Friday, January 11, 2013

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Haiku  My Heart
January 11, 2013

Haiku My Heart is a weekly meeting of friends, both old and new, that share their haiku along with their thoughts. You can read more and find out how to participate at Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon

Catatonic state

Manufactured happiness

Yes, that describes it

I served in the US Army in the Republic of Vietnam in 1969. That was a long time ago, 44 years, and since then, many people occasionally ask me about having been to war. I remember when I first returned home, someone asked me if I killed anyone. I don’t remember what I answered, but I remember being asked that question and who asked it. I remember being asked that question over and over during the past 44 years. It surfaces once in a while. 
Just a few weeks ago, my Brother-In-Law asked me a general question about the war. I skirted a direct answer to his question, but did tell him that I have written about the experience and that those writings are there for my Grandchildren and their children to have long after I’m gone from putting down footsteps on this earth.

It’s funny, in a way, because I don’t ever remember being asked about being a Dad, watching my children being born or living through the hell of having one of them die. No one has asked me what it felt like to have a heart attack. Nobody crosses the line and asks me how it feels to be a compulsive gambler.

Maybe these subjects are considered personal and people won’t intrude on my space. I guess I see that as a sign of respect and I appreciate that. But I was also a truck driver. I drove all kinds of trucks and drove short and long distances and hauled many different things inside those trucks. I love the line in the song sung by Lowell George of the band Little Feat. The name of that song is “Willin” and the line reads:

“I’ve driven’ ever kinda rig that’s ever been made, Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed”

No one has ever asked me about being a truck driver. Maybe in general terms, but I’ve never heard someone ask, “Hey Spado, did you ever jack knife a big rig?” or “Hey man, you ever see one of those lot lizards?”

How about the CB radio? Late night gotta-make-the-delivery-by-eight-AM marathon drives, truck stop food, sleeping in a truck, cold weather, snowy weather, windy weather, hot weather with air conditioning or with no air conditioning? Being alone, being away from home, what’s the farthest, the shortest, the heaviest, the lightest. Ever pick up a hitch hiker? What did you do before cell phones and the GPS?

I certainly have met my share of unusual, and some very usual, people during the million plus miles I have logged as a truck driver since I worked my first job on a truck at 18 years old moving furniture in the wooden mountains, (4th floor walk-up stairways), of Chicago.

Then again, if you reference This Post I did in September of 2009 about how many jobs I have held over the years, I guess I’ve never been asked about any of these jobs and what it entailed to be a teacher, a cook, a chef, a counselor, a manager, tomato sorter or paper-boy.
I’ve not been asked to describe the joy of hitting a game winning home run at the softball tournament or the thrill of riding my motorcycle at 137 miles per hour. Seems that folks don’t want to learn about something someone else has done or listen to how it feels, like a news reporter would ask after the final seconds of the championship game have ticked off the clock and the star of the team narrates his game winning comeback drive for a touchdown.

I dug out the writing I did about the war and I’m going to put it on a flash drive and bring it down to the print shop. I’m going to make hard copies of the 29 page manuscript and send it to my Brother-In-law and answer his question about the war. He seems to genuinely want to know something about what I’ve been through as a nineteen year old being drafted and called to war. Maybe by reading it he’ll understand a bit more about my quirkiness. He’ll for sure get a better sense than he would if he just read today’s Haiku



Marit said...

I came down from the top floor (re-arranging my son's old room to be a studio for me, now he's moved out) to check email and comments... and of course to visit my fellow-hair-splitter ;) Your haiku comes straight in... wow! I wish I would have the time (and lived nearby) so you could tell me all about your jobs.. I know a bit about truck driving (my bro was a truckdriver both in Europe as in Canada/US) but would love to hear about tomato picking and what is a paper boy? Hmmmm, no time for that if I want to finish cleaning/decorating my studio this weekend. Have a good weekend too dear friend!

Mel said...

You hit the winning homerun in a softball tournament?! Oh, that had to be cool.

