Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life’s a mess
But I’m having a good time
— Paul Simon, Havin’ a Good Time*
Sometimes a songwriter scores a bull’s-eye, connecting a lyric with an emotional state (mine, in this case). Yesterday was my birthday, and I had more than a good time. I had a great time, thanks to my daughter, my girlfriend and her son. Truly an epic celebration. But birthdays are (for me, anyway) a time for reflection, self-assessment, and an opportunity to ponder where I’ve been, where I’m going, and how I’m planning to get there. As such, I thought I’d share with the TTAG Armed Intelligentsia some of what I came up with yesterday.
It’s been a long, weird year. Frankly, I’ve had better. In the last 12 months, I’ve lost my dad, fought with my sister (mainly over him), dealt with career issues (freelancing is the career equivalent of walking a tightrope at a circus, without a net. Brings a whole new dimension to the phrase “what’s the next step?”), and I’m dealing with the myriad issues of my daughter coming to live with me.
Along the way (and among my many other enterprises), I’ve helped RF build and grow TTAG from zero readers to what we have today, as well as trying to help spur its continued growth for the future. Oh, and I’ve thrown a record (for me) amount of lead downrange in name of making myself a better shooter, honing my skills, improving my ability to defend myself and my family, and working to bring TTAG more stories.
It’s been said that we are all the sum of our experiences. Another axiom that applies is that which does kill us, makes us stronger. (That Friedrich – what a kidder.) All I can say is that my last 12 months have been the moral equivalent of the same process used to temper steel – a trial by fire. Or in other words, looking back, I think I’m a better person for having been through that, but I’m not eager to go through it again.
I’ve also come to appreciate some things that I should never have taken for granted.
Time is precious. We live in an “attention economy.” The very phrase pay attention is both figurative and literal at the same time. No matter who you are, you have the same 24 hours a day that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett do. The fact that you choose to spend some of them with TTAG is both a compliment and a challenge. We are striving to create content that is worthy of your attention. Based on our numbers, it seems to be working. But we can always try harder, do better, and keep moving forward.
I’m grateful for freedom of speech. I thank God I live in a country where I can criticize a government agency (primarily the ATF, but the Executive Branch as a whole has been on the receiving end of my wrath) without getting arrested, interrogated, tortured, and ultimately murdered. Name another country on the planet where one or more of those things isn’t a regular occurrence. (Think before you answer – the reports coming out of England, Australia and Canada would suggest that their whole approach to human rights is being overshadowed by their new-found love of all things P.C.)
I’m grateful for the 2nd Amendment. And for the Supreme Court’s interpretations that preserved my individual right to self-defense. When you get right down to it, throw out all the crap about “gun control” and the rest of the drivel coming from the VPC, the Brady Center and MAIG. To lose the right to own and use a gun is to strip someone of their fundamental right to protect themselves against an attack by both criminals and the government, should it cross the line from working FOR the people to AGAINST the people. (Don’t tell me it can never happen here…there’s way too many cases of governments turning against its people for me to believe that it could never happen in the USA.)
I don’t relish the thought of being reduced to someone who’s last line of defense is “hoping a disaster doesn’t occur.” I acknowledge full well that owning a gun is not a panacea, nor is it a guarantee that I’ll survive, should something bad happen. But I like my odds much better, if I have access to a gun.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to write what I think, and share it here. (Thanks, Robert!) It’s fun to write about guns. It’s even more fun to know that somebody else has read my work, and it’s produced a response from the audience. For the record, I appreciate both the compliments and the criticism. The first is nice. The second drives me to be better. And I have to admit that working here at TTAG has provided me with the opportunity to see – and shoot – a bunch of weapons I would otherwise never have had the opportunity to even see, much less handle.
I’m grateful that I own some really nice firearms. Aside from my belief that owning guns is essential to preserve my collective and individual Constitutional rights, the n0t-so-secret fact ’round these parts is that guns are fun. I take a lot of pleasure in going to the range and honing my skills. That part has nothing to do with self-defense nor what our Progressive brethren here on TTAG insist must be paranoia, blood lust, or “gun loonery.” Nope. It’s just fun.
I enjoy the whole process. Loading. Firing. Reloading. Cleaning. The sense of accomplishment when I hit the bull’s-eye. The pride I feel when I empty a magazine and see a nice, tight grouping. The knowledge that my practice pays off. It’s fun. And I’d suggest that, if you know someone in your life that is anti-gun or even just unfamiliar with handling guns, you’d be doing them a favor to take them to your range and expose them to shooting. It might not turn them from anti-gun to pro-gun, but it can’t hurt to try.
Lastly, I’m grateful for my family, friends, and the TTAG Armed Intelligentsia. While the last year has, at times, been hard to handle, it’s my family and friends that help me to get over the hard parts.
* And yes, I’m fully aware of the irony of using lyrics by a prominent Leftie like Paul Simon here. In particular his second verse is reminiscent of Obama’s comments about people in fly-over country “clinging to their guns and their religion.” I cling to both, and I’m damned proud of it. Irony, people. Irony. It’s like “goldy” or “bronzy,” but stronger. And ferrous.