Below is an attempt to lend clarity to the boy I was, and the man I am becoming, in order to give a window into why I so strongly hold Integrity of one’s Character above all else in life.
I have striven to be as brief and clear as I can; but as a fairly new writer (how much could I have really done in 24 years, anyway?) — There are bound to be hiccups in the flow of the writing; and I will have left out some parts. However, I have sensed a growing curiosity of what lay aback the black and white of the words I have recently typed. We all relate to stories. We all seek to bond in some way with the one another. That’s why we like movies and books with good character development and great acting. We desire that human connection. So, even if the facts are not entirely precise in their presentation…know that I have given great thought and care to the impression that they will leave you with. The individual facts of the story are not so important, as the overall IMPRESSION or ESSENCE with which they convey those facts. When you take apart the human body and look at each piece separately, you cannot come away with the awe-inspiring beauty and elegance that you get from just a simple or cursory glance at the finished product. The elegance, love and wisdom behind the synergy of an all powerful and inter-connecting intelligence, spells itself over you almost like an aroma of the finest quality. The stories are but stories. I think that we – including me – take them way too seriously. The stories are merely to illustrate a certain unique perception of our connection to every single thing in existence, and the essence or glue which binds those perceptions, (or a filtering of consciousness due to a localized reality).
Therefore, read this with the overall picture or message or intent which was in my mind, and not in order to pick out faults of the writer, whether the mechanics of the writing or the views of the writer. I have many faults. Of this, I am supremely aware. If you read it with an open mind and compassionate heart, you may see the underlying nature of yourself peeking through; and if so, I will have done my job for the time being.
Thank you for your presence and your love, and enjoy!
I am a 34 year-old United States Marine with no siblings who is no longer ‘active’, and I go by the name of Nate, for now, but was christened, David Lee Madison, Jr., after my father, who was a “Sr”. I’ve lived in foster homes. I’ve been in special education classes when I was in elementary school. Our family, my father and my step mother, our cats and rabbits, and myself, all moved around quite a bit, while living in Virginia. Later I flew out by myself to go live with my fundamentally religious aunt and uncle. I stayed there for about a year, on the west coast, overlooking some cherry trees, out into sunset after sunset, slicing it’s way so beautifully toward our home at the end of every day. Our mobile home was situated between Mount Hood, Oregon, and Washington State. We lived with one very feisty and demonic cat, named Eidelvies, (pronounced, “AY’ DUL VICE”(This may be a butchering of that cat’s name, but I don’t care…that cat can go to hell for all I care! – joking, of course) He had one blue eye and one brown eye. It was a bit crowded in there, as we also had two shelties.
There was no television, no radio, no toys, and certainly nothing that you would see in a typical suburban home, or an apartment. Instead, we lived in that mobile home up on cinder blocks, with a piano, a wood stove, some books, a small, square dining room table and three wooden chairs, a bunk bed in my room, and maybe a regular bed in theirs. – And of course, there were quite a few bibles. Outside, was a sizeable stack of firewood which rested against a brick-red painted porch with lattice the same color. The dogs roamed freely most of the time, and you could wander down the hill, through the various orchards, toward the edge of the cliff, overlooking the Gorge, where early on Saturdays and Sundays, you could just make out the glint coming off the boards of the windsurfers, way below to your right.
I was there maybe a year or so, and then came back to live with my dad and step mom, who had, by then, moved to Rutland, Vermont. I went to 8th grade there. – And then I moved into the newly constructed Rutland High School in June of 1994 as a freshman.
I spent about nine months up in Bangor, Maine, in a dorm on the campus of Penobscott Job Corps, studying carpentry at the “Home Builder’s Institute”; and then signing up for the Marines. I took my ASVAB for the armed services and was very surprised to score a 98 out of a possible 99, and was assured that I could get any job that I wanted, because, as the guy explained to me, “That score shows that you’re smart enough to work on those nuclear submarines in the Navy if you really wanted!” I didn’t much think so, not having the confidence back then which I’ve been working on lately; but the guy was adamant. I wound up with an MOS designation of a “3521 Diesel Mechanic”. I got out two years later, not wanting to continue, and feeling like a complete failure among other things; but I survived the experience and even fondly remember some parts as being rather pleasant.
