NewYears IED

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tactics and Compassion: Part 2


I wasn’t wearing any socks when I heard an all to familiar knocking at the door. At least that’s what I thought about as I reached for the door knob. Ah, but perception, perception is everything. C’est la vie, I said to my reflection in the window pane as I opened the door. What stood before me was my imagination. The actual physical description of this for your sake I will call him man, is of no consequence. He was what ever I choose him to be.

At my door stood a man no taller than I with black hair and eyes that have seen the others. The others being that which can not be described by mere words, therefore I will not try to give light to that which cannot be explained. But again for your sake I will liken them to fire which as you know changes color based on the temperature of the heat at its core.
“good to see you kid” he quipped as he casually walked through the door.
“feelings mutual” I responded . “we are waiting for one more guest” I said guiding him to my library. “they should be here shortly, may I interest you in something to drink?”


Water with a lemon” he said while gazing around the room.
I walked to the bar thinking only of my bare feet. I had realized while running only hours before that this whole meeting was completely under my control. I could be standing completely naked and not feel the least bit anxious. True power comes only in the form of interpersonal thoughts.
“do you smoke?” I asked my new guest.
“yes” he replied as I brought over a green felt box to the coffee table.
“I have several different types of cigarettes and cigars, as well as hasish from morocco and marijuana from” I paused, “somewhere from the northeast, I can’t remember exactly where but I assure you its good.”
He leaned forward glancing in the box. He was about to say something through a smile when again there was a knock at the door.
“excuse me” I said heading for the door.

I knew what she was going to look like, although the mind has a wonderful capacity for facts and images the first sight of the possible is always a jolt.
Through the window pane in the door I could see the outline of her. When I opened the door she was for the briefest of moments standing with only her profile to me. That image alone makes my heart become the most noticeable aspect of my being. Helen may have had the face that sailed a thousand ships but this creation of mine, this figment of my ideal was stunning.
“I have been waiting in rapt anticipation for your arrival”. I beamed.
“I’m glad to be here” she said looking directly at me, her dark long hair glistening in the moon light. “ But, rapt anticipation” she came closer, lightly touching my should with her left hand. “Your going to have a little trouble saying what ever it is you have to say using words like that just to impress.” She twirled her finger “whom ever it is you feel you need to impress.”
“Perfect” I said more to myself than her.
“ I assume he’s in the library”, she said without looking back at me. All to well knowing that I was admiring the other side of her profile.
I caught up to her and was about to lead her into the library when she stopped me.
“lets go outside” she said sliding her arm under mine.

Arm and arm stride for stride we walked out onto the veranda. Looking out over the bay all the lights a reflection of the universe, the universe a reflection of the bay.
“ how is your mother doing” she said light two cigarettes, Marlboro lights, and handing me one. She had taken her hand away but was now leaning in close, our arms touching.
“ I had a chance to see them for a day last Saturday. I could have told them to stay longer but in truth I didn’t want to deal with it.”
“why” she asked tilting her head and exhaling away from me.
I watched the smoke, thick and puffy dissipate into nothing as though it was never even there to begin with and said
“I’m not entirely sure.” I continued “as trite as this may sound part of it had to do with smoking.”
“They know you smoke” she asked
“Yes, but they don’t approve”
“so when your with them you try not to smoke” she said more knowing than questioning.
“right”
So your mind in trying not to think about smoking means that your thinking about it even more thus taking you away from the present and into the future when your away from you parent and free to feed your addiction.”
She seemed to have said it all in one breath.
“Not surprising that you hit that dead on the nose, but its not just that.” I said taking her hand and leading her to the swing on the side of the house.
She sat crossing her legs towards me revealing through the part in her white chiffon perfect skin and beautiful feet in blue sandals.
In that instant I remembered watching my parents on the couch. Each laying at opposite ends. My mom reading the latest people magazine, my dad napping, all the while unconsciously rubbing her feet.
“I have incredible parents I said, shifting my gaze to my hands. “they have done a wonderful job in helping me become the young man I am today. You see they never told me I had to do anything, they simply set boundaries and led by example, they are the ideal. She smiled, reaching out and touching my cheek. ”When I am around them I don’t have to worry about anything….which is wonderful, don’t get me wrong….but I’m embarking on this journey by myself, for myself and sad as it is to say they would have been a burden” In a voice full of self loathing I continued. “All morning I have likened leaving my mothers embrace to being born. Leaving the safety of the familiar. This time not to school or summer camp or college but to War. This time alone, of my own estimate I must survive in the most hostile environment I have ever encountered. One where through no malleable fault of my own other people will find God in my destruction.”
Even though I felt out of breath I reached for my pack of smokes. She already had one lit and handed it to me.


