I came home from work and turned on the t.v. The wonderful movie "We Were Soldiers" was on and I watched part of it before turning it off for some reading in bed with some tea. I was greatly moved at scenes of the men preparing to go to war and their soaking up the last night home with their wives. I remember my "last night" in Eugene until the twenty-odd members of the backfill assembled at the National Guard Armory the wee hours of the night. Though there were only a handful of us arriving with a handful of family, the tension, the fear, the uncertainty was thick in the air.
I wrote in my ‘open letter from a soldier‘ that knowing that my former squad was going back overseas without me felt like "my guts are being ripped out". I’ve mentioned to a few, here and there, that I respect or love, that I’ve been close to jumping ont he deployment. I’ve said that should a decent breeze hit me just right I’ll start down that path that’ll put me back in Iraq. It’d be so easy to back. It is harder to stay here. It fucking hurts to stay here. Whenever I’ve brought it up, even a little, I’ve gotten the same reaction from everyone. That I have important work here to do, that what I am doing matters, that I have an opportunity to save a greater number of lives.
It doesn’t help. I know there is a good that I can do here and I can almost taste it. At times it is like the pieces of the Universe fall together in a way that I’ve not seen, that I am in the right spot to make some sort of difference. I cannot help but feel that should I focus myself, still myself, hear my center… something, that the momentum would take me, that processes bigger than I am will use me as a force for change and healing. But while at times I can feel it… like the pressure change before a tornado hits… there are times when I can’t imagine it… like imagining the warmth of the summer sun on a cold winter’s day.
And who is to say that I am that healer? I’ve done well in my own healing, it is true, but I’ve continued to do disastrously in others. There are times when I am not the person I want to be and it is as though I view my life from within a thick, glass, sound-proof cage. On the outside the weeds are growing, the house is in disarray, on the inside I am banging everything I can find against the glass, trying to break it to no avail.
Even now I am teetering on the resolve to stay here. It would be so easy for me to go with my comrades. There is no fight that I won’t go with them in, it is my nature to be the protector, the guardian. It is a core part of who I am. Yet in Oregon, over the last 72 months we’ve lost 1066 veterans to suicide. That’s 3.4 per week. Every other day….
Oh how I feel the ache in Whitman’s poem… "What good amid these, oh me, oh life?" Were that it was as easy as facing an enemy charge alone. Were that it was something out there that I could manuver with, use tactics on, employ weapons against. But it isn’t. And what good, amid "the struggle ever renewed" am I?
Oh gods that I could split myself in two and do both. I am keenly interested in the emotional basis of morality, as being much stronger and far more essential to it’s very existence than our rational intellect. And what a crushing feeling I have as I sit home as others go out to fight. While the movie 300 was great in some respects, it did not convey clearly enough the sorrow that must have surely been in the heart of the Spartan that was told the fight and go tell their countrymen what occured. This guilt is crushing.
I am reading a book of archetypes for men, well done book. It tells of a side of Ares that is not shown, or brought to light much. Ares was bloodthirsty in war. He was pure action and brutal destruction, to be sure. But in looking that the myths of Ares he is often stirred to action in defense of those he loves, of his family. If you want more than you can handle… mess with Ares’ family and get ready for a fight. Its coming.
But Ares is a god of war, and the best warriors are not always rushing to the front. While I play on XBOX 360 online a game called Bad Company and, like everyone else, I’ve grabbed and assault rifle and hauled ass forward to the objective to collect the gold, much like the Trojans fighting the Greeks in the Iliad over a fallen warrior’s armor, my kill/death ratio is low. Too much John Wayne running around without teamwork. Squad tactics people! But I switched over to a recon mode, using the sniper rifle to support the assault team, taking their flank and popping enemy as they try to flank my assault element (in essence I out flank the flankers) and my kill/death ratio is much better. Long tangent, but the point is that I’ll grab a stick and fight with someone in any fight, what would I do really well in right now? I don’t help the blue team any at all if I am always getting killed, but I am frustrating as hell to the red team as their assault elements keep getting killed from afar as they are trying to maneuver.
As I think of my strengths and capabilities the heavy weight of guilt subsides. There is important work for me to do here. I just need to find my path. An example of what may be the beginnings of the path was two weeks ago. I stayed up all night, till five in the morning, working (again, again, again, again) on my powerpoint presentation about PTSD. I am incorporating more positive and resiliency messages into the presentation. I got up to go to work after two hours of sleep and worked the first part of the day, then I drove three hours to Bend and arrived in time to set up and present to a large group, at least fifty people, while I was recorded. Then some of us went out to eat, I had one beer (and it hit me hard!) and talked with great people. I was sooooo tired. My body, being worked up and storing energy for the presentation, used all my fuel for the talk. After my talk it started to shut down. But food and a beer helped. I had plenty of offers for places to sleep for the night, it now being close to midnight, and I had orginally planned to get a hotel room. But I decided to drive back home. This time I took the windy road through the mountains instead of around them. That mean snow. I used the danger element to keep me focused and awake. It did. By the time I got home I was very tired and I crashed in the bed for a good long while. But what a day! I gave a great talk and I am awaiting a copy of the video to be sent to me. The question now is, what to do with it? How can I use it to set up more talks? What else can I do? I open myself to potentiality, to be an instrument.
I am calmer now. I needed to write some things out. Now I can go to bed and grab some shuteye.