What Precisely and Explicitly Are You Memorializing?

Or, is it really just a day off?

What would you wager that her memorials don’t trump yours? Or, how about her infant’s eventual resentment over lack of birthright memorials compared to your Memorial-Day beer pong?

IMG 0797

I consider the loss insufferable and wholly unnecessary in any context that contemplates humanity qua human individual. Sorry. …I’ve told you before that I was a military officer mostly for the cool job…it was geopolitically engaging. The foe du siècle had strategic bombers and submarines, nukes galore, and air-to-air and surface-to-air arsenals and I knew the “specs” of each one that could engage a U.S. Navy warship at sea. Sure, I lacked almost every deeper insight I now hold, but when Mr. Gorbachev Tear Down This Wall did come down in 1989 and the Eastern social gig got exposed by merely peering over crumbling rubble, the last thing I wanted to do was participate in the contrivances of finding a new enemy—particularly one that was a socio-philosophical problem (with convenient geopolitical overtones, in my opinion), and not a strategic-technological one, which I had signed up for.

So I got out in two years’ time, soon as the contract was up.

Let someone else deal with 14th century, dirt scratching savages who’ve missed every important memo since about 1300. But that’s unfair, even. It’s clear to me now that whether it was our geopolitical policy—or merely strategic support of regional interests who wanted America to bear its costs and Memorialize their dead one day per year over a day off—and beer pong—I only wanted the mano-a-mano deal the Soviets at least made a good show of offering.

…I hadn’t intended to do anything but Tweet that pic when I saw it…

Weep-worthy heart breaking, but why? She lost, the baby lost, the soldier lost. They’re fucked. Memorial Shmemorial.

I got an immediate reply…

she wanted a macho guy and got what she deserved.


And the child? And is every hot HC Queen supposed to understand geopolitical realities and “unintended” consequences at 18?


suffering is unavoidable. she is probably suffering less than most people on earth.

Ah, collective accounting is always the last bastion of the privileged who find they need to comfort you. Me:

Oh, so it all washes out in the collective stew of commiseration. Got it.

And for once, I’m not even going to elaborate if you don’t feel me here. But I’m also going to tell you why. This morning, I woke up to an email from my oldest, most intimate friend on Earth, going back to 1987. He wants no public exposure, but since he spent some time writing it for me, it would be a shame to not pay it forward.

It’s about my move to Baja. I leave in about 16 hours, for good—though I might end up elsewhere over the years, though never back in the US for more than a visit if I can help it. I realized I’d forgotten to tell him so I shot out some informations.

Welcome to the expat club. It is the only way to live. And your new digs look fantastic.

One important piece of advice, learned the hard way. You are becoming an expat to be free, but you will never be free if you continue to define your new life relative to your old life. Whenever you compare the two, whenever you say, in effect, “my new life is better than my old because…”, you inadvertently trap yourself in your old life to some degree. It is still capturing your mind and thoughts, and worst of all, your emotions. I was angry for years about American society when I left. It took me YEARS to get over it. And only then was I free. So don’t make the mistake I did. Get over it NOW. Don’t ever think or talk about it again. Only talk about the positives of where you are and where you are headed. It will do great things for your soul, quickly, which is why you are moving in the first place. This was for me the biggest lesson of them all. The buddha put it this way: “You are what you think about for years.” So if you continue to think about worthless women in the US, or whatever, that anger will remain a part of you and like a poison undermine the new life, and new you, that you are seeking. Here’s the danger: you, like me, have this little voice in you that says “But that’s the truth, so I should speak it!” Your allegiance to the truth will, in this case, lead your soul backwards and downwards. Because actually, it is NOT the truth. The truth is holistic and positive. The truth is the life you want, not why you are leaving the one you have left behind. It is a negative subsumed by the positive. You cannot strip it out and express it on its own, as you are doing.

You have no need to prove to others why you are leaving, as if you need to explain yourself. You don’t. When you finally, truly feel that you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, that you are comfortable with your choices, then you are comfortable with you, with life, with the world, and your are free. Get to that point as soon as possible. I love you for this decision, you courageous sonofabitch!

