PTSD alert: don’t squander away your life

A Teutonic Plate shifted inside of me.

I felt someone had thrown water at my face, had “hit me upside my head” and looked  me dead in the eye demanding my fullest attention. Have I been squandering away my life?

Wasting my life?

Why even ask this question now when my most productive years, the salary-producing ones have ended as I have “gone on disability” and live from the benefits provided by the Veterans Administration and not from my labor?

This question shook me to the marrow of my bones a few days ago. I was attending a workshop for veterans and their family facing PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) when I felt a Greek Chorus address me with its multiple grouping of male and female voices, advising me not to squander away my life.

Later, I asked myself what does it actually mean, this “squandering” business.

And does any one intentionally set out to squander a life away? Squander. Most people only use the word sparingly, and usually when money is the focus of the inquiry. We all have heard examples in our lives:  “He’s going to squander away his inheritance,” or “she squandered away all the money raised  for  little Jimmy’s operation,” and one of my favorites espoused by today’s pundits, ” George W. Bush squandered away all the Good Will America generated right after 9 – 11 .  .  .”

Squander” hardly ever appears alone. I normally see it used with the word, “away,” as in the loss of some unique skill. “We had so much hope in his potential, but he seemed to have ‘squandered away‘ his  .  .  .  (fill in the blanks   .  .  .”natural ability”   .    .    . “writing talent”   .   .   .   “singing career,” etc”)

But I’m not talking about forfeiting some achievement, great wealth or some future thing.

I’m talking about Life.

How does one squander that away?

(See Part II, Squander)


5 comments on “PTSD alert: don’t squander away your life

  1. […] Part III, Don’t Squander Away Life Originally Cont’d from don’t squander away your life 12-5-09 […]


  2. Lea Strongheart says:

    Dear Michael,
    When we were laughing, giggling, and passing notes during our meal times always looking over our shoulders to see if the dharma police were watching..we were most aligned with Christ…as little children. How about our hugging meditation? Now,there is some essay material.

    Your Friend,

    Divine Love Brings Together Those Who Belong Together…even if it is for only six days!!


    • contoveros says:



      I remember the meditation, the gigling, the hug, the spiritual longing to be with the Beloved. I would not have given it up for all the tea in China.

      Now, if you were to offer me a good cup of English Breakfast Tea, I might have to think twice on that!

      Just kidding.

      We were great, weren’t we? What joy the mere thought of that terrible trio of trouble-makers we made fills me with warmth and gladness.

      Michael J


  3. Debbie says:

    I was there at the retreat with you Mike and we shared meals for the entire time. Very insightful and moving.


    • contoveros says:

      Is that really you? My bed-sheet-folding partner in our community service career?

      Nah, somebody is putting me on. The Debbie I know has too many anger issues to write something as loving and pretty as the above. She possesses such a smile that angels would give up their immortality to wear but a single day.

      Did I just compliment you? Lord, this really is Debbie. She always had the ability to confuse me and get me talking at a table when I should not have been talking, and gigling like a first-grader immediately after teacher turns her back.

      Debbie, one third of a trio of true friends that formed in the Valley of the Omega Institure. Debbie, Michael and Lea.

      I hoped we could stay in touch and now I know synchronicity is at work for us.

      Read you later!

      Michael J


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