Next month with be the five year anniversary of my return to civilian life. I'll never forget coming home and believing in my heart of hearts that I would fear nothing. That I would be the Man.
It didn't really work out that way. To draw a more clear example let me tell you about the first time I thought I was "The Man."
The year was 2003.
That year I completed AIT at FT. Bragg.
Ran a marathon in under 4 hours. 3 hours, 59min and 30 seconds to be exact.
And that Fall, for the very first time, got my ass kicked six ways from Sunday.
Now, if you have good eye sight you will be able to read the exact words I wrote the night it happened. I sound strong in that journal entry but what I don't say is how I picked the fight. How I wouldn't let the guy in the white sweater back down or how I saw a flash of excitement in the guys eye right before he executed a perfect wrestler take down on me and then turned my face into mush. Man this guy kicked the ever living crap outta me and the paraded around the streets of Adams Morgan wearing my blood on his sweater as a badge of honor.
I also say in the journal entry that this was the first time I had ever lost a fight. That was true. It never accured to me that I would lose.
To make matters worse I was beginning my job as a personal trainer that next Monday. My face looked so much worse than usual that I wore sunglasses not to scare people.
So all this is to say I changed my approach after this experience and endeavored to find away to approach fighting differently.
I searched around and decided to study the martial art Aikido.
What I liked immediately about the form was the idea of blending with force instead of trying to dominate it. That made sense to me right away as not only a means to handle physical confrontation but also verbal ones.
After my butt whipping this sounded very appealing.
It was during my first day of training that the instructor said its better to be 0 for 0 than 4 for 5. One major loss can really set you back.
So let us return to the task at hand.
As I have already described my triumphant return from Iraq didn't last long.
After the euphoria of returning home wore off, the consequences of war wore me down.
It took me years to learn that the training that served me so well down range had to be readjusted to serve me as a civilian.
I say readjusted because so much of what the military taught me is still immeasurably useful. Armoring down a humvee for use stateside doesn't diminish it's value, it just changes its purpose.
My purpose now is to create peace in my life. Not the grow dreadlocks, stop wearing deodorant, vegetarian peace, but the kinda of peace that lets me sleep fitfully each night. The kind of peace that helps me keep my rage well managed and my patience with myself and others strong and reliable. The kind of peace that shows me the way through conflict well before harsh words or bone crushing fists are ever needed.
Written by Morhito Usheba, The Art of Peace is 114 stanzas explaing how mastering peace can Armor Down a War ravaged mind.
Below is the first Stanza. Over the next 113 weeks I will explain the rest.
1. The art of peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a subtle path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner strength and enjoy life. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the art to all you encounter.