It's odd, what people feel like they have 'permission' to ask. And it's odd what they believe they 'know' based on their own experiences/observations/assumptions. I'd like to think the questions don't get asked of those things you questioned because we (human beings) have a point of reference and we draw assumptions that we 'know' what that one feels like. I, on the other hand, have NO clue what doing over the road driving would 'feel' like, though I do draw some assumptions/conclusions based on my own experience of what it 'feels' like to get in a car and just GO. Does that give me knowledge of the life of a trucker that loves the open road? Maybe bits and pieces--but no....I don't and cannot know.

Manufactured happiness....I think we all take turns at that one, given that we don't get to stop circumstances from happening in our lives. I can't say it's my favorite state--agitates me, truth be told. But that's just my experience with my perception of what that means.

I know I can experience joy in that state--but it's fleeting and doesn't wrap itself around my heart and my whole 'being'. I don't know what that's like or how it wears for you. I do know it's taxing and hard work to keep my head above water when that's the state I'm in.

I think I'm a shining example of someone who assumes they 'know' based on my own experiences. I also think that's a very human quality--it becomes about MEMEME instead of the other person and REALLY discovering them as the loving person they truly are.

And I think that's what compells me to tell my story instead of simply saying "I know how you feel". Cuz I don't....and cannot. Not truly. And in telling my story, it's my hope that the other person (you...whoever....) will tell me theirs.
It's how I discover kindred spirits--like you.

(((((((( Spadoman ))))))))

*laughing* Have I ever mentioned I write novels in comments.

And YES....publish all 29 pages--AND this web log post!

somepinkflowers said...

"Hey Spado, did you ever
write a haiku
that made folks
there is not enough Time
in one Single Lifetime
to hear
All the Important Stories??"

yes you did
yes you did

somepinkflowers said...

{{ oh oh
loving that you will teach Marit
about the meaning of being
a paper boy ...

i remember having
a paper boy
a milkman,
do you ?? }}

Jean said...

Most of us have driven a car, cooked meals, served them, delivered papers or gone door to door selling something and most have had to teach somebody something and move furniture. It isn't hard to imagine what many experiences might feel like. Causing the death of another person is so taboo that most of us can not fathom it. Many have never even had to kill an animal hunting or caught a fish for dinner. The worst we've managed is squashing a bug. We are horrified and fascinated and thrilled at the thought of knowing someone who has done the deed not thinking for one second that the memory might be beyond painful and difficult to talk flippantly about even though the killing is government sanctioned. I beg forgiveness for every curious soul. I know I asked my father this question when I was a kid and he was unable to give an answer. It seems that being ordered to do what we innately know is wrong does not relieve us of the anguish of guilt.

carol l mckenna said...

Very enlightened haiku and you are one 'enlightened man' ~ live well today ~ you have earned it.

A Creative Harbor) aka ArtMuseDog and Carol ^_^

Kim Mailhot said...

I so love some pink flowers comment. She rocks my socks off often!
Who you are and what you share about how you have arrived in this moment in time is a gift to the world, just as you give it. Thank you for those gifts.

Wishing you peace and love, Man.

Jennifer Wagner said...

ooh I felt this one. Thank you very much for your service to our country.

Stephanie said...

What I adore about you is how you so freely share your stories...I have enjoyed learning about your love of backwater exploration among many others that make you who you are.

War is such a difficult place to understand, to wrap our collective heads around. I just read a remarkable book called Yellow Birds, not sure if it has come across your radar.

happy to 'know' as much as I do about you...


foxysue said...

Dear Joe, I'm stumped for words here, really I don't know what to say, so I'm just going to breathe deeeeeeeep to calm my mind and hopefully you will understand!

Peace Ms Foxy x

Meri said...

Let's sit and talk. I've got time.

Nonnie said...