She guided my face to hers stared deeply into my eyes and kissed me on the mouth. There was nothing sexual about it but I felt my whole being swell. Our lips parted but she held my gaze.
Lets go inside.” She said softly. Taking my arm again she let me lead her into the house.
We walked the 15 or so yards into the house. I asked her if she needed anything she didn’t so we entered the library
With my hand in the small of her back I said. “Aphrodite, this is Mars, Mars, this is Aphrodite.
In the blink of an eye I found myself standing next to Mars and Aphrodite sitting on the couch. I looked at both of them confused.
Mars slapped me on the shoulder and with a laugh said. “We know each other.” They smiled at each other and Aphrodite winked at me.
Mars walked over to the couch , gave Aphrodite a playful pat on the knee and reached for what looked like a huge cigar.
“now” he said with a heavy sigh. “ lets get fucking stoned
A shared escape from the structural confines of the standard day to day is above all else a bonding experience. Being bracketed by the north and south poles of motivations, My mind was having a difficult time accounting for all the possibilities.
As the weed came back around to me I smiled thinking about the possible conversations we could have. Being the ring leader of this reality imagined I myself felt humbled at the infinite possibilities.
I exhaled and was then racked by a fit of coughing. I heard Mars laugh.
Aphrodite swatted his leg, smiling she handed me some water.
“Oh man” I said trying to relax “Mars what did you just do to me.” I felt the room expand and contract as though I was the center of the universe. I relaxed back into the chair and watched Aphrodite take several hits and pass the smoke to Mars. I felt completely calm, clear headed and safe.
Mars tapped the blunt on the astray sighed and chuckled to himself.


“You Know” he said while staring up at the ceiling, “there is a huge difference between this stuff and all other forms of escape. Perception is reality however fragile its still all there really is. You can never really know anything, other than what you believe and I believe this to be the perfect drug. It takes away the many different parallels of thought and focuses your mind on one thing. In that time you are free to truly grasp the power of your mind.”
Aphrodite took the flower from her hair and set it on the table in front of her. The pink and white of the petals accentuated by the black reflective surface of the table top.
I stared at it trying to imagine the infinite wisdom it possessed. People seem to be driven by two things beauty and destruction. All emotions seem to reside in-between those parameters.
“Mars” I said “ what is your take on the notion of fear?”
“what are you scared of?” he asked resting his chin between his thumb and forefinger.
“I remember sitting in my condo about a month ago talking with my sister about my up and coming deployment. I told her that the only think I was really scared of was being in a situation and not reacting. Freezing up as it where.”
“what did she say” Aphrodite asked.
“ Without hesitation she looked right at me and said, you can’t freeze up, it will be way to hot over there.”
I closed my eyes reliving the moment. She was sitting to my left on the couch playing that new numbers game soduku.
“ I remember being rendered speechless by her statement, as though she knew it was coming and had prepared the perfect response.”
“Fear is a biological defense mechanism that has evolved over millions of years to give your body that extra edge when the mind feels threatened.” Mars added “ the fear you have known up to this point in your life has been necessary in preparing you to go to war. However” he paused “you have yet to experience true fear of death. Within this next year you will find yourself in situations were you will feel and know the massive scope and debilitating capacities of fear. Let us discuss it more down the road.”
“OK, that makes sense,” I said “but what about this. Earlier, one of the guys I’m with brother was on leave from Iraq. He stopped by in the barracks and gave us a brief rundown on the situation over there as he sees it.”
I went on to describe how my buddies brother described how the guys over there simply wanted to do there time without getting blown up. He sat on the end of a cot smiling as only a man who has seen the others can. In-between his statement of sarcasm and cynicism I wondered what we all must look like to him. Guys with silly hopes and ideas about a foreign land. Full of hopes and dreams of making a difference. Trained in tactics that have long become obsolete.
He told us that the standard SOPs for responding to an IED have been scrapped. “no one stops anymore and pulls security because the insurgents have learned our tactics and set daisy chain IEDs where they know we are going to dismount. One convoy lost 6 guys by IEDs placed in all the places they knew we were going to be after the initial explosion.”
Even though we were all discussing the deaths of fellow soldiers we all laughed. Each of us thinking: I hope that doesn’t happen to me.

