They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Jun 17, 2009

We Can't Stop Here, This Is Bat Country...

And with that I pay homage to my favorite author. The first person to tell me who he is gets...well nothing, but the satisfaction of a job well done. How’s that for a prize?

Either way, since I have nothing to write about here, I’ll let you know what has been running through my ridiculously unoccupied brain. So here’s what I came up with.

I had a guard shift tonight. The Army’s eternal answer to what a soldier should be doing. Guarding something. What was I guarding? Hell if I know, I wasn’t paying attention, I was reading Time magazine and listening to my iPod. (Seriously, how did you old farts kill time in a war before these things?)

Anyway, so I saw something while I was on this guard shift that kind of threw me for a loop. I looked up in the air because there was a very strange sound coming from about 20 feet above me. So I looked and what did I see? Fucking bats. Hundreds of them. Flying this way and that, dive bombing all over the place and basically turning the night sky into a symphony of motion that I don’t think I have ever seen before.

I took to throwing little stones up in the air and watching how these creatures reacted to them. Each time I launched a pebble up into bat country, they would swoop and dive at it. Apparently, little rocks look like lunch to a bat.

What do these bats have to do with anything? Nothing really, but they got me thinking. Oh, boy here he goes thinking again.

What was I thinking about? Wanderlust. Concurrently, my best and my worst trait. Its one of the things that drove me to join the Army. That and a lack of anything better to do. And it is definitely part of what drove me to volunteer for this big bag o’ suck.

Its my best trait because it has got me out of the house. Got me to get the hell out of my comfort zone and go and see the rest of the world. Ripped me out of destructive times in my past. And given me a much richer and fuller life.

Conversely, it has torn me away from my family for years at a time. Showed me some of the worst places on earth. Thrown me into even more destructive times in my past. And has even gone so far as to almost end my life on several different occasions. (Not all of them in Afghanistan.)

Where in the hell did that come from? Came from the fact that I can’t think of ever having seen a few hundred bats doing what bats do, 20 feet from my head at home.

That’s why I wonder about some people. I don’t think ill of them, I just wonder how one can live a life that is spent close to home. I know guys back home that were born, grew up and live, all within a 20 square mile radius.

This, to me, is utterly depressing. I mean a few trips to the Dells and maybe one or two to Las Vegas is enough for them. Don’t get me wrong, I love Las Vegas, but it certainly isn’t Vladivostok, Russia!

So I sat there staring at the these bats flying around, and I started to think of all the things I have seen and done in my life that most people never get to do.

And I was thankful. To whatever God may be...

Then that line from a book, that became the title of this post floated through my head. “We can’t stop here.” Being the most important part.

Not dead yet. Still got places I haven’t seen yet, and this my well traveled friends, is not acceptable.

Not dead yet. Still got shit to do.

Not dead yet. Still got things to accomplish.

Maybe that will be the best thing that came out of this deployment. Maybe this is just what I needed to remind me of what life was, and can be. You see I lost that wanderlust for a few years. I got out of the Army and I came home, went to college and got a job. Well, those things do not lend themselves to moving around.

Then again, maybe I’m nuts. Which is probable.

But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not dead yet...and we sure as shit can’t stop here!


I love you Mom...


  1. I think it was a soccer player who accidentally entered a baseball stadium instead of his soccer stadium.

  2. You probably are nuts, but that's why we like ya.

  3. I have a 14 year old son who is ADHD and has anxiety disorder and you are no more nuts than he is. ;) Be safe.

  4. We have a bat that patrols our street at dusk here in Texas. And I have been to Carlsbad where they have a whole cave of them. And I have heard that around Austin the bats love to live under the bridges. Good bug eaters.

    Do they have lots of bugs in Afghanistan?

    Thank you for writing. I hope it helps you stay sane. If some general or wise person could visit with you while you pull guard duty, who would it be? General Petraus? And if they'd listen, what would you tell them?

    I am sure you have had long talks or prepared sermons and I hope when you get back home, you will find ears to hear. We need to learn about what is going on over there.

    The news from Iran is getting some attention now, and the threat from north Korea. Whatall are you hearing?

  5. The author's name is Hunter S. Thompson and you are no doubt referring to his book titled, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".
    As for bats, rats and other objects which stimulate strange thoughts...keep pondering, keep writing, keep living!
    Both my sons, enlisted for the same reason...they needed to get the hell out of Poolesville, out of the way of the safety net, go do something bigger and bolder! Like you, they have and will see and do things...many of us cannot dream up. The military offers all this, at a price!
    Excellent post!

  6. My husband and I went on a trip to Aruba and found this cave that said "Tunnel of Love". No one was around except for a stray, skinny dog. Then up comes some crazy, crack head and he tells us, "Yes, I take you in to cave". Being that it was called "Tunnel of Love", I thought why not? OH SO WRONG!!! The freakin' thing was filled with bats!!!!! Bat shit in my hair!!! No more tunnel of loves for me! NO WAY