16-Love Letters from Vietnam - Choose Joy
Note: To New Readers of the "Tim and Kate" Hubs
Catch up with all the love letters in the "Tim and Kate" series starting with May of '69 by clicking here: Link to Complete Index of Letters
Walk Down the Aisle - 2009
Author's note: Monday, July 27, 2009. I just noticed that embedding of the "Walk Down the Aisle" video on YouTube was disabled (most likely because of the amazing number of people accessing it). As I view this Hub page at the moment, the video still is functional. If it stops working, simply copy this url into your browser to view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0
6 August, 1969
How are you my love? Happy, I hope. I'm sure the kids at Wil-O-Brooke are keeping you busy and the counselors keeping you entertained. Probably too occupied to think about that lonely G.I. a thousand miles away who loves you.
How are your parents doing? What's you mother doing for excitement now that she doesn't have me to pick on? I'm just kidding. I know your mother likes me. But unfortunately, not as a son-in-law.
How are Matt and Anne doing? Are they still going strong? Hmmm! There sure has been a hell of a lot of questions in the last paragraph.
Well, today was my first full day of school at Fort Gordon. I can tell right from the start that the course is orientated more toward the practical than the theoretical. But perhaps that's just as well. My engineering courses at the U this far have been rather one-sided. It seems to be a good school here with well-equipped labs.
Now a brief summary of my day at Fort Gordon. I got up at 4:00; cleaned the barracks until 5:00, ate chow, and went on assorted details until 7:00 am. School starts at 7:00 and goes stright through until 3:00. After 3:00 you're more or less on your own, that is, unless the C.O. has plans for your time. Unfortunately, I arrived at the wrong time - just before a big inspection. I've been working like a dog trying to get ready for it.
Oh, did I tell you that I just made it to Fort Gordon on time! I was supposed to be here at 5:00 and I signed in at exactly 5:00. That's kinda close. But at the time I was too lonely and heartsick to care.
I've got to close now my love. I've got a lot of work to do. Please Katy, don't let my love cause you pain for it only wishes you joy and happiness.
When Given a Choice - Choose Joy
...and we always have a choice
Today, after typing the letter that Tim had written on August 6 forty years ago, I also happened upon the YouTube video, "Jill and Kevin's Big Day". I was struck by contrast between Tim and my relationship during the 60's and this couple's obvious relationship today.
As I read Tim's letter once again after all these years, it isn't the description of his day at Fort Gordon in Advanced Training that is meaningful and interesting to me. It is, instead his reference to 'not wanting to cause me pain.' Although only a small phrase in this seemingly newsy letter, it expresses the strongest element of our relationship.
As mentioned in previous Hubs, not only were Tim and I grappling with the question of whether it was more moral to go to the war than to resist the war, but we were also trying to decide whether it was more moral to make love before marriage than not to. It was a painful decision, especially for me, because unlike the young people in the "Jill and Kevin" video, I held on to many fears - fears of going against God, my religion, the Church. All were unnecessary fears.
It's obvious that the young people dancing down the aisle in the above video are fearless. Before making this decision, they could have wondered what family and friends might think; they could have worried about the woman minister, who from her outward mannerisms seems more of the "How Great Thou Art"/"Ave Maria" type of reverend. They could have been concerned that someone in the wedding party might not feel comfortable dancing down the aisle. But they didn't. These two young people are obviously confident in their decision-making, in their relationship, and in themselves. They made everything light and joyous. And then they posted it for all to see. A friend of mine emailed me that her yoga instructor, explained, after viewing this video, that we all love it because it is our true nature to be joyful.
Tim and I in the '60's, however, made everything heavy. "But," one might argue, "the times were 'heavy' - war, changing values, changing religious beliefs". That's true, but people are always going off to war and always there are changing values and transitions of religious beliefs. The point is that Tim and I made it all heavier than it needed to be. A psychologist might analyze why some people do that. Perhaps it's a hereditary tendency, perhaps it's learned from our families. If Tim and I had been like these two young people, perhaps all outcomes of our lives may have been different.
But rather than holding onto the "what if's" and "if only's" that might surface for those of us less courageous to be joyful than this couple dancing down the aisle, wouldn't it be better for us to say, "Let's try it!" .
Each hour we have decisions of joy to make. Just a few minutes ago, I was interrupted from writing this Hub by a phone call that reminded me of my bleak financial situation. I thought, "Here I am writing about choosing joy, and I can't choose it!" So at that moment, through my whinny tears, I got up from my chair, pushed my hands up into the air like the wedding party, and chanted, "I'm joyful, I'm joyful." You guessed it, it worked! So I say to you dear reader, "Try it." Right now. Get up, push your hands to the ceiling and say, "I'm joyful, I'm joyful." It works!"
So here's to the video that's more than a cute and funny portrayal of a wedding party dancing down the aisle. Here's to having the courage to choose joy. Here's to Jill and Kevin! To you, a lifetime of cheers.