Several things happened all at once while I was making a living as a server at TGI Fridays in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (when I got out of the Marines, my dad had once again decided to move). The first thing major complication, was my step mom began suffering from several strokes. The neurologists said that she had had four similar strokes in the same frontal region of the brain – where judgment calls are made. She was placed in a care home after being released from the hospital. Her sister came in and took control of the power of attorney which had up until then, allowed us to survive in a $700 a month, two bedroom apartment in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. When, my dad discovered that he shared a genetic condition which predisposed him to his mother’s auto-immune and nervous system disease – Mulitple Sclerosis, and that he was exhibiting the symptoms from some environmental or emotional trigger – he took it in stride. He was about 48 years old, attending nursing school and getting mostly straight A’s, while holding down a strenuous physical labor-type job at Blommer Chocolate Factory. All that went away while he tried to convince the doctors that he wasn’t just dreaming the condition up; but was really starting to deteriorate from the disease. Their lack of compassion and a bunch of red-tape, allowed the disease to get some momentum going; and by the time they decided to do anything about it, his physical and mental condition had considerably worsened in just a year’s time. I remember when he could out run me and out think me. It wasn’t long before that was no longer the case and I began to see him more and more frequently leaning on a cane and complaining of pain in his him. He began to slur his words and forget things I had told him not just a few days ago. I had to watch, powerless to stop, a proud, intelligent, highly creative and competitive man with a the spirit of a lion, get broken by a deterioration of his nervous system. This killed me. I’ve always been rather empathic, and tend to feel other people’s pain; but in time, I had to shut that part of myself off, so that I could continue to function. (I’ve since figured out how to ‘turn’ it back on, with the help of meditation and contemplation; and because I wanted to regain the connection I had as a kid to the world as a whole.)
As time passed and stress mounted, I began to increasingly have trouble with my attitude toward work as a server. I dreaded coming in; and I feel that my subconscious part of myself finally decided to make the decision that the conscious part of me was afraid to: A few weeks later, continuously worrying about my dad and what he would do since he could no longer work (I was worried that he would wind up homeless…and I need not have worried because his girlfriend took him into her home and took care of him the best she knew how), I made the mistake of coming in on the wrong day, and was fired. I had been trying to get people to give me extra shifts that they didn’t want so that I could cover the bills. What then ensued for nearly six years, was on again, off again, life of living in shelters, warming centers, couches, and on the streets and in tunnels, and rooftops. My main occupation became learning very quickly how to survive in almost any condition. You can’t ever prepare for this. Not even my Marine Corps training could; but it helped with my mindset. I continued to improve upon my meditation so that I could bring balance to my mind. The last thing I wanted was to have some organization from which I was receiving aid, to declare me incompetent to live my own life. This is a very real possibility and nearly happened a few times. What one does not realize, is that when you go into a building that is there to serve the homeless, you are, in effect, inviting them to become you caregiver or guardian. If you “misbehave”, then they have the power and authority to put you into what is termed a, “72-Hour Hold”, whereby your mental condition is assessed in a hospital-type environment, and if you are seen as unable to function in normal society, certain of your rights as a “citizen” are revoked. Freedom is one of those rights. The freedom to make your own choices based on your own sound judgment. Some stranger who is paid $10-$30 per hour is given charge of evaluating your state of mind. I find this laughable, because most often, this person has no clue of the context of the situation. Therefore, how can they possibly make evaluations and value judgments as to your normal state of mind and whether that has been compromised? In body language, they call this a “baseline”. In order to know whether someone is lying or sending “incongruent” signals from those that they should be in that particular situation, you must know how they act and react in everyday, non-stressful situations. You must compare the two in order to draw meaningful conclusions. Unfortunately, for some individuals, this is not the case; and they get some kind of label; and often are pushed or coaxed into taking medication to fix the “problem”.