He continued. “Did ya’ll hear about the apache helicopter that went down? We saw it happen from our AO and called it in. We told higher we could go in and secure the area but army regs didn’t allow it. Even though we were the closest units to the site by far it wasn’t our sector. Regs must be followed so a unit an hour away was called. By the time they got there all they found was two blood trails and tire tracks. Shit, we all new that the next time we would hear about them was on Al Jazera and sure as shit two days later there's a video of two pilots being dragged down the streets burning.”
There was no laughter this time. He seemed to since to lull and added. “The army of course said the video couldn’t be confirmed. Yeah like the two burning white guys might not be the pilots from two days ago.”
As to why that quip was funny I’m not sure. Something about suffering as long as it is at someone else’s expense is usually funny.
“You think the army is gong to tell the families of those guys that the reason they debuted on Iraqi TV is because some officer worrying about his possible promotion didn’t want to break regs and do his fucking job.
Again, although we all laughed, I saw the frustration. Who knows whether or not it’s a good or bad thing to mask human frailty with laughter….I guess it’s better than crying.
As attentive as I wanted them to be Mars and Aphrodite listened. I hadn’t stopped talking for several minutes so I recommended that we go outside and take a walk down to the bay.

ARMOR DOWN UPDATES

This post was guided by the 110th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba



Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".

This bill will

• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.

• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.


Show your support for this legislation by signing this petition.


A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.

Folk singer Big Cat Wilson created this song which was inspired by Armor Down.

Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.

ONLY 4 POSTS LEFT

Thursday, April 10, 2014

We Create Our Reality. Part 1

This begins my final five post. I made a commitment to use the Art of Peace as an outline and have done so for the past 109 Thursdays.

The following was written between 2006 and 2009.


Everything has come full circle.

---------------

Trying not to think.
Failing.

The curse of perseverance.
Maybe a song
Will calm my nervousness,
This time in my arms.

Ahh the clarity from
Fire.
The blessed moment.

Code words make
Communications easy,
Reflexive.

Trickling back to the
Foreground, snickering
My thoughts return.

I wanted to go to war. Having been back home for several months I can see the reflection of desire and envy of my memories in the eyes of even the most successful men.

For me going off to war was a way for me to hopefully clear my head. Crazy as that must sound, deep down I was hoping that I would find a better understanding of myself over all else.

That’s why I joined the military in the first place. The days leading up to basic training, I imagined a time after it was all said and done, where I was at peace inside my own skin. By that I mean happy with who I was and proud enough to walk down the streets without worry or fear. Not worry or fear from attack or death but worry or fear from doubt. Doubt that I wasn’t good enough. Doubt that the person I am wasn’t good enough to be happy.


I knew basic training was just the beginning. I knew that eventually I would end up over seas somewhere fighting in the inevitable culmination of our shared, anger, rage, and fear, brought upon by our own feelings of doubt, brought to a boil by September 11th.

To be is to be perceived. Some French philosopher said that and I new it to be true. This notion of perception is what drives us. Read anything by Alexander Dumas, a French writer who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo,among other things, and you will see that the translation from French to English incorporates the notion of perception. So and So perceived so and so doing, doing or acting. The notion of why isn’t concrete. Never has been, may never be, therefore this notion of perception is entirely personal. That being said, inside a team perception is such a powerful force which I realized early on that perception can make or break any experience.

Knowing that how I was perceived by my fellow soldiers could enhance or severely hinder our ability to communicate on a life or death stage I decided to keep some of my more personal thoughts to myself. To exsplain this further let me take you back to the Christmas of 05.

Sitting in the living room of my parents house I questioned my uncle as to the novel he was reading. The book was called American gods. My notions of the spiritual world, the divine, have been changing and expanding ever since I realized that there was more than just the faith I was brought up with.

Without going into to great of detail, American gods delves into the notion that gods become real, and stay real as soon as anyone perceives them to be so. This being what I believe is the true power each individual possesses I decided to reach out to two gods in particular. The obvious choice to me was Mars, the Roman god of war, and Aphrodite, the Greek god of love.

I believe that human beings fascination with war revolves around the notion that in war, human beings are giving the opportunity to experience the best and worse we have to offer. Only on this stage are humans confronted with the worse and the best human beings are capable of. Plus, considering the fact that there can’t be light without dark and visa versa I decided to reach out to both Mars and Aphrodite.

It was the night before one of our first company training weekends that I prayed to Mars. I was in the shower, hot water cascading off my face the first time I mentioned his name.

I prayed that I would be tactically sound in the face of the enemy.

I prayed for calm in the face of fear.

I said that for his protection I would sacrifice my own moments of pleasure starting the day my orders arrived placing me on active duty.

