T for Tom


Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on May 24, 2012

It’s not so bad, really.


I’m Going To War

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on May 5, 2012

I’m going to war. The dirty kind where souls are lost and lives cost is cheap. But everything will be all right. I am very real and so too is this world we live in.

As I write this I’m on a ferry to Helsinki, crossing the icy waters of the Gulf of Finland by boat to see a Nordic land, a Finnish people, something foreign. It was snowing this morning when I walked to the dock and I didn’t mind that my head got soaked, coated tenderly with little bits of sleet that ran like water down my face. Soon enough the sky was blue and the sun came out. This whole springtime journey has been covered in snow, but I didn’t mind that either – a white Easter morning in Salzburg, an unexpected snowfall in Prague, and long walks through Tallinn’s old town with Jack Frost nipping at our toes. Frankly magical, unreal, sublime, and too much for my heart to hold. This is good.

For soon my heart will be empty and my head full of the burden of war, man’s worst invention. If his best engineering has given us flight, we quickly strapped missiles on the wings and it’s my job – literally – to make sure it is always ready to fire. And on the receiving end is no one, everyone, and myself. I’m aware that I could die, perish, and have left no great legacy near to what my dreams envision for myself. Somewhere in the ether I believe that my life will be remembered, like a sage, a poet, a muse, a thinker, and all willing this will come to pass. Each living day after all gives me more, more breath, more scars, move love, more adoration for the earth in its entirety. But none of this would I have if not for the pledge of war. So be it.

Nothing about my life can be wrong if I can taxi to Helsinki by boat, march the streets of Belgium, taste the wine in Italy, see the mountains of Austria, know the beautiful women of Europe, and be at once and for all abroad in the greatest canvas we know – humanity at large. But humanity demands a lot of us. To pay bills, pay taxes, raise a family, go to church, ad consume us with enough nonsense to make us forget that life is a choice. I for one refuse to die slowly. This is the choice I have made.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m fine with the choice I’ve made – to go to war. Surely I will miss all of you, from the friends I’ve always had to the friends I’ve only recently gained, the family I’ve always had to the one I’ve not yet met, from the tender ones to the cruel ones, sweet to disparaging, courteous to inconsiderate, jovial to scrooge, rich to callous, ally or foe. I will miss you all. You have all played a part in getting me here, and for that I can’t thank you enough.

What I also want you to know is that I’m scared this will be last remarks. My greatest fear is that I won’t return, not in this capacity. And I mean to say that I’d rather die in the desert than have my greatest asset ruined by war – my mind. The toll of battle has effects on everyone differently, but no one comes back the same. To think that I might lose my ambition to write, to speak, to continue searching and living for questions that have no answers, that to me is horrifying. What are we doing if not looking for the meaning to our life? I recently told a girl that I’m not a bad person, I’m just trying to find the meaning of being good. I know it doesn’t exist but I won’t accept giving up on trying.

What I know so far is that people are good. All across the planet we are not too different. Everyone is just looking for their version of love and happiness. Everyone is just trying to have something and someone to hold. If I’ve ever held you or been held by you, my eyes will never tell the full tale of the winds I soared while in your arms. We have only each other, and every minute is a lifetime. To ask more than what is present, to pass a day of love in want of a lifetime, is ludicrous. Get out there and make love one day at a time, it’s all we have. Maybe eventually the pieces will align. But for now, no one has tomorrow.

And this is the war I see in people’s hearts and minds. Afraid to risk the idea of a settled lifetime for the chance at a day’s worth of joy or rich experience. Often these days leave with us a lifetime’s worth of impressions. But the battle against security is often wrought with shaking hands and indecision. Not to dance, not to drink, not to sing, not to bring life to the dull spectrum of living we call shopping malls and pool halls and court halls and downtown bars and church pews and HOV lanes and school rooms an conference centers and bus fares and garages and three bedroom/two bath dream homes and walking down the aisle – no, these things drag on like machines, and the ones who throw paint at the walls are carted off to rot in the asylum. But I say that the cure for insanity is not medication for a few, but to instead call all of us crazy. At least then we’re on level footing. I am proudly no exception.

