I am trying to ask myself, 'why am I here? ' Maybe I will be able to ask myself that question. Maybe I asked it a thousand times, but don't remember. Maybe I might, just might, be able to answer it someday, but not right now, there is far too much going on around me.
Our lives move forward one by one
To what feels like a lonely universe to some.
Going on like atoms spinning to and fro,
Moving as though there is no place to go.
I am a Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Elder. I served in the US Army in Vietnam with the 1st Special Forces Group. I am a Historian and an avid reader, writer of comical short stories and I am about to publish a book about a Legend I dreamed about. I am also an artist and a cartoonist, who can not tune his own car. Hmm, maybe I should stop. Do you think?)
War Isn'T Like The Movies Or Is It?
I am trying to ask myself, 'why am I here? ' Maybe I will be able to ask myself that question. Maybe I asked it a thousand times, but don't remember. Maybe I might, just might, be able to answer it someday, but not right now, there is far too much going on around me. Some of it makes all kinds of sense, but I am lost as to why so much of it makes no sense at all. Please, someone tell me what's going on. Where am I?
It obviously looks like I am at a 'firebase' in Vietnam under a full scale attack, and I'm stuck in a 'foxhole' fifty feet too shallow. There's zillions of bullets zipping around like angry bees, along with millions of tons of shrapnel from exploding mortars, claymore mines, artillery shells, grenades, and bones. People, young people, are dying, but they aren't screaming. Hell, I'm not even screaming. I know, with all of the rifle fire and all the other stuff going off, I wonder if I could even hear screaming. I hear it in my nightmares. At least I'd hear myself screaming, like every cell and nerve in my body. But there is a vocal silence, and that silence is deafening.
I also figure, that with all of the reports of so many weapons, it would be impossible to hear myself think, and here I am thinking. How can that be? How can I even find time to think? I don't even have time to aim: just point my rifle in the general direction and pull, not squeeze, the trigger. Hell, it's totally possible Im not even pulling the trigger, but yelling, 'Bang Bang Bang...' My rifle might be loaded, but chances are that it's not. Who would even notice? Everyone is in their own private Hell, or they're dead and at the real place, laughing at us, knowing we'll get there eventually, whether it's minutes away or years. Meanwhile, we'll just hang around our own Hell.
Again I still have to ask myself, 'How am I able to hear myself think? ' It's loud, but not as loud as I can remember, at least what is still trapped in my subconscious. What's wrong? I've been here before. I'm an active participant in the past millions of years of lemmings blindly jumping over the cliffs of War without any sign of thought process. Why isn't it as loud as it's suppose to be? I'm not going deaf; after forty years I still hear my heart pounding, and I hear myself holding my breath.
I suddenly realize something else apparently amiss. It's what I smell or what I don't smell. A battle stinks literally and figuratively. What I expect to smell is what only a battle survivor would know or try to forget. Besides cordite, there is sweat, puke, and what's in my drawers. Not just what I smell on myself, there is the accumulation of the same smells on all the others, plus there are the odors of blown open entrails, stomach contents, brains, and blood, yes, lots of blood. What I do smell is beyond any logical sense, because what I do smell is smelly perfume and deodorant, mixed with different kinds of aftershave.
A modern battle, unlike the old forgotten battles of the past, is still kept alive by those who were there and are still alive to have the shakes, the nightmares and the night sweats. We know the mortars and artillery determine that the ones in front are not necessarily the first to die, or if fate determines, survives.
Something else is so very wrong. It is the taste in my mouth. Besides the taste of puke and blood from biting my tongue, I was expecting my nerves to give me that sour rancid taste, but what do I taste? I taste what tastes like salt and some kind of buttery substance. That is all. I taste nothing else.
Suddenly, a thirst starts to overwhelm me. That is not so uncommon, considering the heat of South East Asia. But my thirst is something else entirely. My body feels cool, even downright cold, but my mind is fixated on the salty taste, I imagine a table salt kind of taste.
Suddenly the bomb goes off. It's not a battlefield kind of bomb, it's a wake-up kind of bomb that puts your consciousness back to where you are. It is like driving half asleep and suddenly wondering how you got to where you are without crashing.
I can now solve all those mysteries and turn my head towards my date and ask if there is any cola left to quench the thirst caused by the movie theater's over salty popcorn. then I try to figure out from the credits whether or not I was watching a comedy and just flashing back, or if I stupidly consented to actually watching a War movie. Either way I have to compose myself to walk back out to real life, whatever that is and wonder, 'Why am I here? '