I’m going to give it a try.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Jew Lee Us C Czar on May 24, 2015 at 21:11

    I was about 9 or 10 during the first Iraq invasion by George Bush I. I remember feeling proud and tough, thinking that we could bomb the fuck out of those dune dudes with our high tech jets and such. Fun stuff when you are a kid.

    But now, you have been on notice that no US war has been about freedom or safety since Vietnam. It’s just straight political, military industrial and corporational proxy wars fought by the young and impressionable who think they are contributing to a greater cause.

    I have little to no sympathy for those injured by the conflicts in the past 15 years. To join is voluntary, and if they really thought they were defending old glory, well then nothing more needs to be said.

    I will enjoy the day off though, and drink alcohol, eat meat, maybe some potato chips and some dip, and think of how none of this was made possible by the noble sacrifices of the brave soldiers.

    • disqus_XcSw1GZ4ey on May 27, 2015 at 09:28

      “freedom or safety since Vietnam”
      I would say “straight political, military industrial and corporational proxy wars fought by the young and impressionable who think they are contributing to a greater cause.”
      …applies to vietnam and korean war, and there’s probably a case to be made for ww1 & ww2.
      Listen to Eisenhower talk about the military-industrial-complex

      Then go read War Is A Racket by General Smedley Butler.

      Its probably the main reason jfk was assassinated.

  2. Steven on May 24, 2015 at 21:15

    Honestly that is one of the truest things I have ever read.

    Godspeed my fellow non believer.

    If ever you’re in Solana beach please let me know. I have a lentil soup you need to try.

    All the best

  3. Resurgent on May 24, 2015 at 21:53

    Allow me to quote from Kahlil Gibran’s “The prophet”

    But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure.
    And seek not the depth of your knowledge with staff or sounding line.
    For self is a sea boundless and measureless…

    Godspeed my friend..!
    Walk without feet, Fly without wings and think without Mind..!!

  4. Jackie D on May 24, 2015 at 22:18

    That email from your friend is fantastic, and his words apply to so many things in life. Reminds me of the three questions I try to run through in my head before opening my mouth:

    Does it need to be said?
    Does it need to be said now?
    Does it need to be said by me?

    I find myself much more serene and happy when I can remember to pause and run through these before I engage my big yapper. 🙂

    • Skyler Tanner on May 26, 2015 at 07:33

      That’s a great checklist, Jackie.

      I try to remind myself to “embrace detachment” when it comes to things that would require your list above, but running through that set of points would help me greatly.

      Thank you for posting it.

  5. rob on May 25, 2015 at 03:33

    It’s all about being “badass.” Subhumans can’t live unless they feel they have attained a sufficient level of badass.

  6. VW on May 25, 2015 at 06:42

    How do you become an expat in terms of getting permission to leave the country and stay gone? What I mean is, I have to tell them at the airport of the country I’m visiting that I’m here for pleasure or whatever.

    I don’t even know how to leave the U.S.

    • Douglas on May 25, 2015 at 09:25

      You grab a passport (preferably yours) and head for the border. Once on the other side, you have left the U.S. 😉

    • MissMcGillicuddy on May 25, 2015 at 13:46

      You only need permission on the other side, typically for 6 months at a time – or you qualify for some kind of permanent residency based on your personal situation.

  7. Mo on May 25, 2015 at 09:01

    Thank you for this Richard. This guidance from your friend is a profound insight.

    All the best to you and Bea in your new life.

  8. Beans McGrady on May 25, 2015 at 10:25

    This is fantastic advice, at least as a guideline.
    I read it last night, and had to let it sink in, since there is such a deep parallel with my recent experience.

    I am four years in to being an expat. I wasn’t planning to move full time, necessarily. I had an opportunity and took it, when it was over I decided to stick around.

    Just recently my father, and another friend each asked me if/when I was coming back.