I've never ever asked anyone a question like your brother-in-law asked you. I had 3 uncles who served during WWII; some how I learned that the war was never brought up nor any veteran's experiences in family gatherings. Perhaps these uncles talked with each other when they were with each other. I have no idea. I had another uncle serve during the Korean War (police action); I wrote letters to him, but never ever mentioned about the war itself. In our family, no one said "We do not talk of such things." but the message was there.
I feel that the same people who would ask also think that a pregnant woman's belly is open for anyone to touch. I've gone astray a bit, but it is odd the things people assume.
about the paper delivery- so funny that what we remember is not in every body's experience!
I thank you for having served, especially in a war that was so controversial, even today, I imagine.

Spadoman said...

I totally appreciate all thoughts and comments about this posting today.
I guess I couldn't just write facts and get to the point by myself. I didn't plan it this way, but you've made my point for me.
You have shown that all people have their own perspective about everything.
I guess I could easily sum up the idea that I have carried my burden with me for many years and now it is time to talk, a little. So I will "say" what I need to say, answer some of the questions I have been asked, in a writing I did years ago.
Thank you all so very much for stopping byb here at the Round Circle.


WabiSabi said...

I found this post very moving on many levels. Going into battle, especially one as controversial as the Vietnam conflict, is a profoundly personal and likely, disturbing experience. It sounds to me like you have had an astounding life, Spadoman. I, for one, would love to read your stories....whichever ones you choose to tell!

Lea said...

There is so much to you dear Mr. Spadoman, so much. I never tire of your stories or the facets of you that surface in the weeks and months of coming together here in our circle of haiku and more... It is amazing to me what people will ask when we are involved in something that isn't the norm, since the death of my husband people have asked me questions that you would NEVER ask someone... we must open some door to that aspect of being human, touching what is taboo, or feared. I am so grateful for all that you share here in your round circle. Peace and love to you my friend...

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I seem to be having nothing but trouble with your blog, dear Spadoman, and it's causing me to become somewhat catatonic! First, I couldn't access your place through the link at Haiku My Heart. Second, my last comment was rejected by Blogger. We'll see if I succeed this time!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I had to do a Google search to get here!

Fallingladies said...

Glad i stopped by, i have missed all my favorite blogs... The thing about what you brought up is knowing when to ask and when not to, such a hard thing... Because i find myself, in the times when something extremely personal comes up, sometimes annoyed by questions and other times wishing someone would ask so i can just talk.... Makes it hard for people to know the right thing to do when i don't always know myself...I am glad you feel like talking again!

gma said...

I love Kim's haiku today... What you focus on expands. I do not blame you for not wanting to focus on war and applaud for your focus on PEACE.

rebecca said...

it is saturday evening and i am just getting round all my haiku hearts. i actually love arriving "late to the party" to take the time to read every single comment. you have a profound way of stirring hearts, causing others to pause thoughtfully and always all ways encouraging peace.

i love you.

Fran said...

I think of Smedley Butler a Quaker & highly decorated vet. He said War is a racket.
He also went on to say during wartime, politicians should only make the same wage as the lowest military officer, and that only those who would actually go to war, would make the decision if they would go to war.
War is hell, and I can only imagine what being 19 in Vietnam was like. You are still somewhat *a kid* @ that age, and that was on the ground jungle battle. You can't witness that & have it change you & your views for the rest of your life.
So many Vets become peace advocates, because they know firsthand war is not the solution.

I love the story of a soldier who was doing mechanic work in Germany for the military & they decided to make him a foot soldier in Iraq.
When they went to issue him a gun, he replied Sir No Sir!
It took them a few years & some jail time, but he did eventually get conscientious objector status.

I have to admit though, that when a friends new housemate was introduced, I asked what he does & he said he is a disabled Veteran.
He does not look disabled, and I went quiet.
If he wanted to talk about it he would & otherwise it was not my place to ask for details.

I'm glad you wrote about the experience. No doubt the grandkids will want to know more about it later.

I'm guessing you also wrote a summary about why you advocate for peace as a result.

Priti Lisa said...

You blow me away Joe.
I always feel people will tell me what they want me to hear,
but now I realize they maybe are waiting to be asked.

Doncha wish it were summer
and the was a big tree
and some chairs were under the tree
and I could ask
and you could tell.