There comes a point in life that dreaming about what makes you happy simply isn’t enough. Well, at least it did to me. It sure didn’t happen overnight and a lot of different things contributed to the realization of what that is, over a considerable period of time.
The tears, fears, disappointments, hurts, people, circumstances, PEOPLE, did I say PEE POLES?!!!
… you name it.
It was this lingering feeling that I always pushed to the side, thinking I will do it when I have this, or when I have this and that figured out.
But one fine day, life twisted my arm and kicked me in the nuts and instead of drowning in tears or uncertainty, I decided to just fucking do it. I don’t like to cuss, but I want to be honest here. So, if that offended you, I’m sorry, then again, I’m not. The preceding lines will explain as to why I am not. The apology was for formalities sake. But we don’t care about that anymore do we? Trump’s proof of that!
Anyway, that’s how I felt after everything I’ve gone through that month and the years leading up to that FINE day. So, as it is with most major decisions in life, with a lot of uncertainty and tons of faith to make it work no-matter-how, I convinced myself that time for me to live was NOW!
If you happen to know me in real life, you would know me as however you describe me behind my back to someone that’ll never tell me how you described me. Mostly nice, I hope, if not, I don’t care if you can’t say it to my FACE.
But we all know that who we really are and what we really want in life are often buried deep inside of the facade and the act we put on in public. Yeah, ACTORS/ACTRESSES! it’s not a secret anymore. We all act. That’s why we wrap our privates in fancy cloth! Or you are afraid they’ll fall off?
Well, at least most of us don’t go around wearing a robe that outline all things we hope to be and do in life. Heck, I didn’t even have a clue of how I could live out just this one aspect of one of my life-long dreams. And I am not saying that I am living it out just yet, but I’m sure as hell close to it than I was ever before.
Life … well I’ll stop about life right there. I have no clue what life is yet. I’d be lying to you if I was to say it’s this or that. So, let’s say this one passion of mine was a huge driving force for me to go get my education, but it also made me miserable when I realized that even with that (with added nonsense after my name), I didn’t happen to be one of the lucky ones that could just go out and do it.
The best way to describe what I experienced from time to time since that one FINE day when life twisted my arm, is “there’s no pearl without pain.” These are my grandmothers words that I reminisce whenever sorrow tries to dominate my mind. Sorrow is real (and normal in subjective doses), in case you are one of those that think it’s only for sissies or think that you need deliverance every time you feel it. No offense, but I’d rather not hear about it if that’s what you think. That said, I hardly express it. It’s really none of anyone else’s business anyway.
So, yeah, again about that day. That FINE day: What felt like an utter robbery of my efforts, a squeezing out of brainpower like orange juice from an orange, I was able to hand over to the hands of the almighty and say, well, justice, you take care of this one. And me? I’m going to hit the road.
So, here I am, at 4:00 am, waiting for a connecting flight for 6 hours (for an hour’s worth journey) popping Tylenol to cope with the shivers and fever, yet, happy though, as a freezing kid in the snow, finally having the balls to write about that FINE day. So, in this interpreted version of what happened, things are cool. Stellar. Fantastic. Rockin’. And most importantly, FREE. Yeah. FREE. SO, SUCK IT. Or Swallow it!
My flight will be in less than two more hours. Ciao!
While we were on an off-road hike, it started to rain and snow from time to time. At the time, we got a bit nervous because we had hiked non-stop for a few hours and had a few hours back down through the woods. Later on, while getting close to our campsite, I realized that:
The short stops we took because of the rain was much needed for everyone in the group to recover
The rain cooled things-off when it started to get a bit too hot
Sometimes things won’t make sense right then and there. But, when you reflect back, from a fresh perspective, even the unpleasant moments can be seen in a different light.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes your strength in one area can be a weakness in another. If I had to tried to outrun my friend that was trailing ahead of me, I might have gotten too exhausted to enjoy the scenic views once I got there. I decided that in order to keep up with him, I was going to keep a steady pace and take shorter breaks.
My friend’s approach, which worked for him, was to sprint through large steps and take a long break once he reached flatter ground. My competitive nature wanted to do the same, but I didn’t want to be exhausted. In the end, we both reached our destination simultaneously.
3. Take a minute or two … or three!!!
I always find myself torn between wanting to stop at every beautiful spot and taking a picture Vs. wanting to blaze my way to the top as fast as I can. Part of me wants to savor the beautiful wild flowers and skip rocks on still waters, and the other part is in a rush to get to the “grand view”.
