CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Statute of Limitation Reminder

The “end of year” and beginning of the new year is a good reminder for people, that once you are separated from Federal Service, you only have one (1) year to file for Federal Disability retirement benefits.  Furthermore, many people are separated from service right around this time, and just remember:  You can always “supplement” a Federal disability retirement application with additional medical reports, documentation, etc.; however, unless you file the necessary forms before the deadline, you cannot do anything.  The first and most important step in the process is to always file on time; thereafter, you can make other additional medical and legal arguments on behalf of your case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Chess and the Art of Deception

At my rudimentary level of playing (if “playing” may be the accurate description) and understanding chess, it is a game of deception and decoy; of contrivances to convince your opposition to believe you intend to do X, while all the while planning to do Y.  Aside from being obnoxious, what would one think if, as your opponent is about to make a move, you were to stop him and say, “Excuse me, but if you move that Knight, I would take your Queen.”  This would be acceptable, of course, if you were teaching your son or daughter the game of chess; as the younger, more inexperienced player is about the make a fatal mistake, to caution:  “If you do that, you will lose your Queen.”  Inasmuch as creating a ruse is part of the game of chess; of setting up decoys; of intentionally putting up a moderately important piece (say, a Bishop) as a sacrificial piece in order to set up a deception in order to create the ultimate outcome:  Checkmate.

Yet, where in the rules of the game did the acceptance of deception as a modality of behavior become established?  I do not recall when, as a child, as I was taught the fundamental rules of the game of chess, I was informed that being deceptive was an accepted norm.  No one ever said to me, “Hey there, if you put the pawn there, then wait a few moves, then move the pawn forward and make your opponent think you’re interested in taking his Knight, when all the while you have your Queen sitting in the corner waiting to take his Castle – it’s okay to do that.”  I have never seen the issue of deception explicitly stated in the “Rules of Chess”; but, I suppose, there are books and articles “out there” which include (or “assume”) ploys of deception as being “part of the game”.  It is probably no different than, say, sending all of your wide receivers and tight end out for a long bomb, then pump-faking, then shovel-passing the football to the fullback.  That, too, is a form of deception.  Yet, all of that occurs in a single move, where multiple players are expected to be performing their roles; and, besides, for each of the players on offense, there are an equal number on defense, for a 1-on-1 ratio.  And because all of the players move with fluidity concurrently, to describe the play as a play of “deception” is somehow not the same as planning 4 or 5 moves in the game of chess, while all the while knowing that you are engaging in a ploy of deception.

Thus, one might say, it is a game of dishonest intentions.  But, you counter, just as there is a 1 to 1 ratio of players, so there is the same ratio between two chess players; each player sees the full board in its totality; the one who is deceived is deceived in the open field of the chessboard.  Yes, but it is the intention that makes all the difference.  Yes, but, you counter, isn’t the intention of sending out the wideouts and tight end, all the while knowing that you plan on a draw play, the same type of intentional deception?  Is intentional deception part of a game?  Where and when do we learn it?  How do we learn it?  How does one learn to deceive another?  Does one learn from a “Rule Book of Deception”?  If so, I have never studied from such a book.  Yet, as I play the game of chess, I realize that the greater the deceiver, the more gifted the player.  Inasmuch as I am not much of a chess player, perhaps that is a positive reflection of my character.

Second Parable: The Dream of a Butterfly

In life, the rarity of humanity arises once, if at all, in the lifetime of a life.  And so it was that Taburo walked his customary walk along a green and lush riverbank.  It had rained for many days before, and the swift and dangerous roar of the rising floodwaters dumping into the Kozuichi River reverberated with an echo of serenity, as the life of a river mirrors the calm and turbulence of a soul.  Taburo walked in meditation as he did each morning.

Morning was the calm of one’s soul; walking was the exercise of the mind; the world around was the dream of a butterfly; the silence of his body the wakefulness of the moment. And the whimper was heard; had Taburo not paused to reach with a finger to stroke the side of a common green river lizard which had momentarily frozen upon its way up a birch tree, he might not have heard the whimper, and perhaps his life would not have given rise to that rarity of humanity, and the test of life in the humanity of his very own life.

