Saturday, July 01, 2006

It was 25 years ago today that I went to R-Day

It was 25 years ago today that I went to R-Day.


I am the sort of person for whom anniversaries, seasons, the weather, smells even can engender vivid, vibrant, and sometimes painful memories.

Impending anniversary dates, in particular, are like the moon affecting the tides....

Anniversary dates affect me for days in advance and days after. And I am not always even conscious of them. But, oh, my subconscious sure is! And then, eventually, I will realize that some date – which could mean oh, so many things to oh, so many different people – has been messing with my inner workings. Err, excuse me, I have been allowing it to mess with my inner workings, whether I was conscious of it or not.


Talk about your gray area.

Images flashing across your mind, like a TV set whose cable connection is bad and you keep fiddling with the wire hoping to get a clear picture.

Sometimes you are jolted by a vivid Technicolor moment, seemingly out of the blue.

Other times it’s weak and snowy.

Still others you’re not even sure if it’s a memory or only the memory of a memory because you have thought it or told and retold the story so many times.

Sometimes you think it is dead on, but it is really not. It is wrong, full of mistakes, missing key elements.

But it is the way you remember it, so isn’t that the way it “really happened”?

I tend to think of truth as what happens when people from different vantage points shoot azimuths for an intended destination. (This would be my West Point orienteering training coming back to haunt me). Triangulation is a means for locating a “correct spot.” In shooting azimuths towards a desired/targeted location from different angles, the dot where all of these lines intersect (or the boxed-in area that the intersecting lines create if they all don’t perfectly intersect, which they rarely, if ever, do) reveals itself as the “correct spot.”

Many people might infer that I think this “correct spot” (or area) is the Truth. I do not. Forget the “spot.” It is the whole process of different people shooting azimuths from different angles – it is what happens when people express their ideas and thoughts and feelings from different points of view and then discuss and debate them – that becomes important.

What if someone shoots his azimuth incorrectly? you may ask. What if someone’s compass doesn’t work properly? Or he or she is holding it too near a magnet (something that frequently happens when you are alone in the wilderness)? What if one person is dead on and all the others are off? What if no one is right? Your results will be all skewed.

Yes. And no.

I don’t know that I believe there is such a thing as Absolute Truth. Even if there is, I feel that the human mind is incapable of fully comprehending it.

At best, I think we get little glimpses, occasional snatches of insight. And sometimes, even when we do, we don’t always realize or appreciate it.

It is the process that matters more to me. Although if I were to have taken this approach at West Point, I would have failed the Land Navigation course. And everything else as well.

There, it was the final destination points that mattered the most. The “approved solution,” which usually implied an approved means of getting there.

On homework or a test or a solution sheet, the approved solution is underlined twice with a straight edge, and the abbreviation “ANS.” (for “answer”) appears neatly off to the right.

That said, my memories of R-Day (and just about everything else) might be way off. But they are the way I remember it. And I think that says a lot, too. I would never presume to underline my answer twice and declare “Eureka!”

How I can remember anything from that supercharged lightning zap blur of events on July 1, 1981, is beyond me.

Electric Shock Treatment 101.

How I can translate these memories into a coherent description is another thing altogether....


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