I haven’t posted on Remembrance Day via social media or blogs ever. I didn’t wear medals or distinguishing markings at my local cenotaph for years after release. I locked myself in my own head and only surrounded myself with the people that I felt safe letting in.
I thought I was just being antisocial, but it turns out that the vast majority of the people I served with were doing this as well. There’s an injury at play here that shows itself in ways that people don’t always understand. A quote from a close friend, “I’ve never been more ashamed and proud of the same thing in my life”. That sums it up really well.
One of the biggest traumas for service personnel, is the removal from our community. Our tribe. Being set adrift alone is terrifying, especially when you’re the one rowing the boat. The answer, for me anyway, was to expand my tribe. I started going to outdoor markets in my home town of Lunenburg, started getting involved in my community and supporting local business. Getting involved with my children’s schools, and the parents of kids the same age. As a result, I’ve started to build my tribe again.
The people in this community that consider themselves my friends (you know who you are) accept the people from my unit as their own. These people would literally build a boat to come find me if I were ever adrift again. I feel loved, appreciated and safe here. My family (blood and chosen) have quite seriously saved my life. You’re heroes. Every single one. You’ve enabled me to find my footing again.
My veteran community is suffering to the tune of 15 more suicides this year alone (that I know of). Five of those since August. Through the experience and support of my new community, we’re building a boat to look for survivors. It’s strong and it’s fast and we’re coming to find you.
Ever since releasing from the military, I’ve discovered a profound peace in my garden. Hands in soil, physical preparation of earth, and of course the reward of what comes up!
Healthy food and physical activity are so beneficial to my mental well being.
But, being a kid, I didn't always want to go. I’d moan that I had something else I wanted to do or complain that my feet hurt. My mind would wander and I’d think about a TV show or something else equally as trivial.
Trigger Warning: This post mentions elements of death.
I was rifling through an old shoebox of photographs this week, like swiping through your phone pics but manual (HA!), and I found this beauty.
So before organizing (and I use that term lightly) with the other two guys, and way before putting this website together, the three of us had been working and adventuring together for almost 20 years. Over that time, Jim has established himself as an accomplished oil painter and graphic artist, Royce a devoted knife maker and sketch artist, and me a practising photographer/videographer with an appreciation for semi precious stones and minerals. All of these things we did together and apart, in our down time or spare moments. The super great thing about the lack of confidence in my own work, is that I’ve accumulated a massive library of photo and video footage to share!
The Veterans Finding Peace short was a piece of video that was honestly left to the toss of a coin. Whatever gets me out the door and in a creative space is golden. Besides, any day in the sun on top of the Jeep is time well spent.
So, as I film and create, I'd enjoy shedding light on the world as we see it. The world we all live in. Every story or piece of art we create is focus used in creation instead of destruction. Peace in place of calamity, and hope where hopeless seemed final. I would love if everyone who visits our site were able to pull a personal connection with one, or all of us together. If you leave feeling better than when you came, maybe share us with someone else who needs to feel lighter.
Seth: Wandering Jester and devoted friend. Hunting images like game on a landscape. Sharing meals, story and adventure. Weaver of words and kicker of stones.