This time around, since I wasn’t rushing through, I took time to appreciate the wildflowers. I am so glad that I did. We can get too caught up on the future and forget to live the present. My past, now, is perhaps a bit more colorful, because I took those stops and didn’t power through the hike. If I was to look at a video of the hike, there will be more footage of me taking-in the beauty of Adam’s Falls than me panting, trying to catch my breath. There are times you make a run for it and times you pace yourself.
Here’s a short video of a few hikes that we took in Boulder and at the Rocky Mountain National Park, CO.
At times tossed, turned or even rattled,
Rain comes- rain goes,
Yesterday, today or tomorrow?
Sunny days- warm smiles,
Minutes pass, don’t come back.
Cold nights- frozen tears,
Mock away past cheers,
Wind blows: leaves fall,
Child throws away the doll.
New day: same measures,
Past rules- past fears.
Stone wall- false hope,
Tossed away across the shore.
Birds fly, snakes crawl,
Dog barks but mountains don’t Fall!
In a world where human interactions are getting reduced to a behavioral analysis, the challenge my friends, is to disrupt that ridiculous analysis.
We humans are not robots. We were endowed with free will. The day that we become predictable, we will become programmable.
Our brains were created with the ability to conjure up endless possibilities and realities. A program, no matter how advanced, can only do tasks that it was programmed to do, by a HUMAN.
After all, it’s our unquenchable thirst for creativity that brought about the concept of a program and the ability to create it. So, aren’t we hindering the natural progression of advancement by trying to amend its progress with our finite “wisdom” and the poisonous need for control, when we try to program fellow humans that have unique talents and unfathomable capacity that a machine or any amount of practice will never be able to replicate?
Programming and randomness
Routines are great, but the randomness of a falling leaf is what makes the world beautiful.
The randomness of nature has a purpose. Nothing happens on accident. Instead of laboring to exercise more control over each other, we should labor to accept, understand, and truly respect one another.
That’s why in a band, the bass player doesn’t try to play exactly what the electric guitarist play. That ability to tune into a common frequency makes a sound so pleasing to the ears that it makes the cells in our bodies jump in ecstasy. That’s why we are constantly searching for something new. That’s why we get tired of the mundane and crave adventure.
Programming and certainty
The unknown shouldn’t make one fearful. It should stir-up excitement. After all, some say that our realities are shaped by what we attract with our minds. Most of the problems in the world today is due to distrust and an absurd superiority complex that overrides our ability to look at issues without bias or preconceived notions.
Sometimes learning means unlearning things that block progress. Just like it only takes a spark to light a fire, it only takes one positive thought in the right direction for our un-programmable-selves to learn to think differently.
With a rainbow-colored Mohawk and numerous tattoos and body piercings, including on his tongue, just about everyone at the Mercyhurst Police Academy in Erie, PA figured Mark Rayman, fresh out of high school, would wash out quickly.
Though the unruly teenager learned to adapt –“Mark had to tone down his style and opinions enough to fit into police work,” says his wife, Melinda – the tobacco-chewing cop is still regarded as something of a rebel among his fellow officers at the Little Elm Police Department after three and a half years on the job.
“I don’t think he likes to ‘go along to get along’ if you know what I mean,” says Mark’s field training officer, Sgt. Drew Mitchell. “The good side of this is that he relates so very well to many walks of life that others can’t. There are segments of our society that Mark can communicate with that I could never.”
One night, for example, the two officers stopped a group of mischievous teenagers whom they thought “were up to no good.” But instead of hauling the juveniles down to the Little Elm police station for questioning, Patrol officer Rayman, who stands 6 foot four and weighs 210 pounds, jumped on one of their skateboards and performed a few tricks, dazzling the teenagers.
His methods of handling troubled teenagers, says Sgt. Mitchell, have earned Officer Rayman a reputation as “being honest, fair and someone they can trust.” It’s also earned him the respect of his fellow officers. His ability to relate to teenage crowd“ is very valuable in our business and can help us get information in critical times,” says Sgt. Mitchell.
Not that the patrol officer is a pussycat around teenagers. On a recent patrol in Little Elm, Officer Rayman spots a young female driver at a gas station, hip hop blasting from her car speakers. The driver and her passengers aren’t wearing seat belts and toddlers in the back seat aren’t strapped into their car seats. Officer Rayman wants to know why. But the young lady, exuding a haughty air, acts as if she can’t hear Officer Rayman. That triggers a stern lecture from the policeman.
