Friday, January 27, 2006
Returning to the World....of Color
As you've probably noticed, other than the photographs, the overwhelming majority of new artwork posted here has been black and white graphite drawings. Over the next couple weeks I'll try to rectify that with a series of small watercolors. The piece with this posting shows a patrol of Marines from 3rd Platoon F/2/1 along the south bank of the Euphrates west of Ubaydi, Iraq. The north bank, which many Marines thought was Syria, was barren. Along their line of march stretched miles of fields broken by orchards and windbreaks of delicate poplars. Every kilometer or so there were ancient, but still functioning aquaducts. The pastoral stillness was broken only by the shugging heartbeat of equally decrepit pumps drawing water up from the river and channeling it down well packed earthen troughs out into the thirsty fields.
Today I attended the first of several briefs that are part of the standard issue "returning to the world" readjustment process. The Marines are very aware that the transition from Iraq back to the States, from combat to home and hearth, is one that needs to be handled with the same tactical devotion as a full frontal assault on a fortified position. Today's initial meeting was conducted by a chaplain and dealt primarily with family and post-traumatic stress issues. Like the food in the chow halls over here, the ideas and information were mostly very good and dished up in a tasteful and interesting way. The chaplain, like most I've gotten to know and observe, was adept at seasoning the material with necessary dashes of ribald humor, while at the same time balancing that with hearty warmth and deep-dish seriousness. He peppered his presentation with “can I have an Amen”s and “oorah”s. The thing which most caught my ear was the insistence that we "warriors", whether cook or trigger puller, share our stories with each other as often as possible. Prefaced with a brief synopsis of the tale of Ulysses, the palliative value of storytelling could not, according to the padre, be stressed enough. I realized there and then how blessed I am by my mission as a professional storyteller of sorts. People, including myself, often wonder how is it I can go into combat with the frequency I do and not be a raving nut case. ( I recognize that there are a couple exes, marital and otherwise, who might want to weigh in and have their say at this point.) Today I realized it's in large part because I get to tell my story, and knowing that you good folks are out there listening, to quote Robert Frost, has made all the difference. Thanks.