Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Onward They Rode.

I originally posted this on Face Book but decided to post it here too. This was my gut response to the Bikers who rode to DC to honor those who had fallen 12 years ago and the ones who died last year.

Onward They Rode.

And the ground trembled
Thunder filled the air,
As on they came.

From the West Coast
They rolled ever onward,
Across desert and mountain.

The Great Plains were alive,
Not with buffalo, but bikes,
Like great herds of old they gathered.

Out of the North they rolled,
Up from the South they came
From every state came the roar.

Citizens, every shape and color
On horses made of Iron
Rolling ever onward.

Bikes carrying Patriots
Bringing the message,

And in the memory
Of those tragic days they cried

Onward they rode
Defying the bureaucrats
Our permit is the Constitution.

Into the Capital they rode
People cheering them on
From the highways they cried out

Let Freedom Ring they thundered
And the ground shook
The air carried the rumble.

America saw her people,
Once more rise up in her name
As onward they rode.

Edd Voss 9/10/2013 revised 9/11/13
If you share this please keep my name with it. That is all I ask.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

When you're going through hell.

There is a song out there by country artist Rodney Atkins titled "If You're Going Through Hell" that contains a great piece of advice for us all. The basic message of the song is, keep moving. Last trip out was a bit of a bear, lots of little annoyances and few larger ones, but by just pushing on a little farther I got through it. Usually that means the next trip will be better, but that is yet to be seen.

I am at home finishing up a week long vacation, that I almost missed, but the company stepped up and got it accomplished. It has been one of those really rejuvenating pauses. I did accomplish a couple of major tasks that needed to be done before winter sets in, but most of all I got to share some time with my oldest granddaughter and her boyfriend and my wife. Part of the fun was introducing this young man to the world of shooting sports.

The point of it all is, that even in the darkest times of my life, and there have been a few, the one thing that got me through them was the constant placing of one foot in front of the other. Everyone I know who is accomplished, and happy in life has learned that same lesson. Another old quote that has sustained me in the dark times reads "Tough Times Never Last, Tough People Do" it is also the title of a book by Robert Schuller, the founder of the Chrystal Cathedral, and a song by Trace Atkins, another country singer. Like the allegory of the Forge we all go through tough times and have to find the will to take, just one more step.

So at o'dark thirty I will drag my butt out of bed and take the early morning flight to start the long, time wise at least, journey back to the truck and go back to doing what makes my living. Along the way I will find the time to finish the book I am working on and possibly start another one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Everyone has those moments when you are faced with a decision that will change your life. At the time you probably have no idea how much that choice will affect you. In my life there have been many little incidents that caused me to correct things but the one that really had the most overall impact happened in Jump School. I stood facing a Special Forces captain, who was telling me that I wasn't good enough at physical training, and that I should just drop out of the class.

Let me take a moment to explain that yes, I wasn't real good at PT. The instructors were not being mean, they were thinking of my own safety and the safety of those around me. As hard as they were on us it was to make sure that we would be in the best shape possible and better prepared for the rigors of being an Army Paratrooper. So I had a choice to make, should I agree with them and give up, go back to the unit and take up my regular job in the Photo Section? Come on what would it matter? I wasn't going to try for the Special Forces Qualification Course. I was happy being a photographer. The other option was to stick with the class and put myself in the position of going through a lot more PT and very strenuous training. There were a lot of people who knew that I didn't like PT and were sure that I wouldn't make it through. A few people thought otherwise, they believed in me.

Without a lot of time to think it over, I took control of that icy feeling deep down in my gut and told the captain that he would have to throw me out, but I refused to quit. That momentary burst of bravado paid off, not only did I graduate I was acknowledged as the most improved student. Over the years since that choice it has become a touchstone. Something I bring back up when life gets tough, or a project has me stymied. Giving up is not an option until I have tried everything I can think of. Trying something new is not as scary because I know what I am capable of.

Everyone of us has those moments that can define their lives, it is up to us as individuals to decide, give in, or dig down deep and find the courage to try harder.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Past, future and present.

Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow a mystery,
Today is a gift,
That is why it is called the present.

This bit of wisdom has been on my mind lately. Too many times we take something like this and think it is the path we should follow. The problem is that it isn't a path of any kind. It leads to meandering around looking for what seems good at the moment. While that might feel good in the moment it doesn't lay the ground work for the long run. I know people who live for the right now and wonder why they have nothing solid to look forward to beyond the moment.

Yesterday is History.
That is one of those statements that can not be argued, because it is true. That doesn't mean that we should pack it away and just forget about it. Each one of us has our own history, all with triumphs and tragedies. What has happened in the past isn't what is important, for every one who has had to face terrible things in their past there is someone who has had it worse. The important thing is not what happened, rather it is how you choose to deal with it. Will that tragedy give you strength, or will it break you? Only you can make that choice.

Tomorrow a mystery.
True again, no one knows what the future may bring, not even those people on TV who keep telling you that they can see it. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan for it. It may be nothing more than socking away some money in the bank for a rainy day. If you live for today only, why would you want to strive for the education to get a job or career?

Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.
While it may be truly a gift, it will be wasted unless you use it to make things better. Today is what you have that you can do something about now. It may be as small as deciding to walk a little farther, or not spend that money on a coffee, and instead put it in a jar to save. Pick up a book on a subject that really interests you.  Use today as the beginning of the journey ahead.

My version would go something more like this.

