Walking between them I let the sights and sounds of the night lull me into a state of emptiness. Aphrodite had her arm through mine. That feeling of mutual support was unparalleled by anything. Walking arm and arm with someone you don’t have to think about is a wonderful sensation. I knew that there was nothing she needed to ask me for yet I would have given her anything. She made me feel secure because I made her feel safe. I cherished her presence. I felt my whole existence in that few square inches where our skin met.
“More than anything I want to be in love.” I said not so much to her or Mars just out loud hopping from some kid of assurance.
“ what do you think love is” Aphrodite said.
“I see it as a circle.” I responded looking at a cat starring at me from under a bush.
“Its when a person finds happiness in making another person happy. That person in turn feels the same way. Thus their lives are spent together in a circle of respect and self sacrifice.”
“What if I told you that love wasn’t an emotion?” She had stoppend and was leaning with her back against the waist high wall separating us from the marina. She crossed her left leg over her right and continued. What you described in your circle theory was not an emotion but a state of being. Love has many forms but it is more of a way of life than a way of feeling. Many a person goes through life as though they aren’t whole. They are half a person looking for someone to complete them. When they find that so called love of their life imagine the underlying pressure being placed upon one another.”
Without missing a beat Mars continued her statement.
“You wanna talk about fear, imagine feeling whole only when you are with someone else. Imagine the fear of being alone again. The belief that love can only be created with the love of another is a farce.”
After handing me a lit cigarette Aphrodite took over.
“Love is a way of being. Love is the ultimate foundation. Your parents for example, tell us about them”
Well” I said, “they seem to be as in love as the day they met. They compliment each other in every way.”
“For example” Mars encouraged.
“ Ok for example, my mom went to a European table china warehouse and bought a bunch of plates. Before she got hom my dad calls me up and says, Son your mother is coming home tomorrow, make sure you ask her about the plates she bought.” I say “pops I don’t know shit about plates what the hell am I supposed to say.” Doesn’t matter son, just ask about them and she will do the rest.”
Aphrodite smiled a knowing smile and said “smart man”
“Anyway the next day I call and after the normal pleasantries I say “so mom tell me about these new plates.” Well she tells me all about the plates, how much money she saved on them, who she got them for, what they looked like etc etc. I didn’t really care, you know plates not being my thing and all, but I could hear the happiness in her voice, so regardless, I felt good to be sharing in her joy.”
Aphrodite came over and sat next to us on the bench, she smelled like the way the sun feels.
“What you did was share in her life. Her love of life. A life she created and she is sharing with a son she and your father created. Your mother and father didn’t need each other to become whole. They realized that together their love of life would become stronger.”
It was Mars turn to take center stage.
“You grasp the concept of a shared love of life. You know what harmony and love look like. You were raised by it. You see it and hear it every time you have contact with your parents” He stopped and looked me right in the eye. “Your time will come but at this moment you are not ready. You are cought up in the notion that some outside force will change you or fix you. That by going away to Iraq you will all of a sudden be the self confident smart whitty person that you dream about when watching James Bond movies. This time in your life will be just like any other time in your life……it will be entirely up to you.”
The three of us started wakling back up to the house. My high was fading into a peaceful fog which left me tired and a little hungry.
“So Mars" I said looking back at the two of them walking side by side. “I’m going to need you help with something.”
“Shoot” He said looking up at me.
“I wanna be knighted” They both laughed “No seriously I wanna be a knight of the Realm. I’ll have a business card that says, Sir Benjamin H. King Knight of the Realm.” I gestured the order of the writing with my hands.
“How do you plan on doing that, pray tell” Mars said. I did not fail to hear sarcasm in his voice.
“Mars, I scoff at your lack of confidence” I proclaimed.
“He likes to show off his massive vocabulary when he’s trying to impress.” Aphrodite chided me.
“My dear god and goddess, its elementary” I gave them a pronounced bow and almost fell over a tree root. As though my stubble never happened I continued.
“I will in spectacular fashion and with remarkable courage save prince William from certain death at the hands of the terrorists.” To add emphasis to my proclamation I stood in a most regal fashion with my chin held high, my hand balled in a fist at my hip and the other raised in a gesture of heavenly acceptance.
“Here, Here” said Mars.
“You may both accompany me to Winsor Palace as my Guests of honor” I said
“What ever shall I wear?” Aphrodite said with a smirk.
“Come on young Knight lets go back to the house.” Mars said continuing up the drive.
Back in the living room both of them still chuckling at my forced bravado I said in a more serious tone.
“The powers that be expect a lot from me. I was told the other night that every deployment has their potential successes.” I paused lighting a cigarette. “this year so it seems, its me.”
“Does that surprise you” Mars asked.
“I don’t know…..not really, I’m pretty good at al this stuff. The military has always fascinated me. As a kid I played guns with friends, had mock battles in my neighborhood. I remember the first package I ever got was from the US calvary catalog. I ordered a fake grenade, a Gator survival knife, with a sling shot built into the sheath and a diamond knife sharpener…you know that thing never did work very well”
I reached into the green box and pulled out some herb and started rolling another joint. “you know what I remember most is the anticipation. After the first week I started asking my parents every day if a package had come for me. I’m not sure what I thought was so life changing about my order but I believed it was something very special.”
