Trooper sits, jittery, as the final moments of his favorite show roll by. Football dreams floating on a Hail Mary pass…I cannot know what those memories hold for him, how many he surrendered when he signed a dotted line and stepped onto Fort Hood instead of collegiate turf.
I keep the headphones on, listening to things like this, distracted but watching…I keep a weather eye for those lines crossed, as it was in that moment of the movie when men slipped down a rope in Somalia, knowing…knowing…did he hear old radio chatter in his head, still? Or remember a day on the range with the brave man who leapt to a certain death?
You cannot remove the memories or make them less urgent. And one ought not, anyway. But they should be measured…relived in pieces and parts for an appetite that is sated quickly with that bitter fruit. I haven’t such terrors – or perhaps they were dulled, as so many of those years were, in diaphanous delirium. I feel quite impotent in the face of his mourning, years gone.
Years have passed so quickly that I can hardly remember most of those insults to the psyche. I have always been forgiving, too, understanding flawed souls intimately. I look back and see a great waste of time, decades spent on useless pursuits. But perhaps the path was intended to be barren, broken, and circular. It brought me here, now.
A witness. It was the one thing that stuck with me from the earliest days when I read Heinlein and his character of the “professional witness”. I have tried to avoid making assumptions and believing very little that I had not, myself, experienced. It makes for a more lonely journey. But sure-footed, now.
Glory days…they sustain us, torment us, give us pause and urge us forward.