…Picking this back up I’m now at a Finnish restaurant enjoying aged scotch, reindeer soup and veal top round, with a glass of wine. Where else could I receive such joy? Where else could I exhume the bones of the soul inside me? Where else but in the world could I be so alive? And how is I feel like I’m the only one? No, I regret none of this. Not one minute. The battle I wage is not in the mind but in the desert, with guns and not with conscience. I’ve made peace with myself, that by making war I can calm my own soul.

Does that sound idiotic?

If it were not myself it would be someone else. The army is only numbers, only faces in uniforms, and I am only one of millions around the globe sworn to fight for whatever paper crosses the president’s desk.


My life individual is enriched because of the things I can now afford – world travel and unpredictability. This trip was put together on a whim, by a choice to go places and meet people and see again beautiful faces I know of this side of the pond. Everyone but myself went home (?) to the states for whatever reason, but I spent 24 solid years there – and mostly I got nothing. Debt, heartbreak, cynicism, lust, debauchery. I can’t think of too many things that were good during my time as a patriot. A few friends maybe. An education? I don’t use it, at least not in the professional sense. And my friends, though I love them, are still where I left them. May the best come to them all. But if I never return I am sure to never see them again. This life process, the loss of friends and family through time and separation and not by death, is called growing up. If you’re still mostly where you were as a child, you have failed to grow up. Sorry. Am I saying I’m there? That I’m grown up? Hardly. Just that I’m trying. And being in another hemisphere is only a small step. There is much to go.

Even the desert is a place to go. Ten months in armed conflict should reveal a large nature of mankind, and of myself. These things I want to know. I have seen Rome, I have seen Los Angeles, I have seen financial, industrial, and entertainment capitals of the world. I have seen the greatest achievements of mankind. But of the worst? I am a few days away. I am not sure if I will hold the hand of a dying soldier or see the splatter of blood on the ground. My job is not that frontal to the line. But, surely, it is still war. Even the chaplain’s aren’t safe from the battle lines, and everyone changes, a little or a lot. How do I know? Simple – how many of you have done this? How many of you have risked it all to gain it all? Double or nothing. I’m rolling the dice.

So when you see me at the craps table of life, bet strong that I’ll at least try. Maybe you can join me in the underground bars in Germany, or along the Salzach waters of Austria, or next to the Colysœm for a bottle of wine, or the beaches of Barcelona for sun and waves, or the Alps of the Swiss for the views, or the pubs in Belgium for the beer, or anywhere everyone all the places that have and haven’t been. Don’t you want this? Am I the only one?

(I’m getting drunk).

I feel like everyone around me is on an assembly line, buying, shopping, fucking, breeding, working, dying, and I say NO. JUMP OFF. Grab the nearest vine and swing like a monkey, for all your life depends on it! Act out, be wild, do all the things everyone warned you not to do, drink too much, fuck around, quit your job, shred your taxes and walk away, saying NO, I won’t be another cog, I won’t be another nail in the coffin of creativity. You have nothing to lose. Don’t act like this is some minor preamble to an uncertain future and recognize where and when you sit as LIFE. Hollywood told you to not let it pass you by and I’m telling you sometimes Hollywood is right. Stop fighting within the system and start fighting the system itself. It starts by dropping everything you’ve ever known to learn as you go. Hopefully you’ll go many places, each of them far away. That’s where I’m going after all. Maybe it’s easier when you don’t have a home. I don’t know if that helps. But whatever you do, skip like a rock across the water, landing new places but leaving ripples where you’ve been. That is something to hold onto. Not the people and the places, don’t hold onto that. Hold onto the idea that moving and shaking does the whole world good. When you’re smiling, don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

And if you never do, I ask that you not judge me. I’ve never lived according to the rules. So when its time to be rational, I’m going to war.

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