Taburo heard the whimper, and looked down.  There, down below, clinging to an overhanging tree branch, was a boy of nine, perhaps ten, his feet partly submerged as the riverwaters were rising; wet through and through, whimpering, too weak to do much more.  Thought was a robber of time when action was required, and Taburo did not think.  He did.  He was a strong swimmer.  The river was rising rapidly.  Time was not on the side of thought. He ran swiftly, as the samurai ancestor’s blood had trained him, tearing off his robe and shedding his sandals, and in a graceful singularity of movement, as an acrobat from a trapeze swing, he dove and cut through the waters.

The undercurrents were overpowering, but Taburo was a mighty warrior; his arms slashed through the currents, and within moments he was with the boy.  The branch which provided the lifeline for the young lad snapped just as he reached the shivering body, and as the rushing waters were about to sweep the lad under, Taburo grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt and pulled him tightly towards his chest, wrapping a powerful arm from behind, around the boy’s chest, under each arm.  With his free arm, he slashed through the battling rapids.

Taburo was the son of a warrior, the grandson of the Ishido Clan, known for the ferocity of their skill in swordsmanship, and with this same triumvirate of virtues:  fearlessness, courage, and kindness, he slashed at the enemy.  Yes, as he swam and as he neared the riverbank, the serenity of exhaustion and fatigue was slowly, imperceptibly overtaking him; and he knew that the river was no enemy.  It was not a warrior to be feared; not an opponent to have courage against; not a worthy adversary to feel kindness towards.  It was, instead, the dream of a butterfly.

These thoughts flashed quickly in his mind, like the silent fluttering of the butterfly, and Taburo laughed in silence.   The rocky banks passed swiftly by; in his doing, he knew that he would have only one chance, as his strength was waning.  He timed it well; for a warrior and a master swordsman, the three elements of a battle ensured victory:  swiftness, accuracy, and timing.  Such virtues, of course, were merely for the physical battle; missing was the fourth virtue, that of wisdom; but in this battle where the opponent was merely the dream of the butterfly, wisdom was not called for; only the agility of the first three virtues.  Of the three, the latter was the most important.

He used the current to his advantage, and positioned himself; as it carried him towards the rocky embankment, he knew that he would hit a jutting boulder or tree root.   At the precise moment, he  slashed both feet towards the embankment, pointing like waiting spears…and as his toes touched surface, he felt the moment, and with the force and agility gained through years of swordsmanship, he pushed fiercely upward, lifting himself momentarily into the air, as he would with a sword about to slash his opponent; but this was a different battle, a different opponent, and in one movement, suspended above the roaring riverwaters, he threw the young lad high into the air.

Taburo slashed back into the dirty waters; at the same time, the lad landed on all fours onto an overhanging boulder several feet above, in the safety and calm of dry land.  The eyes of the lad met the eyes of Taburo.  With the serenity of a butterfly’s dream, Taburo became submerged, and disappeared into the timelessness of nature.

Silence

In the West, and especially in the United States, silence is an uncomfortable state. At a party; at a gathering; with a chance but brief encounter; silence cannot be sustained; it must be expunged, invaded, violated, shattered and engulfed.

The concept itself is rarely spoken of in its singular modality; instead, it is often hyphenated and combined: “uncomfortable silence” or “embarrassing-silence”.  Thus, the very concept itself has come to be understood as that which is unpleasant or undesirable.  It is a void which must be filled; music, conversation, laughter, banter, platitudes, politeness, complimentary dialectics, rhetorical flourishes, conjugated dialogues – each has a place, in its rightful time, in its proper context.  But so does silence.

Often, at gatherings, in medium to larger crowds, I find myself silent; listening to others speak; being polite but watchful; I enjoy listening to others.  Some find that I am aloof, or sometimes even unfriendly; yet, I find that silence is a state of comfort for me.

In the early morning hours, when I pray or meditate, it is important sometimes to listen; the prattle of our thoughts are neither profound nor informative to God; the utter self-contradiction between our stated belief and our actions: If indeed we know God to be omniscient, then do we not also know that He knows our thoughts even before we speak them?  Thus, our conversations with God must sometimes take a different road – that of silence, and listening to the quiet voice of God.

In the meditative silence of the early morning sunrise, when the robin speaks, the radiance of God pervades with a subtle but persistent explosion of Being – of revealing the being-ness of the world; and our human apparatus to perceive the Being-being-revealed; only in silence can we experience that moment of dawn, when God whispers to us through the revelation of his Being, as the robin knows each day.

