Welcome to My World…Guy Oliver
It’s not a place for everybody–but it is a place where everybody is welcome. Here you’ll find vice and virtue, despair and hope, and tears and laughter. It’s just a little slice of life that includes the good, the bad, and the ugly, and yes, clichés are welcome in moderate doses, but only as long as they inspire laughter.
Sit with me for a few minutes. You just might enjoy the company.
A Life That Mattered
We all leave this world. Leave it better.
I’ve been a writer for most of my adult life. So after my son’s accident, my friends and family encouraged me to write as therapy. As I considered this prescription, I wondered aloud
“But what story would I write?”
And then, during a conversation with a friend who lost her father three days before my son’s accident, the kernel of the story I eventually wrote was thrust upon me. My friend’s father was, from a societal perspective, the antithesis of my son.
Her father was a West Point Graduate. My son had no formal education beyond the 10th grade. Her father was a decorated Viet Nam War veteran. My son was rejected by the Army because of an injury he sustained after an automobile accident that should have killed him at age 17. Her father mentored a diplomat and an astronaut. My son was acquainted with drug dealers and addicts.
In every way these two men could not be more different from the world’s perspective. That is, until we began to recount the end of their lives over a beer in a diner. My son died while trying to rehabilitate his life. Her father died from health complications caused by hard living after the war ended. The federal government of the United States who sent him to war refused to acknowledge the trauma from which my friend’s father suffered. The state government who imprisoned my son for non-violent crimes, refused to acknowledge the trauma imposed on him during his incarceration and opportunities were denied him because of his status as a felon.
As a result, they both suffered from PTSD and both were denied the humane treatment that would have cost taxpayers a fraction of the cost of sending one man to war and another to prison.
And this is the story of us. Though Dostoevsky said
You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners.
the same can be said of its war veterans, its convicts, its mentally infirm, its homeless, and its desperately poor.
This book is about my son, who from the outside looking in, lived an unremarkable life, but from the inside looking out touched countless lives who grieved his passing. It is that pretext on which this book was conceived. Whether you are a decorated war hero and West Point Graduate, or a high school dropout and convicted felon, your life matters.
Everyone matters to someone. On behalf of my son, I ask in earnest that you earn the devotion offered to you by those to whom you matter. [continue reading…]
A Woman’s Perspective from a Guy’s Point of View
In my life I have had the privilege of living with many women. This is, of course, a blessing from God, kind of like work, but much more rewarding. I believe that this reality was not an accident. At times I think I must have willed that reality into existence. Maybe it was an unconscious prayer I uttered at night just before falling asleep as my brothers ranted on about football.
It was much the same for comedian Margaret Cho, who once said, “As a little girl I prayed that when I grew up I would be surrounded by gorgeous men all the time, and I am. However, I wasn’t specific enough. All of my friends are gorgeous men—gorgeous gay men.”
Now the women in my life aren’t gay, but like Margaret, the experience of being in the near-constant company of women is not exactly the way I imagined it would be in the midst of this youthful fantasy. I grew up in a house of mostly boys and men, which might explain my desire to be in the company of women. I take great comfort in the camaraderie of my childhood brothers—but seriously: by the time I was 18 I had all the testosterone-laden company I could take (women, you understand, don’t you?)
To be fair, my brothers and I had a lot of fun times mostly playing games, games like beat each other up over a scoring dispute in football, beat each other up over a rule dispute in Monopoly, and beat each other up over a dispute about whether you were actually hit by the shot from your brother or friend during a game of combat.
I imagined that life in the company of women would be more civilized and nurturing than my youthful experience with boys, and sometimes it is. But what I didn’t consider was the very real differences between the genders that produce these different behaviors.
At a very basic level this book is about the differences between men and women, and what my experience has indicated to me about why those differences exist. But what really makes this book worth reading is (forgive the lack of humility) something much more profound. Namely covenants.
When you enter into a relationship with someone, you enter into a covenant with that person. In the case of marriage, some aspects of the covenant are very explicit. Both parties, for example, promise to Love, Honor, and Cherish each other. In my experience it’s the implicit covenants, however, that usually cause trouble in a marriage or friendship. [continue reading…]