Since 2008, right around Thanksgiving, I have lived outside for several winters in Boulder, CO. I learned that my mom had lung cancer a few years back, so I decided to leave my job, buy a $500 car from my savings, and make a trip out to Illinois to attempt to take care of her. On the way there I incurred a fine which I could not pay while driving the interstate highway, almost out of Colorado. The officer wrote it in such a way that I could not read what it said; and therefore could not respond to the charges. The fine stuck and fees were attached. This eventually led through a series of cause and effect chain relationships to the result of the loss of my vehicle. It is now 2014, and I am still paying court fines for fees from a failure to change an Illinois license plate to that of a Colorado one. This occurred, because after paying the fine and fees, in good faith, from a “failure to yield to an emergency standing vehicle” on the highway – I did not have enough money to take care of getting my license plate changed! This, from about 2010, when I first discovered my mom had cancer. Afterward, when I no longer had a car to sleep in, I slept where ever I could manage – where the cops would not give me a ticket. I still managed to get a ticket when I was turned away from the Boulder Shelter after losing a “lottery”, and upon learning that a warming center would not be open that night. I made a decision against my better judgment, to accompany a few other homeless guys to a property which they swore they had permission to sleep on. It was out in the woods near a ditch and a few hundred yards away from main traffic, so I assumed that we were ok there. During the night, some guys continued to draw attention to them selves by carrying on a loud conversation, and in the morning two female cops were issuing tickets. It was cold enough that the “illegal” sleeping bag that I had, was stiff from frost. I was not in trouble for sleeping outside. I was in trouble for utilizing what Boulder law has termed, “cover”. Clothing is not considered cover, but anything other than clothing, such as blankets, sleeping bags; and I’ve even been told, tree branches, is considered cover. It was cold enough to freeze to death that night; but because I used a certain amount of common sense to survive – I was told to appear in court. I did. – And a Lawyer, David Harrison, took up my “camping” case, pro-bono. He then, got me in touch with ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union, because the case against me was deemed, in their eyes, unconstitutional. Both David Harrison and the ACLU saw my case as one that could set a precedent in law. If they could find me not-guilty by virtue of being forced into a situation which was unconscionable, and I therefore had to make as they termed it a “lesser evil” decision which any normal human being would have made given the unique set of circumstances; then they could set into motion protections against homelessness abuse, which made it legal to prosecute those who were simply doing all they knew how in order to survive in a society which punished those who had no or little means of making a dollar. In effect, homelessness had become a crime; and the silly, yet awful response of law enforcement was to further punish these people by taxing them with court fees which they call “fines”.
If your son or daughter, wife or husband, boy friend or girlfriend, or mother or father were out on the streets – would you convict them for doing what they could to survive, when society had made it nearly impossible for them get shelter? In essence, this is what the city of Boulder has done countless times. They are making homlessness and the necessary actions which have been taken in order to avoid it — a crime.
If this isn’t enough, I’ve been tased six times in a row, by the police in a misunderstanding, maced or pepper sprayed, and had a net placed over my face for simply trying to help my friend who had been beaten up and was lying on his back in the middle of a sidewalk. The manager of the Pub where we were playing pool told him that he didn’t have enough money on his card to pay for our drinks. We all tried to work out something with the guys. I offered to wash their dishes or do something else. My friend offered to leave his license, so that he would be held accountable for paying the debt. They declined and kept threatening to call the police if we didn’t pay up. I could sense that my friend felt he had few options and was going to try to run out the back door. I tried to signal him to think it over and be cool – that we could work something out. He gave them a card which he claimed was his sister’s which he let me know didn’t have the necessary money on it, in order for them to leave the room. This would present a distraction so that he could run. He did. They quickly followed, yelling and jeering, as if it were some game. I walked around the corner and was accosted by a man who grabbed me from behind. I looked into his eyes and told him to let go. I had the Marine Corps training to severely injure him by attacking with a knife hand or a palm strike to the throat, thereby crushing his larynx, and sending him to the hospital or killing him. I chose to not do this, knowing both the consequences, and only desiring to help straighten things out with my friend. After speaking calmly to him, he let my arms go and I turned to find one of the bar employees standing over my friend in between two cars with his arm raised. My friend’s head was either on the curb, or very near it. I began to move toward them, when I heard rushing footsteps from behind me. I spun around and came face to face with a police officer running with his body leaning forward, around the corner. I tried to explain things, but he yelled, “Move. Move or I’ll tase you.” I got angry. My adrenaline was already pumping and all I had wanted to do was de-escalate the violence; but then my Marine Corps Training came into play and I began