That cold January night there was three claps of thunder. My whole life I can not think of any time I ever heard thunder in the winter time. I believed that he heard me. I believed that the thunder was a sign that he was listening.

It was in Pittsburg at the embassy sweets that I prayed to Aphrodited for the first time. Again I was in the shower.

I got down on my knees and asked her to help me keep my compassion. Again with water running down my face I prayed that she would hear me and help me through the war. After drying off with a towel around my waist I steped out into the room.

My roommate was watching TV at the time. I do not know what show, probably one of the CSI shows. Anyway the first thing I heard from the television was "all you have to do is believe". As with Mars I believed that she heard me.

In-between these two instances and Fort Bragg, at our last stop before Iraq, I did my best not to feel lonely. This is what I wrote on the seventh of January 2006.

“Today begam my change to full military. My mind doesn’t like it and probably won’t for the next several weeks. Its lonely when you go in a different direction that everyone else. Its exciting but in the beginning its scary, plus the whole thing is up in the air and I don’t really have any control over it. My goal is to keep my attitude clean and uncorrupted by doubt. Heres the deal. When you get down on your lot in life don’t isolate yourself. Don’t try to reason your way out of fear and doubt. Accept what you feel and get back to feeling others. Connect, listen and learn. They are not your close friend for nothing. In love there aren’t answers.”

The different training we went through in preparation for deployment was for the most part fun. The food of course was terrible and the fact that we were in Pittsburg during the winter training training for a war in the desert never made sense to me, however I began to understand what we were actually doing several weeks in.

I doubt there is a soldier alive that will tell you that the training they received before deployment adequately prepared them for the situation they were about to be put into.

However by changing my perception I realized that that wasn’t the point. Training, in any form, helps a team learn about each other. Being around anyone for an extended period of time helps you learn about the guy next to you. Regardless of the utility of the training we learned about each other. In that sense we prepared ourselves to face what ever was to come next, together.

Preparing for war reminded me of my family preparing for our week long camping trips when I was a kid. Frantic parents trying to make sure they had everything and then trying to make sure us kids had everything. The only difference was that further up the ladder someone was deciding when we were supposed to leave. Day after day we trained, prepared our gear and tried to keep ourselves entertained.

I found the evenings to be the toughest. Some guys called their girlfriends or wives. Some even had their wives or girlfriends come and visit them, I had made it a point not to be attached knowing I was about to be deployed, thus had no-one in particular to talk to. Both my parent did however come down on April 1st to visit. I told them prior to their departure that I only wanted them to come for a day. It was wonderful to be around people that loved me. It hurt me to see my mother cry when we said our goodbyes.

The week leading up to our depature was such a lonely time. Each of us being left with our own thoughts and assumptions about what we were about to face. At times I wished I was around close friends, other times I wished to be alone. I didn’t know what I wanted, I just wanted to stop thinking the way I was thinking.

Then one day, exploring the old WWII barracks I found and old room with a chair and a desk made out of a door held up by two over turned trash cans. When the day was done and we had been released I went up to that room with a pinch of dip, a spit bottle, and my journal.

I created my own world on paper.

ARMOR DOWN UPDATES

This post was guided by the 109th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba



Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".

This bill will

• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.

• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.


Show your support for this legislation by signing this petition.


A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.

Folk singer Big Cat Wilson created this song which was inspired by Armor Down.

Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.

ONLY 5 POSTS LEFT

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Does Divine Providence Exist?

The final sentence of the United States Declaration of Independence is as follows: And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protections of Divine providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

In 1776 this document represented the greatest long shot in the history of the world.

Not since the Jews exodus from Egypt had a less organized, less trained, and less equipped, group of people taken on such risk.

In 1776, our rulers, the British were the most powerful force in the world. Superior in all aspects of warfare.

I draw your attention to these facts to point out that in the beginning, right after the declaration was presented to the public, General Washington and The Continental Army were largely seen as nothing more than rabble rousers.

Disenchanted miscreants in desperate need of a good thrashing.

And yet, as you well know, they pulled it off.

Divine Providence?

For Example:

At Brooklyn Heights NY the British Army had Washington's army surrounded in a great semi-circle with their backs to the mile wide East River.

The British completely blocked any route on land which left only the wide East River.

Washington set out to evacuate his army by ordering every rowboat, sailboat and seagoing vessel to be collected in the area. At 8:00 pm on the night of August 29, 1776 the evacuation of the troops commenced.

The retreat continued throughout the darkness of the pre-dawn. But as the sun began to rise, many troops were yet to be evacuated. Their death seemed apparent. But again, an astonishing thing occurred.

