Changing Step

 

“After much deliberation and with some doubt I post this”

 

Speak to any old soldier and he will tell you the importance of concentration on the drill square. Changing step on the march can find you floundering at the wrath of a red faced drill sergeant if your mind is elsewhere. Getting it together again as quickly as possible is vital for your dignity.

 

My path of spiralling madness and anger has brought me to rest at a place of peace and tranquility. From here I can look back at my twisted approach to this safer ground. I see a man adrift running like a rat in a maze, cart wheeling through streets of a midland town asking strangers for his answer. I hear a thousand empty glasses slam down on a thousand fuel soaked bar-tops, I see the head in hands agony of a drowning man, the fuming anger and the spittle gathering and flying into shocked and surprised faces. The predictable foot fall from bar to bar, the blurring of days and time, the inevitable descent into all consuming isolation.

 

Unlike the voice that screams at you on the drill square and puts you back in place there is only silence here. There are if you’re lucky the soothing words of those who have not yet deserted you, which almost inevitably you will ignore. There are the memories of what you were before all this which wake you in the night, but by the new dawn are forgotten and replaced with the disappointment of still being alive.

 

Then if you survive all this there is the new emptiness you will feel, the realisation of the damage you have done to self and others.

 

Slowly try to wash the rant from your mind, let the fury pass through you and melt away, you will build nothing with your anger. You will not take one step with that heavy load. Smile at it like an old enemy, no longer a threat but passing you by on a busy street. Become something else, something born from an experience that you refuse to waste. Snap back into a pace that you set, rejoin the march but whistle your own tune.

 

After all this you have earned your peace, your path will stretch before you to a new horizon. You will look back upon all that brought you here and not regret one day, because everything endured delivered you to this new peace.  

 

 

© Wolfgar 1/2018

 

◄ An act of kindness

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Comments

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Wolfgar Miere

Sun 28th Jan 2018 16:19

Thanks Kevin,

For your reading, comments and concern. All is well here thanks.

No worries regarding your lost comment on "An act of kindness" it's the thought that counts, I'm always losing stuff in the ether.

All the best,

David.

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kJ Walker

Sun 28th Jan 2018 08:43

Hi David
When I first came across this, I read it, rather that listening to it (with your preamble). To be honest I was concerned for you, not realising that this was an old piece.
I'm so glad that you're not still in the dark place, you were back then.
ps. I did put a comment on about An Act Of Kindness, where I picked up on the "bemedalled clasp" but I seem to have lost it between writing and posting.

Cheers Kevin

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Wolfgar Miere

Thu 25th Jan 2018 10:44

Thanks SS,

it does sit OK with "An act of kindness" I think it was probably that which prompted me to post it.

Not lasting a day in the military probably isn't a bad option, dependent on how you make your exit I suppose.

Thanks again,

David.

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Wolfgar Miere

Wed 24th Jan 2018 15:35

Thanks Ray,

the observations on some of your fellow musicians are interesting.

The military in some places can deny people expression and the permission to think for themselves. In other places it almost encourages alternative thinking, this very much depends on whether you are working in large units or relatively independently without too much support.

There are pockets of military communities which revel in the unorthodox, these are some of the most successful and less known about, and probably they are also the ones which more often impact upon individual soldiers in an adverse manner.

I suspect quite a few people wouldn't even entertain commenting on a subject like this due to preconceived attitudes towards military type people.

I made numerous friends who worked for "Médecins Sans Frontières" when I was working in a small unit in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1999/2000 during rebel incursions into the city, they were horrific times.

MSF had in large part an unfortunate preconceived idea about military units and initially were quite dismissive of us, that attitude changed hugely when the rebels came to town. They soon realized we were not all blood curdling baby killers, but often compassionate understanding human beings who had diverse skills.

A former colleague of mine now works for MSF in an advisory capacity, strange these squaddie types, they're almost human sometimes.

David.

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suki spangles

Tue 23rd Jan 2018 23:02

Hi David,

This prose piece links with your previous poem about the ex-serviceman in the café: the lack of understanding we have of those who experience military life.