reacting as a soldier might against an enemy combatant who means you physical harm. I stepped toward him and backed him up about 7 steps. In the meantime he had pulled his taser or stun gun out and was pointing it at my chest, his voice was quavering, almost as if he was scared and going through puberty. “Move or I will tase you. I mean it.” Again, I had a choice of whether or not to resort to violence. Had I stayed in the Marine Corps more than the two years and attained Corporal; perhaps I would have. Marines are not known for their restraint in bar fights and their egos are sizeable for what they have had to endure. There is a tremendous amount of pride instilled during the training, and even a culture of contempt for the civilian or other armed forces is encouraged. Despite all this, I simply stared him down wary of any threatening movement – I was not going to be the first one to engage – and when I saw that he was reluctant to attack me, I quickly ran around to the other side of my friend who was now lying on his back in the middle of the sidewalk. Soon other police officers arrived, and while I was kneeling over my friend, asking him if he was ok, I heard a female voice tell me to put my hands behind my back. I yelled back, “I’m not trying to hurt anyone; I’m just trying to help my friend.” I yelled that several times, in order to set the right intention and communicate my non-violence. The officer I had originally faced, came up behind me and put his stun gun or taser to my back. I stood up and clasped my hands as if in prayer. They kept yelling for me to put my hands behind my back and the officer tried to pull my hands apart so that he could cuff them. He could not. I kept saying the same thing over and over again. “I’m not trying to hurt anyone; I’m just trying to help my friend. But no matter how many times I said this, they continued the assault. The officer behind me placed the stun gun against my back again, in an effort to weaken me by sending electricity through my muscles, causing them to clench powerfully until, they would completely tire. But I was determined to stand my ground, for I felt that a great injustice was occurring; and I believe that injustice, no matter the source needs to be dealt with face to face – non violently if possible. When the officer’s tactics did not work, he reached around and sprayed me in the face. First in one eye, and then in the other. Since he had been in contact with me, his continuing to send electricity through me in order to make me more compliant resulted in his being the recipient of some of that electricity. I even heard another officer laughing, when the officer cried out in pain and surprise. I did not; because I have undergone some pain-tolerance. Finally, someone hit me in the legs with something very much like a flying football tackle, and while I was on the ground an officer; I’m not sure which one; but I would hazard a guess as to it being the original one I had contact with – kept placing the instrument against my back and turning on the electricity. I was struggling on the ground, at which point he placed it on my back again; but this time left it there for what seemed like an agonizingly long time. It was then that I cried out; and it was then that most of the strength left my body. At some point while on the ground, the female officer told me to turn over on my stomach; I told her that I was trying, and that is when she placed a booted foot on my body and thrust forward, flipping me over. I couldn’t see much because my eyes were tearing up from the mace or pepper spray and I had contacts in…not a good combination. I was spitting up on the ground, trying to get the burning stuff out of my mouth, and one of the officer’s – I believe the female one, put a net over my face.
If you have never received this kind of treatment by “peace officers”, then you don’t have much of an idea how you might react. I never struck out at any of these officers; even though they were doing very inhumane things to me.
I have wound up physically assaulted by Boulder Police on more than one occasion. One of those times, while I was in jail, I decided against a plea bargain against the advice of some Legal Defenders, in order to secure a trial-by-jury. But that is a story for another time.
What I want to convey, here, is that when you have no money or very little; and no home of your own, you are viewed, and treated as if you are a second-class or third-class citizen. And the city can get away with doing exactly that, because you have no leverage with which to defend yourself. Your reputation is attacked. By virtue of having no money and no home, you are put in a category of someone who lazy, or violent, or has a criminal mind. The funny thing, is that this “system”, whether consciously or not, is designed to eventually turn you into a criminal, even if before you were exposed to it’s particular mode of coercion, you were a perfect, model citizen. It is much, much harder for those individuals who have taken it upon themselves, early on in their school days to question that which has been “taught” to them by the powers that be. As a kid, I had many questions. I had a gentle nature, which turned only to violence when it could see no other way of securing it’s god-given rights to peace and liberty. I was labeled, early on, as a trouble-maker. I was highly intelligent, creative, and saw a world of wonder; yet I couldn’t understand why the adults around me; and even most of the kids acted the way that they did. There was a soul inside which screamed that something was very wrong. I didn’t know HOW wrong at the time; and it was only through trying to become an individual and think for myself, when I came against the well-oiled machine of the ‘system’. This made me dangerous. I was dangerous, because if I could think and act differently, it was possible that I could persuade others to do the same; and the power of the ‘system’ depends on fear, and ignorance of your rights.