Major Benjamin Talmage was still on the island and he recorded what happened in his memoirs: "After dawn of the next day approached, those of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety and when the dawn appeared there were several regiments here on duty.

At this time, a very dense fog began to rise out of the ground and off the river. It seemed to settle in a peculiar manner over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar Providential occurrence perfectly well. And so very dense was the atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man six yards distance. We tarried until the sun had risen but the fog remained as dense as ever."

The fog remained until the last boats left Long Island.

Another miraculous event occurring during this retreat was recorded by Washington Irving in his 'Life of Washington'. Near the ferry, where the troops were being evacuated, a family lived who favored the British cause. Upon seeing the army's embarkation, the lady of the house sent a servant to warn the British of what was happening. The servant managed to slip past the American guards but upon reaching the British lines he ran into an outpost of German speaking soldiers (Hessians) and was unable to communicate with them. The servant was put under guard at the outpost as a suspicious person until early in the morning when a British officer examined him.

Pretty incredible, huh?

Now let's juxtapose that to the invasion of Iraq

Superior in every way, the American military wiped the Iraqi Military in no time flat.

The butt whipping was so severe that our Commander in Chief landed on an aircraft carrier under a banner of "Mission Accomplished."

We all know how that turned out.

What happened? Washington lamented his poor predicament but he held true to his integrity and honor and things worked out.

Granted, it took assistance from the French and six more years to get the job done but the little continental army survived and independent from the British we became!

Centuries later......what happened?

Same Nation.

Where was Divine Providence?



ARMOR DOWN UPDATES

This post was guided by the 108th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba



Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".

This bill will

• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.

• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.


Show your support for this legislation by signing this petition.


A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.

Folk singer Big Cat Wilson created this song which was inspired by Armor Down.

Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Divinity in Every Breath

The past couple of day have been unique in the sense that I've felt incredibly morose. I'd have little spurts of happiness and levity but my underlying experience was sadness.

Knowing what I know about myself and my bodies' response to different techniques I used my training time to alter my general mood.

I practiced breathing techniques, sprints on the treadmill, heavy lifting, really slow concentrated lifting, inversions, whole body exercises, kettle bell and yoga.

Nothing held. I'd feel the effects of the training but they wouldn't last.

In moments of mindlessness I found my wondering mind search for the problem.

My little daughter didn't sleep well.....

My wife is asking too much of me....

Life is demanding to much......

Things aren't going my way fast enough.....

Then as my mind is want to do it started projecting into the future....

Your goals will no not be achieved.....

Your mistakes will hurt you.....

You will fail......

You are not good enough......

At any given moment I felt my minds propensity to hang around one possible lamentation as though waiting for me to fixate on it to give it life.

Like a dog waiting for permission to eat, my mind was waiting for me to identify with anything so that it could find a thousand reasons why one malaise was the true problem.

My wife asked me what was wrong after the third night I wasn't quite myself, and I felt all the possible answers clamber towards my mouth hoping to be picked by me as the cause.

But there was nothing to say. I looked deep into my wife's eyes and told her very truthfully that there was nothing in particular that was wrong. I was just feeling down and that was ok.

Today the feeling is gone. Like nothing ever happened. My mind is still producing this, that, and the other, thought and each one is clambering for acknowledgement but gone is the heaviness.

Things feel different and yet everything is the same.

Last week I posed the question "which part of the breath is most important"?

There is the inhale, the exhale, and the pause.

Clearly the inhale brings in life, clearly the exhale sends out waste, but what does the pause do?

Clearly the inhale provides the foundation for all human biological processes, and yet so too does the exhale. Do the trees not breath in what we breath out as fuel for their existence?

Inhale is clearly up, exhale is clearly down.

But what is the pause?

Inhale surely expands towards the heavens, exhale obviously grounds towards the earth.

But what about the pause?

I think the pause is God.

I think the pause is Krishna because it isn't anything and yet it distinguishes everything.

I think the pause is Allah because it's not up or down, but allows for up or down to exist.

I think the pause is Buddha because the pause is the platform of awareness.

I think the pause is Yahweh because everyone experiences it whether they realize it or not.

I think the pause is God because I can rest in it when the down is prominent in my life.

I think the pause is Jesus not giving into temptation during his 40 days in the desert.

I think this because even though I don't feel down anymore my mind still wants all of my awareness and that's a slippery slope too.

ARMOR DOWN UPDATES

This post was guided by the 107th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba



Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".

This bill will

• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.

• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.


Show your support for this legislation by signing this petition.


A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.

Folk singer Big Cat Wilson created this song which was inspired by Armor Down.

Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.