General Pace was making his final rounds, touring all of the units he had once commanded in his career before his retirement in 2007. I was always a fan of his speeches, because he kept them human, so I determined to sit as close to the front as possible. He had served for 40 years, and remembered every name of each Marine that had lost their life under his command when he was a young lieutenant. The emotion of serving in a hated conflict and carrying the survivor's burdens for all of those years touched the very core of the audience. I never forgot his speeches, and when he left us to serve up at the Pentagon after 9/11, I told everyone, 'He's going to be our next Chairman of the JCS'. Less than 3 years later, he was the first Marine posted to the position.
How this picture came to be, was actually a funny story. General Pace had just finished speaking and held up a coin, his personal one as an incentive to the person that would ask him his first question. I didn't just raise my hand, I jumped out of my seat. I don't do that for every one, but this was a man I had greatly venerated. I approached the General and whispered something in his ear and the audience gasped as I pushed away the microphone. Somehow the salut was lost and instead he pressed his coin into my hand and we broke into smiles.
Admidst the emotion of the moment, I had almost forgotten to ask my question, until I was reminded by the General. My question, was two words, "What's next?" Those words have been like a boomerang for me, as I finally took off my uniform a few months later.
I fell into my writing as if I had a brain fever. I was not able to control myself. I realized I had to go and do this and forsake a life of perceived security. I have been fortunate to meet Jim Haynes, an incredible ex-patriate author who resides in Paris. I have never sat down to read his biography, but I smiled when I felt like I saw my words in his biography. Synchronicity is wonderful when you see it. I idealized what I thought my life supposed to be, when under the surface, I also knew that I was not following my heart. I was following the illusions of the day.
I have to admit, that looking back, had I known some of the struggles I would be going through, I wonder, if I would have had the courage to make the journey, and at times, the courage to continue. I have great respect for all of the writers on this blog. It does take a certain amount of courage to refine your work. This crazy dream was planted within me at a very young age, but it was always to write about life, and not fiction. It is hard to tell people without sounding self-important about the amazing journey that I have been on. Sometimes I embed my work in poetry. A wonderful poetess, Lena Vanelslander, from Ghent Belgium decided to write with me during this past summer. I just simply said, we publish it, and that is all there is to it. No second-guessing, no doubts, and just create. That was the heart of this project that evolved into "Quills of Fire". The official release date is 10 January 2010. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Really, my friends, it is. You sit down, and you write, edit, and just do it because you believe.
One of my favorite pieces, from this anthology was inspired by an artist, a friend of mine who I frequently correspond with over the past few years. It is my pleasure to share it with you. A footnote...to leave you with.
Ode to the Unknown of Art
Oh craftsman, the night is spent
Yet the canvas is still wet
Wet with your blood and sweat
Painted before you
are your nightmares and dreams
Those silent prayers and screams
And still, the insanity of creation goes on...
The wordsmith with tools of the new and old
A quill and an inkwell
A cursor that flashes a dare
Create to create
For is it foolishness to covet to be great?
When all is said and done
Isn’t all of creation condemned to die?
Oh we, who spurn to be immortalized
through our works be it in song, verse...
the prose upon a stage...
The charade that is life in an actor’s gaze.
The fortunate ones...the despised...
Who become a shred of what they were
as fame becomes their guise.
Whether known for a moment, a decade or for centuries...
we all become the unknown of art
to become the dust of another...
Far flung...in the vault of morbid histories...
just to say we bled, we sweat, and cried untold tears.
For the human hand yields the power to destroy or create.
Who will look upon our works in the span of time?
To be remembered and not known...
for art is the measure of a society.
A power to love...to portray,
perhaps display what we would like to see.
However, do not see this as a futility.
For eternity is not how to measure art...
for truly it is all unknown art that is rendered
and what lasts...is only but for a moment.