The wars of others douse gasoline on the fire hardly controllable. The urge to fight shared in the neurotic texts and conversations with the others. We could go. We could pack up today. Leave behind the guilty comforts of home for a life of filth, dirt floors, and destruction–to live life out of the bag on our backs. The search for a contract or payment is only the weakest of excuses to explain to those who do not understand. This is a pursuit that needs nothing other than what it inherently brings. Money is only an excuse to avoid explaining what we cannot.
The wars of others enhance the guilt and devotion each and every breath brings because those sacrificed cannot. The comforts of this world weigh much heavier than usual. The desire for pain and suffering becomes overwhelming. The coldest rain and the hottest sun bring the greatest joy. The hardest workout kills the body to fuel the soul. The foot is heavier, and the speedometer faster. Anything and everything to connect with that which war once brought. Anything and everything to feed it, just enough to quell it, if only enough to keep you home. To keep you grounded in the world you sought instead of war.
The wars of others bring the neurotic pursuit of adrenaline. The pursuit of the feeling of the first high like a heroin addict chases the dragon. It brings restlessness. It brings the guilt of being alive, the guilt of living, and the guilt of leaving. The bracelets are heavier than ever. The reminder of what war takes and the devotion to live for them. It brings the guilt for not dying with them, or for them. The paradox of living in dedication to them and the guilt of doing it. The guilt of being your best so you might earn what they gave.
The wars of others bring the deepest of sorrow. They bring late-night restlessness. The memories of all that were lost and all that was sacrificed. The crash comes after the neurotic high. The sorrow of knowing that war would take more than it would give. It would be nothing more than a temporary high with lasting consequences. It would take more friends. It would take more limbs. It would take more of you. It would consume more of you. It would consume what is left of you able and willing to live in the world of peace.
It would consume you and destroy your family. It brings the greatest sorrow knowing you will lie in a bed of comfort while they suffer in ways only the experienced, only you could understand. It brings great sorrow knowing they might one day be where you are. Restless, guilty, happy, neurotic, dedicated… It is knowing they might one day be a memory, a name on a bracelet, or a bouncy ball hurled into a small room, bouncing from wall to wall, each triggering some emotion not fully harnessed.
The wars of others douse gasoline onto the fire that is hardly controlled. It is the fire of it all that burns each and every day. It is the fire you have learned how to quell just enough to live a life of dedication. Quelled just enough to be the best you can. To earn what they gave you. To limit the restlessness. To reduce the guilt. The increase the happiness.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.
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