Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Flowers BEFORE The Grave


Pardon me, but this is gonna be a bit "contemplate your naval" stuff....but if I can't share my thoughts with my friends, who can I share them with?

I was watching C-Span's Book TV this morning. I love that channel as they air author interviews all weekend.

So, this morning, Book TV had Author/Journalist Sebastion Junger on. He was discussing his recent book; "Tribe; On Homecoming And Belonging". (You may remember Junger's "The Perfect Storm" from the book and movie of the same name). He is equally known for his reporting from the war zone in Afghanistan.

This morning Junger was discussing Tribe...its central theme that, when soldiers are in war they bond so closely, disregarding race, or social and economic class, or politics. The fog of war softens those walls that humans routinely build between themselves and others, and allows them to form very strong human connections.

I know that to be true, and have written about my own personal relationships from Vietnam.

Sadly, the very bonding, the dissolution of personal walls in time of war, makes it difficult for our soldiers when they return to a fractured society. Junger has interviewed hundreds of war vets and finds that, at least part of the PTSD problems are not just from the savagery of war, but the supreme failure to adjust to our societal fractures.

And those soldiers longed to escape from societal fractures and be back in the war where the walls tumble and hearts are in symphony....even in the cacophony of bombs exploding.

Though not discussed, I suspect that many of us suffer from that same sort of mild despair, even in our civilian careers. When we leave the world of "work" our blood pressure and stress might be less, but there are times when one misses "being in the arena".

And that same sense of disconnect can come after sickness as well. Junger cites a heart-breaking story about a woman who battled breast cancer. And as she waged war against death, her family rallied around her, spent acres of time with her...time to tell her she was respected and loved and valued. The woman beat the cancer, but told Junger she wished she was sick again.....for, upon her recovery, everyone of her family members assumed the benign neglect that we are all, at times, guilty of.

Junger's work made me think, as all good writing does. It would seem we all, whether adorned in olive green, or hospital gown, yearn for flowers, not on our grave, but while we are still alive to enjoy them.

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