As I lit the splif and passed it around I described how I waited day after day until finally it came.
“Opening the box was like finally finding buried treasure. There was my connection to the soldiers, my fake grenade. My survival knife that made all the daydreams of being stranded on my own that much more real”
Looking at both of them, all be it figments of my reality, I felt a great since of comfort. There they sat as attentive as students in a favorite class, listening without judgment only with compassion. I had truly found an outlet for my thoughts.
Aphrodite sat forward passing me the L. “there’s melancholy in your voice, why?” she asked
“Because as with all things that don’t become an integral part of your life, only your imagination they lost their luster.”
"Strangely enough I know I am going to have real grenades and a beautiful knife which will become an integral part of my reality. Funny how shit works out.”
“I leave for war tomorrow.” I said shaking my head and smiling. “this is all real. No more imagination and stories of future victories. Its now the future the past all the same right here in the present.”
Sitting in the most Spartan of rooms hovered over a desk held together by two upturned trash cans I closed the discussion. I am dreading the call home to say good bye to my parents. I don’t want to imagine their fears. They have already lost one son.
I find it very fitting that its rainy outside. The sky is grey, the rain is falling just hard enough to make you wanna start thinking about going inside.
I feel very serious, intensely lonely. I have felt creation going on in my heart all day. In spurts and jumps my soul has been running around getting things ready for my body to follow.
I finished my transformation earlier today in a conversation about democracy. Later I found the reference to Oedipus I was thinking about constantly the other day. Later the song by Sting and the Police, that was stuck in my head was the next song I heard on my Ipod. Later still the only song playing on the Bus’s radio was Black Velvet. Finally the grand finally; I have seen this guy before never once noticing his name until today. Facing me while he waits to take a seat on the bus I see his name tape. Fate.
Long wooden Benches,
In formation like the rest.
A soldier sits across from me
With Fate across his chest.
I broke myself down during this month and a half. Now it seems just right. I’m on the way up, all pistons firing as I get ready to leave. If I could have planned this this would have been exactly how I would have wanted it. Funny how shit works out.
Mars is sitting across from me. I find it funny that he is wearing red galoshes. Aphrodite is sitting to my left wearing red rain boots. You know the ones you see in a commercial for Tide or some other family based product were a kid is jumping up and down in a puddle with big red rubber boots accentuating the smallness of the child. Only on Aphrodite it just makes her all the more mesmerizing.
“Are those boots prada” I asked smiling
“Look whos talking” she says to him. Looking at me she smiles and says. “we stoped at Walmart on the way here, we weren’t sure you needed us, but we were glad you called.”
“I can’t offer you much, there is a soda and coffee machine on the left” I gestured to the opening by the front of the bay. “and I have dollars if you need them.”
“Give me a dollar Ben” Mars said standing up.
I reached into my bag and gave him two. “Aphrodite, do you want anything”? I asked
“Get me a pepsi.” She says then to me sliding a little closer. “what did you dream last night.”
“I remember seeing a Fox in a cage. It was for lack of a better word….regal. It was glowing, I remember it was amazing to look at. It started out small then got bigger . I wanted to touch it. I remember reaching for it then…..bam.” I slapped my hands together. “it took off.”
Mars joined us again and handed Aphrodite her soda then sat to my right.
“Anyway I started chasing after it but I kept having trouble with small obstacles and the fox was incredibly fast. Each time I got close it never tried to bit me it just wanted to be free. During the chase I remember” I closed my eyes bringing back the images in my mind. “I ran past a man singing opera. I heard a woman talking. The chase ran me into what looked like the side entrance of a church. Again I had a hard time getting over a small wall. Climbing the wall I remember my fingers starting to bleed from the rocks. I then heard an all girls French class being taught by an old man. I never caught the fox, then I woke up.”
Mars said after a moments thought, “It sounds like you are chasing a part of yourself, only that you are chasing it through your past. Which would explain the trouble dealing with small obstacles and being too slow.”
“Aphrodite said. “Yeah, the French, the old church, it all seems very European”. She looked at me with soft eyes.
“All that makes since, but what does the fox stand for.” I asked
“The fox is your potential for growing as a result of your past but is only attainable by looking towards your future and not being so bogged down with emotional baggage from your past” Mars said
Aphrodite continued. “You are who you are because of your life, your pearls.” She tapped my right shoulder. “The fox is you trying to be free, but for some reason you are still, sometimes, not all the time, stuck emotionally in your past.”
“You are heading to war” Mars said putting his hand on my shoulder “My territory.” He jestured to my right. “That 2 Pam Cloride isen’t a training prop.” He looked directly at me and sad in the softess most terrifying voice I have ever heard, “Ben, you are ready.”
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This post was guided by the 111th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba
Armor Down is backing Legislation "H.R. 3516" AKA "The Veterans and Armed Forces’ Health Promotion Act of 2013".
This bill will
• Expand the scope of holistic care education and research for signature wounds such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
• Establish complementary and alternative medicine pilot programs for mental health and pain management treatment for veterans.
• Create a grant pilot program to upgrade Veteran Service Organization facilities, expanding the reach of wellness services directly into economically strained communities.
Show your support for this legislation by signing this petition.
A new comedy on Fox, called Enlisted is really funny. Check it out.
Folk singer Big Cat Wilson created this song which was inspired by Armor Down.
Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.
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