I want to end my own. I don't want anyone to feel alone in their struggles. I don't want people to give into cynicism and give up on humanity. I want us all to wake up, drop the petty differences, and realize that we are all in this together. This tiny blue speck. This is it. We're all in this...together.
I don't claim to have the answer, by any means, and I struggle with these idealistic viewpoints. But, I do believe that as I continue to travel, see new places, meet new people, smile into the eyes of strangers, Love on pups, and share stories and photographs along the way, that I am living my own answer. I am doing my part to feel purposeful. I feel it is part of my mission. For all intents and purposes, it is my job.
Matt, I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you, brother. It kills me that we didn't link up in Texas, that I didn't take that extra hour or so to come see you. Yet, I take solace in knowing you're hearing and feeling everything I have to say. I'm sending Love to your family, as I'm sure you know how much pain they are experiencing with your absence.