Escape and Hope through the Knothole December 22nd, 2012 Comments Fences and BEautyLast week, 20 very innocent children were killed. Yesterday, my Smiling Son was sick. 23 years ago, I performed CPR on a four year-old boy as our helicopter flew high above the city. And in between, life goes on. Up, down, and sideways – life rarely is what we expected, wanted, or planned on. At the age of 19, I had it all figured out – or so I thought. Foreman of my Dad’s pipeline crew of six, a fiance, and a big four wheel-drive pickup – I had it all. It only made sense, because I was smarter than most (Ha!), and very capable (but unwise). A few years later, everything came crashing down and I realized what a meaningless charade it all had become. The form had no substance, and the direction had no purpose.

What made it all the more depressing is that I knew it was more than bad luck. In fact, I knew it was poor choices that led to my bankrupt life. But now trapped in a cycle of real life that offered no off-ramp of escape, I possessed very few options outside of day-to-day survival. I drowned myself in a self-medicated well of escape and fantasy, which only perpetuated the downward spiral, while offering an illusion of betterment and self-actualization. Meanwhile, I continued to make the same poor choices in relationships, material fantasy, and financially. Does the lab rat ever wonder if there is life outside the maze? Does the man in Hell ever dream of a life after eternal torment? Will the hopeless ever find hope?

It is only by the grace of God that I survived the my 20s. At the time, I figured it was my own clever manipulation of the circumstances. I never subscribed to the idea that good-luck, or bad, mysteriously drifted across my path. As far as karma, I knew that my choices created consequences – good and bad – and it wasn’t a karmic energy that was causing me grief and joy. And yet, somehow, I found a wormhole of escape and slipped through it.

“It is only by the grace of God that I survived the my 20s”

My hopeless path of endless, worthless pain was turned inside out. But the wormhole wasn’t a pleasant, painless escape. It was more like being pulled through a knothole backwards – an experience I resisted, kicking and screaming. It was not the roller-coaster ride depicted by so many sci-fi movies – no, it was more akin to being a square peg squeezed into a road hole. A knothole two sizes too small.

It’s been said that “people won’t change unless the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.” Sometimes – usually, it is difficult to tell the difference. I liked being the self-made, macho hero. I was the firefighter who didn’t fear, the paramedic who could rescue anyone from anything, the black diamond skier who escaped death on Heather Canyon, and the player who found identity through beautiful women. But this was the public persona. The private man was lonely, hurting, and without purpose.

One of my casual mentors, a successful fire department captain, told me I had to become an asshole in order to be successful. Not being one to do anything halfway, I decided then and there to become the perfect asshole – and it began to pay off. For awhile. At some point however, I realized my ideas, my plans, and my pushing of others really would have no meaning 100 years down the road. Somehow, I was awoken to the idea that relationships matter more than control, prestige, and power.

“I didn’t really like being an asshole.”

I saw and felt the meaninglessness Solomon describes in Ecclesiastes. I realized that no matter how good I became, eventually death would take it. I realized that no matter how EMS emerged from its infancy, people will still die. No matter how many beautiful women come into my life, I still have to live with myself the next day. No matter how much I drank, and altered my conscious reality, there is a price to pay in the morning and the reality is more difficult with a raging hangover. Also, I realized, I didn’t really like being an asshole.knothole

About half-way through that knothole, I struggled, I fought, and I clung to my life of pleasure. Hedonism may not be all it’s cracked up to be, but there are some fun sites along the journey. Postcards from the edge don’t tell the whole story though. Often, the long desert drives, torturous abandoned roads, and abandoned breakdowns help us realize this is not the road-trip we dreamed it would be.

Fresh out of a relationship where everyday I moved my pistol to a new hiding place and constantly looked over my shoulder fearing her wrath, I was finally ready to slide all the way through the knothole of truth. Not so much out of vision, but more from the fear of what chased me. It wasn’t a dream of a brighter future, it was the fear of being eaten alive by the demons I once chased.