The Collector

In the seclusion of her life (and one may always view such seclusion as the private portal of one’s soul, or within the lost imaginations of a wandering mind, or the momentary quietude of becoming lost in a pleasant memory from a childhood past), she had been known as a ‘collector’. Her weathered, sun-spotted hands, leathery yet revealing the grace and delicate bones they exhibited in youthful days, friends would comment how she could have a career in television merely relying upon the beauty of her hands; and that was without commenting upon her facial beauty; the beauty of her physical appearance; the beauty of – and the reader would naturally inquire, but what of her soul? For, of course the soul is of paramount importance; it is that which forms the foundation of absolutes; and as was already described, she was a collector in younger days. Her collection, however, was of information; of gossipy tidbits about her friends, neighbors, family and acquaintances; embarrassing moments; of details which one would ask to be forgiven for, or forgotten, or tossed into the attic of one’s past.

She collected and carefully stored such details; and when it was to her advantage, she would bring them out and use them for various purposes: as a tool; as a shield; as a hammer or axe; to defend, to fend, to deflect, to slash or to bludgeon. Such was the contrast between the delicate beauty of her hands, the relative grace and ease with which she moved them, almost in free-flow, as a ballet-dancer, as she spoke and used the weapon of her choice: words. For though we describe by metaphor the power of words, her hands were without such weapons as we ascribe; it was through her lips that such words emerged and spewed, and the wounds inflicted.

How many of us are collectors? How many of us can wash the sins of others, as God washes our own sins merely by our asking? And in her last years, she lived a solitary life, for by words her circle of friends dwindled, cast away and running and hiding from the weapons of words; until one day, she found herself alone, in the solitary confinement of her own words. And though they may merely be words, they build walls around us; impenetrable, surrounded by a moat which cannot be traversed. Collecting is a hobby of sorts; the collector reflects the value of what is collected; and the collection reveals the soul of the collector. Some collect stamps; others collect paintings; still others collect pottery and other such items. But to collect the past acts of your neighbor – ah, that is a collection which is not worthy of the soul of man.

When once the question, “why”?

Praditha was a slight boy of ten years; his dark skin betrayed the life he lived; and the hands which reached out to add to the fire revealed hands misshapen from toil and hard work. “Grandfather, when will it rain?” Such a question received a warmth from the old man he so loved; whose long white beard reached just below mid-chest; with a face cut with deep ravines of wisdom; and pock-marks from a childhood ravaged by disease; and yet a youthful glint in his eyes. “Why do you ask?” grunted the old man.

The boy did not expect such a question to his question, for his answer would reveal a motive and intention he did not wish to reveal. But he had learned long ago that no amount of careful consideration would sidestep the wisdom of his Grandfather; nay, it was beyond wisdom; it was an uncanny knowledge that pierced the very soul of his young mind. “I ask to…” but he paused, looking down at the fire, wanting to embrace its warmth, yet to avoid the steady gaze of the man on the other side.

“If it rains, then of course you cannot be expected to work in the fields. You must then go out into the woods to explore, to do what you have been doing on other rainy days.” Praditha continued to look down at the red glow; a sudden spark broke the silence, and tiny pebbles of hot balls crackled and shot towards the boy, who jolted backward. And in that instant when he jerked his head back from the fire, he saw the sly and playful smile of his Grandfather.

For he knew; they both knew. In the world in which they were born, lived, survived, toiled, and finally died, there was little time for play; there was time for a smile; for a thought; for reflection upon rest; but play was a time of waste, except on a day wasted by rain.

The boy had heard of villages where play was commonplace; larger villages where the old ways were lost and children played every day; where such questions of “when” changed to “why”, as in, “Grandfather, why does it rain”? But in his village, such questions were without meaning; the why would come only when games would be played on days even when the rains did not come. But with the emergence of the why came the destruction of a way of life; of daily toil, where son, father and grandfather would awaken with the sun; where the sun would be the gauge of work; where being and the world within which, were never separated, because the questions of why would never emerge to separate the two.

The why of the world, as with the emergence of all such entities, always comes at a cost. “And,” Grandfather added, “when it stops, then we shall work all the harder the next day.” Beyond the fire, the glow of warmth enveloped Praditha. For it was Grandfather who had worked for some seventy years; yet his smile gave off the warmth, as the embers slowly died, and darkness revealed the time of sleep.