A profound meditation, without the b.s. I'm glad this letter was found, and that you shared it with us here. One way us civvies can gain at least some insight into military and post-military life is by reading pieces like this, at least gleaning by listening to those who have returned from their Heart of Darkness. It's a start.

I wouldn't last a day in the military..

SS

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raypool

Tue 23rd Jan 2018 20:05

HI David. I have had some experience of working with ex soldiers who had training in music with the forces resulting in a very useful skill set for later life. I find most of these guys down to earth and quite well balanced ;often of very orderly habits, obviously cultivated during intensive training. Interesting also that they seem to have stories of former postings. Unlike yourself, none of them seem to be of rare imagination , but treat music as an extension of their training, never quite clearing the fences of limits imposed. For my part, I was only briefly and haltingly educated in the art so am aware of the difference .

Sorry to go on, but I thought it might ring bells with you. Your experiences are uniquely yours and the reactions to them which of course are well known, if only by the public by hearsay. It might be relevant to say that inherent character traits and early influences may serve to intensify by training, or indeed by suppression. A good friend of mine was sent doolally and came out of the army early, never afterwards able to hold a job down. Lovely fellow, highly imaginative.

We can only try to empathize, that being halfway house to understanding perhaps, and to read your account is a rare thing of beauty for those us in search of truth.

I thought Graham's comment a wise and concise one; I am glad he appreciates your poetry as he is obviously very discerning in what he reads . I would always find his critiques welcome.

Ray

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Wolfgar Miere

Tue 23rd Jan 2018 13:14

What a great comment Graham, thank you indeed.

It is a hugely relevant observation and one I have given much thought to.

Of course to their great credit I think the majority of former Servicemen and women maintain their self discipline and dignity.

In many ways I feel there is a reaction to leaving a disciplined environment and institution, let us not forget that within service organisations men and women are variously trained to kill, deceive, spy and conduct all manner of behaviors none of which are acceptable within normal society, I say normal not really knowing anymore what that is (but you get my meaning)

Most civilians have very little understanding of a military life, and to be honest why should they have any understanding? that said it is often disappointing to service leavers just how bereft of understanding some can be, I feel this has an impact upon transition from service life into civilian life. As I mention in the piece there is no Sergeant Major or Drill Sergeant to kick their arses into gear on the outside.

You will often hear extremely successful soldiers say that had they not joined up they may well have fallen into criminal behavior or occupied the fringes of society, unfortunately these same individuals may easily fall into those patterns once that discipline is removed when they leave service. What is worse is they are now armed with skills which can make them dangerous and volatile to themselves and others, such circumstances coupled with the possibility of other traumatic implications can render a soul extremely fragile.

I could go on and on, but won't! sorry for the rambling.

On the outside it is far more acceptable for us old soldiers to now admit our demons and as much as there is new help from agencies we tend to help each other far more than ever, knowing that it is OK to have been tainted with a period of madness. Occasionally some people voice resistance to such openness, I cannot understand any movement to suppress truth, or to quiet any person attempting to share experiences for the benefit of others.

Recently my nephew undertook Royal Marine basic training, be in no doubt I furnished him with the truth prior to his engagement, no glossy video's and pamphlets from me.

Again, thank you so much for the comment it is questions such as yours which need to be addressed and confronted in order to change anything or to understand.

As far as appraisal of the piece, that's fine because I myself don't know how to categorize it. Maybe confessional, redemptive?

All the best,

David.

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 23rd Jan 2018 12:53

David, whilst recognising that this is a significant piece of work for you, I don't immediately know how to appraise it.

I don't wish to be contentious as the subject matter is too important but my main feeling is this

It always concerns me how soldiers/armed forces personnel etc, who are disciplined to within an inch of their lives during their training and during combat etc, do not in many instance maintain that level of discipline when they are no longer in that role.

Plainly the psychological impacts are great.

Again this comments are not for argument just observation on your work which is as usual very profound.

Well done!

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