Thursday, October 10, 2013

Those who gave, he who takes & a dream

I have been to the monuments dedicated to the unknown soldiers of only two nations: The United States and Poland. For a time while I was in the Marine Corps, I was stationed at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia. While there, I spent a few weekends in Washington, D.C., and among the places I went were Arlington National Cemetery and to its Tomb of the Unknowns, as well as to the Marine Corps War Memorial just outside the cemetery. The photographs I took in these places were long ago and are long gone though time and divorce and travel and distance. Unlike those photographs, the one here was taken on April 4, 2010. It is the Polish Tomb of the Unknowns. It is in the heart of Warsaw, and was only three or four blocks from my apartment there. I visited it a number of times. Tombs and old battlefields fascinate me. Now, to the point: I posted this photograph today because I have been angry about the despicable, shabby, unconscionable treatment American war veterans, war dead and their families have been receiving the past few days at the political whim of President Barack Obama and his lackey, Secretary of Defense Charles "Chuck" Hagel. Because of the closure of war memorials and the denial of "death benefits" to families of veterans by the Obama Administration, it seems appropriate to me to spend a few moments thinking about those who serve their nations in the military and especially those who gave their lives -- whether American or Polish or fighters for individual rights and liberty anywhere -- so that their countrymen and women have the freedom to exist without tyranny in their lives. This is a point so obviously forgotten by the current "my way or the highway" (his words, not mine) resident of the White House. Now, just to demonstrate I can be as tyrannical and arbitrary as the next guy, here is an entire Alice Cooper concert. Try it, you might learn something -- about yourself. My favorite Cooper song, near the end of this performance, is "Poison." Every man experiences a woman who is poison during his lifetime .... at least, I hope he does ....

To fall, to jump or to stay put

Once upon a time, I was married to a young lady who is deathly afraid of heights -- so afraid, that I could not comprehend it until I actually saw it occur and she was clinging to me with strength I did not realize she possessed.

As for me, I do not feel comfortable functioning at heights. This is not to say I have any real fear of heights, and I have ample credentials to demonstrate that fact, most notably taking skydiving lessons a few days after graduating from high school. I can and have and will again function at significant heights; I simply do not like doing so and always feel like I am out of my element.

We all, I assume, have an idea of the accepted theories regarding dreams about falling. In a sentence, such dreams usually are associated with fear of failure or experiencing actual failure in any of a thousand ways. I have had such dreams, but not for a number of years.

However .... in recent months, I have experienced dreams in which I am on a precipice and in imminent danger of falling. How different is this than a dream of actually falling?

Most of these dreams have involved being near the rather steeply sloping, grassy ledge of an earthen cliff. A sandy beach with scattered boulders and the sea are far below. I am sitting down and leaning back on my elbows -- sort of half reclining. My feet are within a few inches of the edge. I do not dare to move, thinking I might slip on the grass or the edge of the cliff might crumble and give way.

In these dreams, someone is behind me. I do not know who. I ask the person to find a rope, to secure it and to toss it to me before I try to move back up the slope. 

At the same moment, I am wondering if I could successfully navigate a descent of the cliff without actually falling. There is a small protrusion from the cliff ten or twelve feet below me, and I am visually trying to pick a pathway for jumping from outcrop to outcrop until I safely reach the beach below. Once upon a time, this was sort of a game for me, and I never took too bad a fall doing it. But, this cliff is steeper than those in games of the past -- almost sheer. A new and more difficult challenge.

The dreams always end at this point, with me waiting to discover if the unknown person behind me will toss me a rope and, at the same time, considering making an attempt to actually descend the cliff.

I suppose some of us usually (constantly?) are perched at the edge of some manner of cliff in our lives. We never are completely happy, never entirely content, never fully satisfied -- always gazing to see what is around the next curve in the road or the next bend on the river, always anxious to reach the crest of the next mountain in hopes of sighting Shangri-La in the valley below.

Who knows? Perhaps, the dream will never end and I will forever remain on that steeply sloping, grassy ledge of an earthen cliff high above a sandy beach with scattered boulders and the sea far below.

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Something special ....