Friday, August 26, 2005


"We at war with terrorism, racism, most of all, we at war with ourselves."
--Kanye West

Scars. How many scars do we have. Superfical, mental, and spiritual. The essence of a scar is in its permanence. Forever. They have...become a part of us. As such, they define us. We are our laughter, our thoughts, spoken and silent, and so much more. Above all these, are our scars.

Where do we get these scars? Our enemies. It has been said that the only teachers who teach us anything worth learning and remembering are our enemies. Wether you find them at the end of a rifle or point of a pen. Our enemies are the blacksmiths who forge us from raw earth into the instrument that we choose to become...or let them mold us into against our will.

I have a scar on my left knee from reconstructive surgery. I tore my ACL in a sacrafice to the Football Patheon. I was told that I could not join the military because it would not let me perform to the rigorous Army standard. There is a dark patch of skin on my right elbow. It was red with clotted blood after a friend told me that I could not skateboard down a ramp. Now its hardly noticable, but I know its there.

Challenges, Dares, Obstacles real and imagined....enemies all. It always comes down to you versus it, him, her, or them. What do you do when that happens? What synapes fire in the deep and dark corners of your mind? What nerves begin to send signals to your muscles in reaction to the barks of your mind and spur you to an action? Fight or Flight.


Only through conflict of the self versus everyone and everything do we learn anything about ourselves. Your strength of will against the whole fucking world. Like a slab of marvel in the hands of Michaelangelo. Each conflict chips away at you like a hammer and pick. Each drop of blood. Each tear of frustration. Every single cry of pain. The acidic burn of the taste of your own blood flowing down your throat from biting your tounge to keep from screaming out. Slowly shapes you into who you were meant to become. Each scar is another piece of marble gone. After time we begin to realize that all these scars have created the masterpiece that is the self. The person of belief and self assurance.

You see, when you avoid conflict for fear of the scar. You deny the artist the chance to mold you into the work of art we were all supposed to become. A life devoid of conflict is no life at all. Face your enemies. Let them knock you down...

When you are knocked down, you prove to the world that you stood for a reason.

It is in that instance. That divine moment of clairity when your clothes are covered in dust, when you are soaked in sweat, when you can't take another breath. In that perfect moment when the world has tried to knock you take another step.

Yes, we may fall again and we may fail.

There, our enemy has taught us of our most valuable lesson, our weakness. Now, we can go about confronting our weakness. So that when the time comes again we will be ready. We will have the scar from the last confrontation, and will have LEARNED from it.

It is when you do not confront your enemies, that they become something far worse. Demons. Demons of regret, guilt, and loss. Unlike our enemies they teach us nothing. Instead they haunt us. Constantly tormenting us of our past failure and our inability to think or act when we needed to. Demons beget man nothing. We all have a few of these. Times in our lives when we refused the chisel of the artist and chose to remain content with our misshapen form.

People say that pacifism is the answer, and they mistakenly associate this with a life without conflict, a life of harmony. Ghandi and MLK come to mind. Their lives were born of conflict. Even to the end of their days, their enemies forged them into the great men they became. Why, because they did not shy from chisel. They stood. They were knocked down, they got back up.

A life of peace is an empty life. Inner peace is being a wall. A wall that has a self confidence and understanding of what it is and what it wants to do in this world. Knowledge of the self.

How do we attain the knowledge of the self? By letting our enemies teach us.

A difficult mid-term, a job interview, a difficult relationship...all enemies. Enemies that we must learn from. If not, they will become the demons of our past and haunt us till the end of our days.

We are at war right now. A continuous conflict with an enemy. We will learn from this. We must learn from this. The cost of this lesson has been great. The price of this knowledge is more than some are comfortable with. That is not my place to decide.

The chisel continues to fall upon this country, these people, and those of us among them.

We are the sum of our scars given to us by our enemies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Learning to go 'sans'

One of the first things you learn when you join the Army is how to go without alot of the things you are used to.

In basic training, you are kept sheltered from the outside world. No television, no newspapers, no internet. No privacy...but that goes without saying.

On a deployment, I thought it would be worse, but it wasn't. I had pretty much everything I needed to be comfortable, save whiskey and women, but hey, I can deal. Not too long ago I was sent on a new mission to establish communications at FOB Red Falcon here in Afghanistan. This was a brand new base. In the military, new is not nessecairily a good thing. This place was pretty damn barren. No kitchen, no showers, and no AC.

Doing without hot chow is easy. MRE's are tolerable for a time. Especially when you get creative with them. Coco mix+Peanut Butter= Ghetto Reese's Pieces mix. No AC, is adjusted too quickly. Eventually your body runs out of water to sweat, so you dont have to worry about that.


That was the roughest. When was the last time you 'scraped' dirt off your skin? Babywipes help alot, but still, they can only cover so much. I mean they start off white and end up black. You learn to adapt though. You become one with the dirt. It becomes a part of you. Everyone else adapts as well. Your sense of smell loses its 'Funk' detector. Around the clean and polished you might reek, yet among your soiled peers, you are brothers in funk.

Your smell is normal for the situation, so is everyone elses, hence...funk is normal.

Luckily, we recently got showers, and by recently I mean today. These 'Showers' have already aquired a quaint nickname. We call them 'R.Kelly Showers.' You see the pumps they use to pressurize the water are not very strong. So the water pressure is horribly and agonizingly weak. So the water comes out in a steady single thick stream.

Like if R.Kelly was peeing on you.

We are doing okay though. Spirits are high, thanks to a Xbox and Madden 2005. Im not a big fan of Sports games. Mainly because I was never that great at them, an episode concerning BaseballStars on the NES comes to mind, but thats for another day.

So we started a Madden tournament to help kill time. The funny thing is we refer to it as if it was a living breathing, Sports Center worthy event. We will sit around eating, saying, "What? you didn't see that game? Oh man, you missed a good one."

It never ceases to amaze me how we adapt so quickly to our surroundings. The mind finds ways to occupy itself, it finds ways to deal. You learn quickly to live outside of your previous lifestyle. Your mind finds way to compensate for what was lost. No TV, you read. No books to read, you write. No paper to write, you make cave drawings. In itself it is a form of survival. You need to adapt and overcome or you will go insane. I think that is the true strength of a soldier. The ability to ignore hunger, fatigue, sleep, and internet depravation, and 'drive on.' It is a return to the basics. Not in the hunter gatherer sense, but the old Tribe system. Where your whole existence is based around survival. You do not create anything of substance or art. You simply do what needs to be done to make it to the next day.

Drive on.