I took two tests in high school to measure my brain. In both I was placed almost squarely in the middle. Left vs. Right Brain; and Concrete/Sequential and Abstract/Random. This means that I tend to think wholistically. It also means that my mental state is mostly balanced, except for those times when there is a spike in my emotions – which are simply electro-chemical impulses PRODUCED by a master gland in my brain. Since I’ve discovered meditation, I have slowly, and over a great deal of time, learned to more and more re-wire the connections in my brain or the neural pathways of how I used to deal with stress. This translates to a fact that even when I am placed or place myself in an extremely chaotic environment, where normally, (any normal person) might have a breakdown, or resort to the limbic brain – the Freeze, Fight or Flight mode that we ALL have been genetically programmed, over millions of years to respond with — I still, am able to respond in an almost tranquil manner, with a calm and centered mind and emotional set, more and more often, lately. This means that I am able to function in very stressful situations. – Situations, that even some managers of companies, police officers, and many other supposedly well-balanced individuals would have a nervous breakdown from. One of the keys is that I have already had some complete nervous breakdowns. This is something which the military is highly aware of. They use it extensively in their basic training to create soldiers which are able to re-act in war-time/war-like environments, in such a way and to such a degree of accuracy, that they are able to continuously make razor-edged and split-second decisions with a very low percentage of error. For example, less people get killed, and the unit or team accomplishes their mission, because of the fluid communication and the wise decisions which have to be made time and time again by those tested to their breaking/failure point. It is this testing to the breaking/failure point, and then the resetting of mind, emotion and intent, which sets those who succeed massively and those who just scrape by in life. Schools do not teach this. They teach the opposite. They teach you to be afraid of failure. They build a contempt of failure and strivance toward perfection through their inadequate grading system. Teamwork on tests and quizzes, for the most part, is deemed to be cheating. Yet, in real life, we are not so much graded on whether we, as individuals know the material; but on how we can work together and apply what, we as a community have learned. I have attempted to incorporate this new understanding into the way I approach the challenges in my life.
And, when I was in the military, I was anything, BUT calm, cool and collected. I was rash, angry, frustrated, afraid, lonely, and insecure; however, AFTER I left the Marines, my real education began, and I began to consciously form my own CHARACTER based on the values I cherished when I was a child, and some that I have been exposed to since then, and have embraced because of their alignment with what I feel to be true in my soul.
I have mounting hospital bills, from the lifestyle that I was trying to get out of, nearly dying from Staph Infection, in the process of getting healing from a group of Contact Improve dancers in the local area.
But I stuck it all out, and finally managed to get the attention of a non-profit organization which works very hard to house homeless people. I was one of the lucky ones, and every day, I am so grateful for the voucher which allows me to live in this apartment. Without it, I would be back on the streets, without showers, proper food, and sometimes forced to sleep outside in the rain or the snow. There are shelters and warming centers, but they aren’t always open due to many factors which, at the moment, I don’t have the time or space necessary to go into in depth.
This concludes the brief (and it is brief, though it may appear long) personal history, which if you took the time to read, should help give you the context needed to understand where I’m coming from in all the articles, poetry and my choice of what to reveal of myself in the future.
If you would like to get in touch with me with comments or questions, then don’t hesitate to email me at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I reserve this email address just for replies to my blogs. I will attempt to be timely in my own response, because I care about reaching out and creating a world which our grandchildren’s grandchildren would cherish and take care of. If I judge the email to be less than that of high character, I reserve the right to refuse to respond. So please, be kind and considerate to the writer, and he will, in turn, be kind and considerate to you!
This is the soul/sole creation and possession of:
David Lee Madison, Jr.
~KnavetheMage – Twitter
Think only of that which you would have appear before your very eyes
I AM Becoming/Crystallizing my Form and Essence of: Superman, Wizard, Warrior, Jedi, Shaman, Fool, Master Creator, Magus…star-seeded human being. I AM clothed in ALL Roles; subject to none…
~anewoldsoul – mylot.com
WordPress – “Synergy”, suprememasterjedi, “Poetry by 34”, “Other People’s Poetry”, “The Bathtub Philosopher”
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Friday, March 8, 2014 – 03:33