Thursday, January 6, 2011


Echoes are an interesting phenomenon.

Defined as :
the repetition of a sound resulting from reflection of the sound waves; a close parallel of a feeling, idea, style, etc.;

Echoes come back to remind us of the original occurrence....

My thoughts drift back to time on the dusty side of the world....sometimes when I least expect it. I am not sure why or what makes it happen but it is an odd experience

I was on the Silver line when the Ipod played the Talking Heads' "Life During Wartime"....

" Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway
a place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
I'm getting used to it now "

"The sound of gunfire, off in the distance...." I was used to that and sometimes still expect it but unlikely that I will hear it back at home. The juxtaposition of the two places (home & battlefield) cause interesting issues....

Many who no longer travel the dusty side of things (AFGHN/IRAQ) speak about missing being back in the thick of it....I have known that feeling and tried to understand why I would feel that way.

The effects of PTSD are still a bit of a mystery to those who study the comes and goes as it wants. Even with all the knowledge that I have acquired on the subject, I still don't know what to make of the experience when it happens.

" Transmit the message, to the receiver
hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, couple of visas
don't even know my real name
High on a hillside, trucks are loading
everything's ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime
I might not ever get home"

" Don't even know my real name..." The ways in which the experience of battle changes each of us varies....some report no change but most will see a measurable difference in themselves....Sebastian Junger writes about it in his book, "WAR" and states that he knows that he and others who have been under fire on the battlefield will never be the same....the experience is akin to what occurred with a Navy Chief when I was heading to Iraq....Our Regiment was at the deployment base in Kuwait and were gearing up for our push to Fallujah. As we were getting ready, there was a Chief from the Unit we were relieving who came down to Kuwait as part of the transfer of command....

We were cleaning our weapons and asked him what "it" was like (being under fire) - what was going on and what could he tell us??? His answer puzzled me as he said, " I could tell you but you'll have to see it for yourself..."

At the time, I was really put off and couldn't figure out why he was unwilling to help us and provide the info we needed...That was until we arrived in Fallujah and the first rounds impacted " danger close" to our location. At that instant, the whole world came into crisp heightened senses were mainlining adrenaline as they have never before. The world changed forever.....there was no going as we knew it would never be the same. We had become different due to a natural reaction preprogrammed into our brains that reacts to direct threats to life & limb..We were alive as we had never been before...almost a rebirth if that makes sense.

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.
I ain't got time for that now..."

"This ain't no fooling around.." Nope, life as I and my shipmates knew it were irrevocably changed. This is life and death - truly.

Many of my shipmates in the Marines never made it out of there....never saw another sunny day, a drive to the Cape, enjoy a night out with the buddies, get a hug from the wife & kids...never again. That had a lasting effect on me and that effect is still interrupting my daily life to this day.

So the ride on the Silver Line did not cause a problem - it was some random piece of the mechanism in my cranium deciding that something it sensed was akin to being back on the dusty side of the world and reactivated a dormant connection. Nevertheless, I am one of the lucky ones.

I will only have to carry the memories while others will not have to worry about it as they have gone to their final resting place.....

" Do not complain about growing old....some never get the opportunity"- Irish Proverb

For now, I will stay "on mission" and look to work with those who have a better understanding of the PTSD issue and help me to be here and "live in the moment".

And the Ipod moves along to the next song, "Crystal Ball" by Styx

I wonder what tomorrow has in mind for me
Or am I even in it's mind at all
Perhaps I'll get a chance to look ahead and see
Soon as I find myself a crystal ball
Soon as I find myself a crystal ball

Tell me, tell me where I'm going
I don't know where I've been
Tell me, tell me, won't you tell me
And then tell me again
My heart is breaking, my body's aching
And I don't know where to go
Tell me, tell me, won't you tell me
I've just got to know

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