“What is it about human nature that fears change?”

Interestingly, I now realize I brought a lot of baggage with me on that journey through the knothole. Not content with a new life, I carried remnants of the old life with me. But when I say baggage, I really mean a truckload! What is it about human nature that fears change? Why do we feel insecure without our past? When will it be OK to strip naked and escape the matrix of illusion? How do we drop the illusion of security, the fantasy of prosperity, and the accouterments of life?

forex valuta uppsala Why do we rely on outer trappings to give inner meaning? How do we allow inner purpose to create total peace? Where do find a place for our stuff, without hauling around truckloads of baggage and crap? Does it really matter what others think about us? Are we really successful only if we have it all? And if we can’t take it with us, why do we want it in the first place?


The answers to these questions are not easy ones. Both in the conception and in the application, easy answers cannot foment a revolution – but if you are like most, your life requires a revolution.

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” ~ Ron & Nancy Rockey

Over the course of my life I’ve sought purpose and meaning in various ways and at different stages:

      • As a child, I thought like a child and behaved like a child. My purpose was to be a child. I liked being a child. It was a good life.
      • As a teen, I believed my purpose was to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. That was a very confusing time and I didn’t really enjoy that purpose.
      • To escape that confusion, as a young adult, I grabbed onto something tangible, seeking the American Dream – which turned into ropes of sand and slipped through my fingers into meaninglessness and desperation.

Then, in a fit of cockiness, I decided to be the best paramedic/firefighter on the planet – and to become the perfect asshole. But as that horizon approached, it too became meaningless. It was desperation and fear that forced me to let go and let God direct my life. In that process, I avoided the religious trappings as if they too would swallow me up into a sea of meaningless charades.

I’ve always known I’d write a book, but in a moment of clarity, I understood I had nothing wise to say at the age of 20. But now, 30+ years later, I see men wallowing in a sea of fantasy, hopelessness, and purposeless living. Nerds and other social outcasts struggle to fit in. Broken boys become broken men, who then perpetuate the cycle of brokenness with their own sons and daughters. Abused, abandoned, and ignored – we all seek hope, purpose, and meaning. We all seek something that will plug the holes and give us direction.

I see broken marriages, broken families, and confused men. I see men who seek pleasure, but lack meaning. I see women frustrated by the men in their lives, children being damaged by men who don’t know how to be fathers, and grandfathers awash in shame and guilt. There is hope, but it’s not going to be easy.

www 24option com отзывы Don’t you wish it was easy?

I’m confident that my adventures, misadventures, experiences, and failures can provide a narrative others will connect with and/or relate. It is an empathetic model, a relational approach, that allows me to be vulnerable, transparent, and authentic. It isn’t for everyone, and many will reject my casual mentoring, indirect storytelling, and invitation to trace a path of escape through the knothole. There will be pain, there will be tears, and there will me laughter.

We are promised an abundant life, let’s go find it.

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  1. Jen says:

    Great post. Glad we’re seeking abundance!

    1. gwalter says:

      That has to be what it is all about! Right?

  2. Celeste Lee says:

    Gary, I have recently realized you have a story that has shaped you and what you are now passionate about. I found myself curious about it — knowing that there were lessons in it that are valuable. You know I ascribe to the sharing of ” hope strength and experience”. I am so thrilled you’re writing your book. It is hard to revisit some of the choices we made. I am praying that your honest sharing will not only touch lives but give them the courage to allow God to be all they need as He leads them through their lives.

    1. gwalter says:

      You may find it interesting that I’ve revisited those choices and experiences enough so they no longer frighten, or discourage me. As part of the journey, I’ve repeatedly taken a fearless moral inventory and made amends where necessary.

      I’ve know for ages that my story will shape others and encourage their forward direction. Finding the time, motivation, and attitude to write it out has been the hardest. When one is fully engaged in survival, there is little energy left over to coach and mentor others.

      Thank you for your encouragement!

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