It is always odd watching older men gather, talk about their lives, about how much they no longer remember, of last year, and a decade ago, about the infinite details they can clearly recall about the time they spent in the Army, Navy, Air Force, the smell of Slop-on-a-shingle, of field stripped butts in a small container in their olive drabs, of the base or post exchange where you could buy the mandatory Ray-Ban aviators, the Sergeant’s grimace, the body count in the war they never wanted, only wanted to end quickly, how they were once brothers in arms, now just old men sharing painful memories.
He has just returned from the land of Others, where he expected to see all manner of things that would, could never happened to him. He thought he would be able to explain why this was, but now those things are happening to him. He suspects it is because he came to close to the land of Those People, and he is certain are the cause of all the trouble in his carefully constructed world. It is why, he says, he never wanted anything to do with them.
On this night the moon retreats from the sky, leaving the stars to play hide and seek behind broken clouds. The silence is enfolding, save for the whistle of a distant train traversing the city, and the whisper of the wind caressing the needles of the pine who answer wih a passionate moan.
The entirety of this practice is to learn to walk with a lightness, so that you contact the earth, the grass, not tread on it, so that the earth and the grass caress your feet and not try to push them away, and all the while there must be a gentleness of breath so the sky can fill your lungs lightening you.
We often believe that the best way to honor the dead is to praise them. When my time is gone, do not praise me for your praise will fall on deadened ears. If you believe in the power of the word speak aloud in my name, if you dare, commit the deed as you believe I might have done, if you can, lift up someone else even though my arms may have been too weak for the task in my own day. As I am leaving you a world, you will soon enough leave one as well, and if that world is better than mine for the sake of your efforts that is all the honor I could hope to imagine.