“Why do I have to hear your music?” he growls. “You can’t hear what I am listening to from my car, do you?”
Officer Rayman calls her mother on the phone, and waits for her arrival. As soon as she arrives at the gas station, the mother realizes her daughter is out of line and may be on the brink of getting a citation and fine. She admonishes her daughter and assures Officer Rayman she’ll be wearing her seatbelt and her passengers will be wearing their seatbelts from now on.
Officer Rayman, persuaded the mother will keep her pledge, lets the daughter and her passengers drive home without a citation and fine. Making sure teenagers wear seat belts has become one of his missions, he says, ever since he witnessed a terrible accident that killed a North Texas teenager, an event that has haunted him ever since.
“I-Don’t Wear A Seatbelt” Policy
The only person excluded from the officer’s “must-wear-a seatbelt” policy is Officer Rayman himself. “I don’t wear a seatbelt,” he tells a passenger while cruising on a dark and narrow road leading toward Little Elm one evening. “But I promise that we won’t be crashing tonight.”
His wife, Melinda, would say her husband’s “I-don’t-wear-a-seatbelt” declaration is a vestige of his rebellious youth. Though he’s now 41 and wears a well-ironed uniform and shiny shoes, “inside he is still the same old punk rock loving, fiercely independent, Pittsburgh boy,” she says.
Indeed, from the day he was born, Mark seemed to defy all manner of convention and conformity. He was born in a hospital hallway in Pittsburgh, not the maternity ward, because the staff didn’t believe Mark’s mother when she howled that her baby was coming out in the elevator. It wasn’t the first incidence of bad timing involving Mark’s birth. Mark’s mother vowed not to have any more children after her daughter was born with spina bifida. But she got pregnant just before Mark’s father had a vasectomy.
In school, Mark struggled, badly. Some of his teachers and many of his classmates thought he was either lazy or stupid. He frustrated his teachers with his poor reading skills and misspellings of even simple words. He’d reverse letters such as “d” for “b’, reverse the spelling of words such as “tip” for “pit” and invert letters such as “m” for “w” and “u’ for “n.” No one knew for sure what exactly was wrong with Mark, but everyone, including Mark, knew something was wrong with him. It wasn’t until years later that he would learn, from his future fiancé, that he suffered from a common learning disorder called dyslexia.
But outside the classroom, in the water, Mark was special. He could swim like a dolphin. At age five, he caught the attention of a coach who watched Mark propel himself across the pool like he was powered by a mercury engine. Before long, Mark was winning medals at the local, state and national levels. He was recruited by the swimming coach to attend Pine Crest Academy outside of Fort Lauderdale, FL, a prestigious high school well-known for developing Olympic caliber swimmers. His first year at Pine Crest, Mark set a record in the 100-meter backstroke.
But Mark left Florida and moved to North Huntington, PA after his father contracted stage 4 lung cancer. His father, a heavy smoker, died in December of 1997. At Norwin High School in North Huntingdon, Mark once again left his swimming coaches slack-jawed by his speed. During a state swim meet, Mark injured his right knee, strapped on a brace and still won first place. And he still holds the record in 100-meter backstroke at Norwin after 20 years.
Besides swimming, Mark loved music. Ever the maverick, Mark was attracted to the hard-edged, anti-establishment lyrics and the “I-don’t-care” attitude of punk rock. Mark taught himself to play drums and joined several punk bands, including Aus Rotten, that has since become an internationally famous punk rock band.
In 1993, Mark enrolled at Gannon University in Erie, PA. At Gannon, he joined the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, spending most of his time partying, playing pranks, drinking and running afoul of school administrators for everything from fighting to smashing a pumpkin.
Then Melinda moved into an apartment next door to Mark’s fraternity house. She was 24, a pretty brunette that attracted Mark’s attention and held it – even after he learned she was engaged. They became fast friends. But as Melinda recalls, “it wasn’t long until I had dumped my fiancé and Mark (dumped his) and I started hanging out as more than friends.”
Melinda thought Mark was bright, and was puzzled why he seemed to struggle academically. At the time, she was studying to become a school psychologist and convinced Mark to let her administer some special tests. She discovered that Mark suffered from dyslexia.