Learn from your history,
Plan for the future,
And work your tail off today, so that it can come true.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wheat and Chaff

I am not sure where this train of thought is coming from. First talking about the crucible and the forge now thinking about the wheat and the chaff. It must be something we all do as we get older. Looking back at my life I can see certain moments when I thought I was in some really bad situations on a personal level. You could say I was lost in the chaff, the part of the wheat plant that is of little use. Then out of seemingly nowhere I would find a kernel of pure whole wheat. The substance that makes the flour which in turn becomes the bread, or pancakes, or cake, or so many other things.

Each one of these little nuggets could have been missed, ignored, or allowed to spoil, it depended on what I chose to do with them. Thankfully I was able to take most of them and turn them into experiences that enriched my life beyond measure. Usually these tidbits would come in the way of a comment made by someone. Not always someone that I thought very highly of. A couple of times they came from people I down right despised, but something made it through.

As far as I know there is no magical instrument that can glean these tiny little pieces of nutrition out for you. That is something you will have to find for yourself. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is to be quiet. Especially when you are being reprimanded or just plain chewed out for something. Then when you can get past the emotion and think about what happened to get you in that situation, you can go over the information. Look at what was said by the person correcting you and be honest with yourself about it. Was the person correct in their assessment? If so what can you take away from the experience to avoid it in the future.

Every time life seems to be beating you down remember it is just the threshing floor, separating the wheat from the chaff. You can get lost in the chaff, or you  can take sometime to find the wheat. The choice is always yours. While you may not control what happens to you, you can control how you react to it.   

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crucible or Forge?

For years I thought of the Crucible as the formation of something. Instead the crucible is a container that is used to heat substances then hold them until they are ready to be poured into the mold. The Forge on the other hand is where metal is shaped and strengthened. While both are all about shaping the metal, it is the Forge that gives it strength.

What has any of this got to do with anything of importance? As humans we can make a choice as to how we allow life's circumstances affect us. I just recently dealt with one of those occasions. It was the anniversary of my daughter's death. Before we go any farther let me say, "this is not about gaining sympathy, it is what happened." I always feel that when I bring this up everyone wants to tell me how sorry they are and it gets uncomfortable. The only reason I bring it up is because it is what inspired this post and it is useful to explain the difference in the philosophical point I am hoping to make here.

This incident in my life started out as a crucible, the pain of it was almost paralyzing in the beginning as anyone can imagine. The heat of my emotions melted my heart into molten state. I felt strong emotions but they were constantly in turmoil and easily changed by the container they were in. Jobs lost interest, love affairs were constantly coming and going. With every new experience came a new emotional container for those molten feelings. But they never quite took solid form. When they began to cool down, it was time to change the shape of the crucible, by heating everything up and pouring it into a new container.

It was many years after that event that I began to find the mold I wanted those emotions shaped into. I found a career that I have enjoyed and a family that I love. Once my emotions cooled in the mold, they were then put back into the fire and heated up. When everything was glowing as bright as possible they were put on the anvil and beaten into shape, just before they reached the breaking point it was time for the ice. It wasn't the crucible that gave me strength, it was the forge. Before I could become the person I wanted to be, I had be malleable first then tempered in the forge. Remembering the lessons I learned in the Army and in Jump School helped, once I chose to be in the forge I had the choice of letting it make me stronger or letting it break me completely. Neither course is easy to take but the crucible is not meant to make you stronger, it just the beginning, a time to find the mold you want for your life, it is the forge that makes the difference.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Shade series.

I originally wrote the short story Shade for fun. It was a play on the old radio series "The Shadow" from the early years of radio. He was character who could cloud men's minds, so that they couldn't see him. In a day and age where people tend to trust their technical devices more than the senses they were born with, it was more important that my character be able to fool the computers. It also played on one of my favorite novels by Dean Koontz titled Dark Rivers of the Heart. In this book Koontz creates a tech savvy group that lives off the grid. These were some of the inspiration for the Subgridders in my Shade Series. I even took the code phrase that Koontz used in his book as a way of recognizing each other. Of course I gave him due credit for the whole idea. What keeps me writing this series?

Just look around at the news and you will find the answer. We have the media praising an athlete for admitting that he is gay while forgetting the deaths of real heroes in Benghazi and other places. To protect our children from drug addiction, and sexual diseases we teach them about drugs and sex. To protect them from guns we ban the gun, where is the logic in that? Some people are telling us that our children are not ours, but that they belong to the community in general. These are the concepts that Orwell warned us about in his book 1984 which scared everyone in my generation to death. It also helped me design the world in which the series takes place.  More and more our society is looking like Huxley's Brave New World where long term relationships and family life are considered detrimental to society. Our children are given heroes that really aren't heroic at all. Instead of people who make sacrifices for others, we tend to glorify the villains and entertainers. We know the names of everyone who committed a mass shooting, but who can name the policeman of fireman who saved the lives of the survivors?  All of these works of literature have played a part in the creation of the world in which Shade and his companions live.

The world has been turned upside down, good is now bad, logic is irrelevant, common sense is ridiculed, and it is scary to think that this is the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren. The bright side of it all is that there will always be the people who live on the land. They were the ones who got us through all of the hard times in the past and they will be the ones who get us through the hard times of the future. It will be those that remember the lessons of our grandparents who survived the Great Depression, fought WWII that will keep the flames of liberty and freedom alive. It is the hope that readers will take a new look at how we are living today, and where are grandparents lived to find the balance that will keep this dystopian world from becoming real.