Something for nothing.

Yesterday, Rob Wilson—one of the lost Intruder technical divers—and I went Dragonfly-sonar searching for a vessel of some sort that we are not certain even exists. We found nothing on the sea bottom but had solidly real conversation from which I believe we both learned. It’s always a positive alchemy of the soul when one can make something out of nothing.

As I continue to attempt to weave 56 years of memory into a cogent pattern, something that makes sense, I realize that it is from the depths of darkness, from the absence of information and light and hope, that “peak experiences” (coined by Maslow; defined here by me) emerge and brand us with surreal truth.

The intensity of my two most peak of experiences still haunt and thrill with life’s ultimate vitality, that of narrowly averted death. Being lost deep inside the Andrea Doria’s First Class dining room, fighting to find an escape was the first, occurring when I was just 21 years old in 1983. The second, in 1991, happened while flying on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger’s first strike into Iraq, a night low-level A-6 Intruder mission where the darkness was interrupted only by ubiquitous tracers and surface-to-air missile plumes.

The common thread of darkness does not escape me, a void of knowledge, certainty, fact or logic.

Yet, as terrifying as each experience was, they are what I identify with the most as “who I fundamentally am (or at least was),” and this memory somehow reassures. From each, I emerged from darkness slightly more insightful.

Gaining “something from nothing” is intuitively sought after in today’s world. But maybe it is only after we stop actively searching for such an experience that it might grace our door.

Ground Hog day all over again…

Parkinson’s disease is complex, difficult to explain, and often unpredictable. My deep brain stimulation surgery of four years ago has bought me time, but as my Parkinson’s symptoms grow in severity, again, it is not any easier dealing with the pervasive misunderstandings of the disease.

Except for permanent bags under my eyes, I look surprisingly good well into my Parkinson’s adventure, but after morning exercise, the day usually turns into an exhausted struggle fighting surprise sleep attacks that make saying a word an arduous chore. Interpreted as laziness or rudeness, extreme fatigue makes interactions with people awkward and unpredictable.

When you look relatively “normal,” people inevitably assume that you feel “normal.” Frankly, I wouldn’t know what “normal” feels like if it jumped up and bit me in the ass. I rarely sleep more than an hour or two in a row, averaging 3-5 hours of sleep nightly. Medication makes me more tired, as does the disease itself, but I’ve learned through experience that If I do not exercise strenuously, physical deterioration and deep depression will follow.

It is incredibly draining, and day after day, year after year, it never stops. The fundamental misunderstanding is that my challenge is not one of time; I’ve got plenty of that. I face an energy problem, a frustrating, bystander’s stupor of intense boredom.

Parkinson’s has brought many positive things into my life, not the least of which is a renewed appreciation for the joy of laughter, especially when the alternative is a painstaking explanation that is unlikely to be read or understood. Now, that, is funny…