Melinda says the dyslexia findings “seemed to reinvigorate his spirit for school and learning.” After struggling with the English language for years, Mark decided to learn a foreign language and began studying Spanish.
Five years after they began dating, Melinda and Mark married in 2000. Today, they have three children. Mark’s eldest son, Connor, 14, bears a striking resemblance to his dad, and even walks and talks like him. Mark’s second son, Seth, 9, inherited his father’s unruly personality. Melinda often needles Mark, “See, I told you I would have my revenge when you had a son just like you.” Their three-year-old daughter, Aliya, resembles Melinda.
Melinda believes she knows Mark better than he knows himself. She says Mark tries to portray himself “as an unemotional, detached military type of guy, but underneath is a man with a very big heart.”
Showing Mercy to a Thief
Officer Rayman’s “big heart” was exposed in a recent encounter with a resident of Little Elm whom he suspected of selling stolen hockey and gym equipment. Officer Rayman drove to the thief’s house to confront him.
“So, this stuff isn’t stolen, right?”
“No way,” replied the thief.
“Well, that is interesting you say that because I think you are lying.”
The thief, rattled by Mark’s accusation, admitted to everything.
But instead of arresting the thief and charging him with selling stolen merchandise, Officer Rayman told him to stop stealing, handed him $20 and encouraged him to straighten out his life. The thief “thanked him profusely,” says Melinda.
Working in Pittsburgh, Officer Rayman also gave a boxer a break once. Melinda says he caught him stealing – a crime that, if found guilty, would have landed him in jail and ended his career. But Officer Rayman gave him a chance to redeem himself, and he did. “He’s now a pretty successful boxer from what Mark says,” according to Melinda. “He told Mark that he changed his life.”
Sgt. Mitchell, Mark’s field-training officer, agrees with Melinda. “Mark is one of the more genuinely caring people on this department. He doesn’t want or need praise but just does what he thinks needs to be done.”
Even though Officer Rayman may not seek praise, he’s earned high honors and distinction in all the police departments he’s been associated with during his 13-year career. Officer Rayman’s first job doing police work was in the McKeesport, PA. Police Department, where he worked for 10 years and was honored as a member of Allegheny County Narcotics Team. He is also a Certified Mountain Bike officer, SWAT certified, and Water Rescue Certified.
Officer Rayman has been with The Little Elm Police Department since July 2009. The department is made up of 36 sworn officers and around 10 civilian officers. The department deals with everything from family violence to sexual assault to drug-related offenses. Officers say they have their hands full dealing with calls from residents for every type of crime. From February 2012 to April 2012 (the latest period for which figures are available), all calls for service rose 17% and total arrests rose 59%.
But traffic citations dropped 39% during the same period, which may explain why Officer Rayman seems to relish nabbing speeders in his town. He pulls over to the side of the road and points to his radar screen, hoping it will light up with drivers ignoring the 45 mph speed limit on the street. “Come on! Do a 55,” he says, the 10-mile-over-the-limit threshold he’s set tonight for pulling over speeders.
Officer Rayman turns his radar on as vehicles draw closer to his patrol car. This ensures that even drivers with radar detectors do not have enough time to slow down before they’re caught on radar speeding. But as time speeds by sitting on the side of the road, the cars don’t. Finally, Officer Rayman spots a car roaring past the 55 mph threshold the officer has established for earning a ticket.
His lights flashing, Officer Rayman pulls over the car. It’s a Dallas Police officer. They exchange pleasantries and wave good bye. The officer says he’s not about to give a ticket to one of his own. A few minutes later, he chases down another speeder. He gets out of his patrol car with a citation in hand. Unfortunately, it’s a fireman and Officer Rayman feels obliged to let him go, too.
Tonight’s speed trap hasn’t caught any drivers, which disappoints Officer Rayman’s ride-along passenger. Overall, it was a rather dull night of patrol work. But there are other ways to see Officer Rayman’s devilish ways on display. The officer’s Facebook profile shows Jesus with a gun in his right hand and a bottle of wine on his left.
Does Officer Rayman’s Facebook page fairly represent a cop who can’t conform to the conservative, buttoned-down persona of a policeman? His wife certainly thinks so. “He is a tiger who loves his stripes and sees no need to change them for anyone,” she says. “He has always been a skateboarding, Vans wearing, ball cap wearing type of guy and that has never changed.”
Special Contributor to The Denton Record-Chronicle (Getschow edited).