    I was surprised at the anger and resentment I felt towards my former home. It has lingered for quite some time since they brought it up.
    Reading what your friend wrote clicked-on a new analogy, that of a difficult break-up. (something I also experienced recently)

    No relationship is all bad. We often stay in them too long because of the occasional good, or memories of better times. In my case it took a long time to let go of the relationship, and about a year later I found myself in a new one, which had none of the ridiculous complexities of the one I left.

    I found myself comparing the new found ease I had with the troubles of the old relationship, and away I went on journeys of anger and resentment. It took two years, one in a new relationship, to finally let go and appreciate what I have now, and that the previous is over. To let it be dead.

    The pattern regarding the country of birth is similar.

    Just last night I saw some old friends who were in town. I made the mistake of saying that I don’t subscribe to patriarchy theory.

    One ended the conversation right there, which I respect in a way. (she didn’t yell or anything.)

    While the other presented me with such gems as “it’s not a theory” and “is racism a theory?”(she didn’t really know what patriarchy theory is, but she supports it)

    I don’t have to deal with that shit anymore.
    I came home and read your post and it clicked a little bit.

    Much like a break-up, having the attitude of letting it go is a good idea, but it will likely take some time.

    The U.S. further complicates things, in that it is good to have some sense of what is happening there, since what it does and what happens to it, often have implications in the rest of the world.

    I am sure there is a balance with that as well.

    I heartily recommend following the advice your friend gave, but following it well may be difficult at first.

    • Beans McGrady on May 25, 2015 at 10:29

      This is a good way to look at it as well.

  9. MissMcGillicuddy on May 25, 2015 at 13:44

    Your friend is wise.

  10. Marcus on May 25, 2015 at 21:36

    What your friend is describing is something akin to ‘whenewe’ syndrome;

  11. Sean II on May 26, 2015 at 03:47

    Does the butterfly contemplate caterpillar life?

  12. Harriet on May 26, 2015 at 17:32

    I think that advice is also good for those who choose to stay and bloom where they are. There is much that is not good about where I currently live, but it is better than any other option I have at the moment with the resources I have. I can be depressed if I think of all the bad stuff. Or I can focus on the good and do what I call “Get a life!” – a life of my choosing. So I’m currently divesting myself of all the stuff which does not enhance my new life, my life of choice. I have dropped out of forums which promote what they call sustainability the code word for leftie victim encouraging, self hating. I am leaving behind friends of the same ilk and developing others. I am disposing of books and paraphenalia related to past enthusiasms.

    We can all focus on the dog shit and broken glass on the paths or on the beautiful flowering cherry tree up against the blue sky. Our choice. Our actions.

  13. Wenchypoo on May 27, 2015 at 05:12

    Memorial Day was originally supposed to commemorate the fallen troops of WW1, WW2, Vietnam, and Korea. Since we are rapidly running out of survivors of those wars, I see the traditional Memorial Day weekend drawing to a close, and a new Memorial Day weekend happening to honor those who fought and fell in the “Sandbox.” Then, with the rise of drones and other “personless” fighting technology, there will be no more fallen soldiers to memorialize due to war. When that happens, Memorial Day will have officially become what it is today: a reason to consume and usher consumption by putting shit on sale.

    My dad (a WW2, Vietnam, and Korea vet) used to say that “we went to war to defend your right to buy discounted bed sheets!” and he was right. He also used to get mad about people honoring the President’s birthdays (now consolidated into 1 day) by “buying new towels and dishes to celebrate George Washington’s (or fill in a president’s name) birthday!” What used to be memorial days throughout the calendar have been railroaded by consumerism and capitalism, much like Pagan holidays have been railroaded by Christian ones.

    What are retailers gonna do when we stop creating dead soldiers?

  14. kathy on June 13, 2015 at 23:38

    What a great post. I found it entirely refreshing to read and to be honest it restores a little of my faith in men. A reminder that there are those out there who can think for themselves, form opinions not as an excuse to express their anger or be popular but to reach higher ideals by going within and expressing their truth. Your friend is wonderful and so are you. Blessings on your journey.

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