“When the night has come and the land is dark…”







Training for my federal law enforcement career at FLETC in Brunswick, GA in 1998 was a mostly miserable experience.


I had no car, no television, no phone, no internet.


There were also 600 men for every woman (approximately).


I was literally fenced in behind chain link and barbed wire; I had a mini-swamp outside below my window forcing me to choose between suffocating heat or the stench of rotting vegetation.


However, those factors created a surprising outcome.




I ended up writing letters to my brother, father and a few friends.


I said things I never would have said, otherwise.


And I regret none of them.


In fact, I’m grateful I wrote ever last syllable.




Now, if you’ve been following my return to writing here over the past few weeks, you’ll have seen I’ve assigned homework. 


Furthermore, if you’ve taken my assignments seriously and done them, you may have noticed a trend they exhibit.


I assure you, there is a larger lesson and further goal in the distance.




Continuing my efforts, this week’s post is another step on that particular road.


However, this one requires some of the emotional strength you’ve been building.


To keep things brief, I’ll get right to it:


Write a letter (or email) to someone (a non-sexual/non-romantic friend/ally/acquaintance) letting them know how much you appreciate them.


Shoot for respectful gratitude.


Neither gush or grovel.


But don’t qualify things, either.


Just show appreciation, respect and humility.




This exercise serves a few purposes:


1} You’ll realize voicing your need for what another person brings to your life makes you neither weak (nor homosexual, depending on whom you contact).


2} You’ll get a clearer image of what you need out of life and from the people you meet along the way.


3} Lastly, you’ll discover just how much taking the time to say a few brief works can impact someone.


If, for some reason, you currently feel unable to do this, I sincerely ask you to try at some point in the future.








11 Responses to ““When the night has come and the land is dark…””

  1. As it so happens, it’s my son’s birthday tomorrow. He turns 24.

    Since it’s the only tenuous communication I have at present I sent him a FB message:

    “Hey, on the road most of tomorrow, so I’ll say Happy 24th today. We haven’t spoken in a long while now, and I never get used to it, but I understand your position – this needs some distance. You’re a grown man now, and you gotta do what you believe is right. Totally respect that. I’m proud of the intelligent and funny guy you’ve grown into, and it gives great satisfaction to know that.

    Stay well. I’m here if you need me. I won’t pester you if you say hello. Love, Dad.”

    So long as he’s living with his mom & stepdad – assuming stepdad’s still in the picture, actually not sure about that – he has to choose between her and me. I’m absolutely certain she would do something like that.

    Stay away from crazy, boys. It’s fragrant bait on a very sharp hook.

  2. […] up to his New Year’s Resolution for weekly posting. This week’s kernel of wisdom: “When the night has come and the land is dark…”. Appreciate someone, he suggests, in writing (actual pen & paper with no auto-correct). You […]

  3. Did this. Great idea. Much appreciated, Ace.

  4. tharwolf Says:

    “…taking the time to say a few brief works can …” is this supposed to be “a few brief words?” – Not being petty, just wanted to point it out as an individual with an editorial bent (feel free to delete this comment). Love your work.

    • Yes, it’s supposed to be “words”. Thanks for pointing it out. I’ll try to remedy that later tonight since editing throws my formating off which then causes the process to take much longer than it should.

    • Oh, and thanks for the kind words. Very pleased you enjoy it.

      • Of course. I copied these phrases (or paraphrased them) from your work just recently to a commonplace book:

        Don’t forget: fire cooks as well as burns.

        You’ll never see depths of Hell without women, but you’ll never really see the heights of Heaven, either.

        Experience is a despot.

        In all seriousness, I love your writings; they’re sparse in the way that Hemingway’s prose was sparse – they spare the reader the unnecessary.

  5. I sent an email to a woman who was like a Mother to me at one point in my life.

    “Dear Family Friend,

    We don’t talk so much these days. A combination of distance, passage of time, and different worlds (me being insulated in the military world, in a sense) have led to so many years passing by without big conversations that we used to have.

    I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that I love you with all my heart. That I am grateful for you taking care of me when I was younger, taking me in as a son. Sheltering me when I had difficulties at FUMA or simply needed respite from a regimented existence on a regular weekend. Fed me delicious, tears-of-happiness-inducing food. Gave me younger brothers. Introduced me to ██████ , a woman who’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Was always on my side. Us against the world.

    You being a part of my life is one proof among many that God has looked after me, even if I did not believe it…or deserve it.

    You’ll always be family to me.

    I wish you and yours the best.

    All my love,


    Thank you, Ace.

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