Chapter 9: Choosing One’s Attitude
You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
While writing this chapter on attitude, I received the following dream. This was a non-lucid dream, meaning that while I was experiencing the dream, I had no clue that I was dreaming nor did I have any conscious control over the events that were occurring. Even though the dream was a non-lucid one, the colors, emotions, environment, actions and reactions were so shockingly realistic that when I awoke, I had no problem recalling it and putting it down on paper. In the dream, I was an old man retelling and reliving the story at the same time.
It was World War II. Every day, while fighting the Nazis, my fear mastered most every moment. I knew I was fighting the devil. I knew that every day I was in hell. Yet, it was while in this hell that I met a very strange fellow who surprisingly ended up becoming my best friend. One of his peculiarities was that in the darkest of moments when things seemed hopeless, he did three pirouettes in the air like a ballerina and landed with the biggest smile on his face. I’m not sure what brought about that confident smile. Was it the guys breaking up with laughter, as this two hundred pound man danced in the air? Was it just a momentary shift into another world? I don’t know what it was, but after he landed and gave us his smile, things became different. We began by calling it the BD/AD effect, the before dance, after dance effect. The BD/AD effect was upgraded to “dad” (from BD/AD which spells DAD) which was upgraded to “father.” Thus, my friend was now simply known as “father.” In the scariest of moments one could ever imagine, at times when the only natural emotion of a sane individual was total panic and fear, at moments when we were in hell fighting the devil – these were the times father did three pirouettes, landed and gave us a big smile. Regardless of the hell we were facing, the moment would be lost and all we could do was look at each other and laugh. I had always believed that father was a little nuts, until the day he taught me the greatest lesson I have ever learned.
It was D-Day and a fierce battle broke out. I was driving a tank and providing cover for my men. It was looking very bad, and the Germans were giving us all they had. There was no retreat today, for this was hell and we were in the middle of it, fighting the devil ’til death. I just knew, had absolute knowledge that, today was the day I would die!
I was overcome by such fear during the battle that driving the tank and concentrating on covering my men was the last thing on my mind. Like flies on a trash can I could see, hear and feel bullets all around me, flying in every direction. I could see men exploding into pieces, some walking around without arms, some on the ground without legs. I felt like I had held back Satan for a long time and that I could hold him back no longer. I, in the most literal sense, saw myself on top of the tank holding a giant 10-foot tall, black, devilish, bat-like creature by its wings. I had grown so tired of holding it back that I knew I could hold it back no longer.
Father must have felt or somehow seen on my face that I was breaking. So, in the middle of the battle, during the worst part of the fight, he jumped on the front upper part of the tank, did three pirouettes and landed. The third time he landed, he did so with his face toward me. Suddenly I could see right through him! He had taken a heavy German round in the middle of his chest. As he leaned forward his hand gently touched my hand. Then he fell lifeless onto the tank. Yet, when I looked at his face, I could see that he died with a smile, a perfect heavenly smile. And for some reason, I felt no sadness. All I could do was look at his smile. It was as if God had come down from heaven and offered humanity one last smile. Nothing else mattered, the beauty of his smile mesmerized me and all I could do was look at it, smile back and cry tears of joy. It was as if for a moment, the battle ceased and all I could see was the beauty and perfection of all men. That is when it hit me. My mind shifted, the devil disappeared and all I could see was heaven. Heaven was right in front of me and I released all the fear that I had been holding all this time. As I released it, something amazing happened. The 10-foot bat that I was holding off did not finish me off, but as I released it, it simply disappeared.
You see, in the darkest moment that any human could experience, father made me smile and think of heaven. In the darkest moment in my life, when not a drop of sanity was left in my mind, when not a drop of love was left in my heart, father showed me heaven. He had, in that one act, expressed to me that I could see heaven in any action. Regardless of the physical appearance of that action, I could see it as heaven sent. In a moment’s time, I learned that God was in every action, that God was in each expression, that God was in each word, and that God was in each man. I learned that even in the scariest of moments you can see and experience God. Regardless of whether or not you thought you were in hell, you can still choose to see and experience heaven. Regardless of whether or not you saw your best friend blown away, you can still see God and the kindness of all men in one smile.
In that one moment when I should have cursed the Nazis most, I could not stop the tears from rolling down my face, for the absolute love I felt for them. In that one moment when I should have lost all faith in men, I gained absolute trust that what I was seeing was not what was truly there. In one moment’s time, the devil disappeared, hell melted away and all that was left was the kindness, gentleness, courage and the friendship of men.
Yes, a part of me did die that day. It was the part of me that embraced fear, the part of me that harnessed hatred and reveled in revenge. The part of me that died that day was the dark, lonely and lost part of me that never wanted to live.
So with an absolute peace, I fought and drove through the battlefield taking the rest of my men to safety. Throughout the rest of the battle, my friend’s lifeless body laid on my tank and every time I looked at his smile, I understood for the first time that there is God in all men. For me, there was nothing left to ever fear. There was no one else to ever hate. For in the darkest of hours, I found the light that exists within me.
This material can be found in the book - You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy.
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