Twenty Thirteen taxed My Brain.
Exactly one year after my father died, my book about him was born. The work needed to complete the story, get it published and then share it just about killed me. But thanks, in part, to the wild way in which I was raised—swimming with gators and pulling boats named Garuda—I was able to prevail. I am tougher than I ever thought I could be.
I will forever be grateful to another unique Southern Gentleman, Larry Moore, for publishing the book about my father and me. Larry believes that Bercaws really know how to put the “fun” in dysfunction.
But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
My father kept his dad’s brain in a jar on his office desk. And now I keep my dad’s memory in a book called Brain in a Jar on my desk. Our gray matter at the heart of the matter.
So, Twenty Fourteen, with those lessons in mind, I am running headfirst into you. Actually that should be heartfirst. I’m taking the last line of Brain in a Jar as my marching orders for the new year:
It’s the heart that belongs in a jar.
In just a matter of weeks, I’m marching (with soldiers no less) right back to the place where hearts were broken when one heart stopped beating in 1988. I shall need every bit of inner strength gained from swimming with gators and pulling boats to revisit the scene of the crime. And then to finally, finally, put it behind me.
You should know, dears, that I am scared to death. Flying to the other side of the world, alone, to a place that I hated, a place known for its frigid Siberian winters? At some point there, I’ll be traipsing up to the DMZ, which is known by some as hell on Earth.
Here’s how a reporter for National Geographic once described that place:
Apocalyptic thoughts come easy here. In a world full of scary places—Kashmir, Chechnya, the West Bank—the DMZ is perhaps the scariest of all, considering the massive fire-power deployed on both sides and the brinkmanship practiced by the rival camps. All along the 148-mile (238-kilometer) truce line that bisects the Korean peninsula, hundreds of thousands of well-trained troops from two of the world’s largest armies (plus more than half of the 37,000 United States troops stationed in South Korea) stand ready to fight, trained by their commanders to hate their ideological opposites and never to let their defenses down.
But you must do the thing you fear the most to access your furthest reaches of courage. The final lesson of Beaurgard Lee Bercaw, who used to call me child of his heart, was how to navigate what scares you the most. (And no one did it better in 2013 than Diana Nyad.)
Dive in and swim.