The Sum Of My Fears…

Kathy and I signed our revised wills yesterday. Nothing has really changed except we are now residents of the Sunshine State and they do things a little differently down here. Mortality gives you a quick jolt to the system, when you create a living will. Not maudlin but sobering. This is how you decide how you want to go out. 

I don’t know if it is my work in hospice or that I feel lucky I have gotten this far, but death does not scare me. It is what it is. But as I look at the world around you and me I do have fears. Not only for me but for my family and the rest of our big blue orb.

Dr Webster tells me, fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. He goes on to say it can come from real threats or imagined dangers. Interesting.

We take risks all the time and some more than others. Coming back from DC, we were on I95, doing 85 and getting passed on the left and the right. If you really stopped to think about it, this 4000 pound piece of metal is hurtling down the macadam with little or no chance of stopping in time if the situation deteriorates rapidly. You don’t dwell on it because it is a fact of life like riding in a plane or train. Some people do.  freak out.

As I look back over my life I have taken chances. I have done things some might consider dangerous. I assess the odds and hopefully make a rational decision to either take another route or plunge forward. The real secret is having control over the situation. Things of late run a little contrary to that prospect. 

This gun and violence thing has gotten totally out of hand. Back on the Interstate, you may have really pissed somebody off by switching lanes.

This dude or dudette is coming up to full boil as he or she pulls alongside you. The window rolls down and all of a sudden the business end of a 356 Magnum is aimed at your head. Nowhere to run. No where to hide. 

Recently a woman had dropped her son off at the US Naval Academy for his plebe year. She was back at the hotel chatting with fellow parents and she was shot and killed by a random bullet from a drive by shooting. We saw the mayhem as 30,000 fans were watching a Nationals game and a drive by occurred just outside the stadium. Shots rang out between two cars and three people were hit. Random? Yes. Rare? No.

What could be more tranquil that sleeping in your apartment overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 2:00 in the morning? Then in an instant lives and concrete vaporize, reminiscent of 9/11. Incredible in every way but something went terribly wrong. 

COVID has struck more swiftly and stealthily than any other disease. Entire families and neighborhoods are under attack without any weapons in sight. A baptism or wedding turns into a “spreader event”. Rich and poor are hit with equanimity. 

On the gun thing you can’t run or hide and this galls me no end. There are no safe havens and I do not choose to live my life behind triple bolted bulletproof doors. But the chances grow every day that it could be me or someone dear to me. How did we let it get that far?

As for condos who knows? But if you are on an upper floor right now you have to be wondering if the contractor cut corners to make more money or the building inspector turned a blind eye. Maybe the condo board does not want to spend the money? A lot to think about. 

And finally, we have the opportunity to get vaccinated but we don’t. For some it is fear of what might be down the road as a side effect. Others want to make a statement about their rights and good for them. Lastly some are just afraid of doctors and needles. All valid but can you just stand in the middle of the tracks playing chicken with a freight train? 

All of this seems so implausible to me. You can get shot at walking to the store or the guy behind the counter chose not to get vaccinated and you catch COVID. You got through that gauntlet only to sit down with your takeout and a glass of wine and the building crumbles. How much of this is bad Karma and how much is avoidable? 

History is littered with bad actors and their aftermath. Yet we have always had faith in our systems and failsafes to get us through. In our seesaw of life we have always loaded up good and decent people to offset the miscreants. It was just the way we did things. I keep asking myself if this simple dogma still holds true. 

Fear is a reaction to a particular occurrence It is both physical, emotional and healthy. It keeps us on our toes. Anxiety is more lasting  and tougher to beat.

You feel overwhelmed by situations, events and personalities. You just worry a lot….about most everything. You say it is your nature but it is a learned trait

The sum of my fears is simple. I worry we are less and less able to handle problems head on. We look for magic pills and silver bullets. We look the other way. We don’t want to get involved. It is all about ME and US never enters our minds unless it is to our favor

Sorry kids,I can’t sugarcoat this. You can visit Disneyland but you can’t live there forever. Whether it is in gated communities or hardened barrios, we have problems that have to be addressed or they will eat us like a cancer. I fear but I am hopeful that we get our act together.

As always

Ted The Great


A study in 2016 showed there were 327 disaster events. 191 were natural and 136 were man made. 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.

Concern motivates to help others with goal of solving it or to minimize the issue. Whereas, Worry is something which stems from negative thoughts about future with assumptions that is driven by fear and anguish. This fear then creates an emotional disturbance and there is no peace of mind. Which describes you?


Thank You For Your Service

I felt like I was back in uniform. We spent part of the July 4th weekend with great friends in the DC area. He was a senior officer retired from the Army after 23 years. We played golf at the Army Navy Country Club. I thought it should be Navy Army CC but that is just me. The cookout Sunday night was replete with fireworks and red, white and blue were everywhere from bunting to shirts and dresses. 

While waiting on the chow line of sorts we asked fellow place holders what branches they were from? There were plenty of “Sirs” but  one admiral waved off any recognition of his rank. We were all in the same fraternity. Very cool!

Of particular note was our host’s son who just retired from the Army as a Lt Colonel. I read the handout of the retirement ceremony which included the plan of the day. Tributes from CO’s, Gunnies and fellow officers. His bio read like an Audie Murphy movie for those who remember that far back. Five deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq ranging from 6-18 months each.Three Bronze Stars and a lot more. An amazing young man. 

His presence was commanding but I couldn’t help but look aside to his parents and his wife and daughter. Mom and dad were beyond proud. Deb even had a tear or two although she claimed it was allergies. Dad was pure soldier and loved the passing of the guard. Who wouldn’t, but there was more. 

The soldier’s wife was beyond sharp. Big smile and an even bigger personality.Not over bearing but just testimony to a young lady who had her you know what together. Several master’s degrees that she acquired in addition to her duties as an Army wife and mom. She was supportive and always in synch. There at the ready for her family like a tough Marine guard but with an absolute heart of gold. One neat lady.

We have had a couple of other dinner conversations with military friends and I keep going back to the wives. They told their own war stories. Moving their entire household single handed because dad was off soldiering someplace. Laying awake at night wondering if the doorbell was going to ring with some horrible pronouncement. Raising the kids because it is what you do when 18 month deployments interrupt your marriage. Dozens of new places and friends and schools over 20-30 years. Some kind of amazing.

More intriguing  or heroic is the fact that many these women are from service families themselves. Dads, uncles and brothers go way back as do the moms, aunts and sisters. To a person they never spoke of regret but of a life that was rich if not rather unconventional. When you get them together, each one has their own comical or harrowing story to tell. We should make their conversations a TV series. It would put Housewives of Wherever to shame. 

Warfare has become less deadly but that is cruel in a way. We have mastered the fine art of triage and reconstruction to the point we can bring people back to life from death’s darkest door. Whether the returnee has missing limbs or just part of his or her psyche forever changed, the spouse waits and accepts and loves. I really don’t know how they do it. They are incredibly special people. 

In WW II you were shell shocked. In Nam you just couldn’t get it together. Today PTSD is the acronym that ties it all together. War changes you for better or worse. It is more often the latter. You are a handful and someone has to understand and help you regain yourself if you ever do. Once again it is you know who.

We seem to have a love hate of the military. Since the end of the draft a waning single digit percentage of us have any connection. We have no idea how much of their reality keeps us safe. We can pooh pooh Iraq or Afghanistan or wonder why we have overseas bases but when the next 9/11 happens, we are sure happy they are there. Military budgets? You bet they are big. Want to defund them? I think you see how that has worked out for us. 

If you have been to war you probably have seen the futility of it. No one really wins and you see a lot of loss. But right now the world is not an especially friendly place. There is always someone out there who wants to project their ego or get even. We are forced to make assumptions and plan for eventualities. Is it a huge waste? Probably a good part of it is, but we really have no alternative. 

So for now let’s go out of our way to thank anyone who wears the uniform, no matter what branch. Wait, you can do a little more for the Anchors Aweigh men and women. Ha! Don’t just doff your hat during a flyover but maybe sing that national anthem a little louder no matter your musical talent. Stand up and be proud. 

Most of all be grateful to the ones that keep the home fires burning. When your day sucks from some minor mishap, realize it is just that. A small inconvenience. I thank the soldiers and sailors, but I really want to thank the spouses for their service. Where would be without them ?

As always 

Ted The Great  


In our population of 330 million people there are 1.4 million on active duty. This is about 30% smaller than in 1990 when there were  2.1 million. 

There are also 19 million veterans. 25% or 5 million have a service related disability. 

Of veterans of war who were in combat anywhere from 10-30% suffer from PTSD. 

Approximately 250,000 veterans suffer homelessness over the course of a year.

We have 165,000 American forces in over 150 installations throughout the world. There are 55,000 troops in Japan, 33,000 in Germany and 26,000 in South Korea.

Two great comments from PCS(Permanent Change of Station) spouses that probably sum it up:

“I am stressed,” she admits with a laugh. “Yes, I cry myself to sleep. Yes, I take long showers, but after awhile, you realize you just have to deal with it. The movers are here with their truck; you have to go. You pull your big girl pants up and dig in.

“It helps to remind myself that somebody always has it better and somebody always has it worse,” she added. “I’ve had to PCS where I had a whole year to prepare. Then again, I’ve heard of people who had to move in two weeks. You need a back up to a back up to a back up plan.”