Competitive rE-LAXation

You know it’s just one of those things.  A series of events you couldn’t plan or predict to produce a long forgotten memory.  Reflecting about the Marine Corps birthday coming up this weekend, my morning dry-fire practice (with a laserlyte pistol, haven’t owned an actual firearm for almost 20yrs), and a topic that appeared on a TV show this morning.

A long time ago, in another life of mine, I was a marksmanship instructor and competitive shooter in the Marine Corps.  I was extremely fortunate to find something I was so good at and also helped foster my Zen state of mind to this day.  It didn’t start off that way though.  I worked in a warehouse, supply clerk (MOS 3051), but after my first time going to the rifle range to qualify, I shot the range high that day out of 300 other Marines qualifying.  My battalion Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU) was attempting to put together an intramural shooting team and I made the top of the list.  After intramurals came the Eastern Division matches (both of which at Stone Bay Rifle Range).  The best of the best in the Marine Corps would be shooting at this event and many teams practiced all year round for it.  We, in 2d Supply Battalion, 2d FSSG, did not haha. 

So, we had our four Marine team, which comprised of an officer, our “team captain”, and three enlisted.  Our team captain was actually a butter bar 2d lieutenant (LT).  We got along really great as a team.  Shooting was a different matter.  In way over our heads but making the most of it and……practical jokes.  I really wasn’t one to joke around too much.  I was pretty stoic back then, but still had somewhat of a playful side.  Spectating the shenanigans and trying to stay out of the line of fire, so to speak, was the name of my game.  I remember the main gag our LT would pull was to spray Sight Black on the buttstock of our rifles.  We used Sight Black to spray on our front and rear sights to reduce glare and provide a more dull finish.  Virtually unnoticeable on the buttstock unless you test it out.  So, our LT got the other two members of the team with some whoops and hollers afterward.  Imagine coming off the firing line and your cheek is all black.  He never got me as I never gave him a chance.  My rifle never left my side.  Our first week at the matches was all practice and on that last training day as we were heading to the parking lot, the LT got word he had a Team Captain’s meeting to attend.  We parted ways and arrived at the parking lot.  My other two compatriots had something brewing though that I didn’t know they were planning on doing until they went ahead and did it.  They sprayed Sight Black over every single window of the LT’s car.  I was shocked and was like, “Guys, I want nothing to do with this…”.  It seemed a bit too much!  I mean the LT was cool but this almost seemed like vandalism!

The weekend passed and Monday morning, our first day of actual competition arrived.  The LT was waiting for us in the parking lot and we all walked to the armory to draw weapons.  Not one single word said about this past Friday.  We were to split up between morning shooters and afternoon.  Two of us would shoot first while the others were down in the pits (where the targets are).  Before myself and one of my other teammates headed down to the pits, the LT offered us some brownies that his mom had sent to him in a care package that weekend.  I was STARVED and ate four of them.  I remember it was a bit chalky but I really didn’t mind.  One of the other guys just had a small bite of one but that was it (I believe I ate the rest of his as well haha).  Down in the pits later that morning my stomach started grumbling, churning.  We are supposed to be watching our target and pull it down when we see/hear an impact and put a little white or black circle where they hit and then roll it back up so they can take score but………….!!!  I had to make a run to the little bathroom they had in the pits during live fire!  It was crazy!  And when I got in there…NO TOILET PAPER!!!  Newspaper!  I spent the rest of that morning running back and forth, the butt of the LT’s “Payback” practical joke for spraying the black paint all over his windows.  And I didn’t have anything to do with it!!!  Oh man.  He felt so bad when he found out that I had nothing to do with it and purchased our team sweatshirt for me.

It was funny though.  Ex-Lax in brownies.  Brilliant.  He got me really really good.  It was too bad he didn’t get the actual culprits though.  I guess you never really should assume anything until you have actual facts that you can act on.  Fortunately, the Sight Black sprayed on his car came off very easily.  Just a pain in the butt for him to get off.  Which is exactly what he was looking to do to us.  Pain in the butt.

Take a look back in the past at a time that perhaps you were the target of a joke maybe gone too far, but now you can look back and just Smile.  I mean, what the heck.  Why not?   

But for me, in the long run, I was pulled out of the warehouse to work at the battalion in our MTU as a rifle and pistol coach.  A little further on the journey and I ended up at Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company in Chesapeake, VA as a combat marksmanship instructor with the pistol and shotgun.  I never wanted to leave, BUT, eh, Life, what can you do, right?

Take Care Friends!

Canyon Lake Retreat – Captain Incoming Message and So Long (the conclusion)

The humor I mentioned much earlier…Well…It’s funny.  A year ago, in May (2013 as this retreat was in 2014), I was on the early morning run, somewhere between 0430-0500, running down Flower Mound Rd in Lawton, OK when all of the sudden the Voice in my head said, “STOP.”  I did.  “Turn around.”  I did.  “Look up.” I did and saw the vastness of space, and the stars and…what the…?  A star flashed brightly.  Perplexed I started to turn around, but I looked again, FLASH <again!>.  Incredible.  I was astonished but felt good, safe.  I was about to start running but had this thought.  I have some kind of star map app on my phone.  Held it up and gave the star that flashed a name.  Alderamin.  Never heard of it.  Anyway, this all doesn’t sound all that funny but a couple weeks later, about the same time of the morning, different road, the Voice said, “STOP, look up…”  I’m like, OK?  I see stars!  That’s it?  When all of the sudden over my headphones I hear, “CAPTAIN, INCOMING MESSAGE!” (Mr. Worf from Star Trek, incoming text/email sound byte).  And then what I felt/heard…Laughter.  Like someone was playing a cosmic prank on me!  Funny.  (There is a lot of them but just hitting a couple of the biggies)  A few months later at my friend/soul sister’s apartment just after the whole Beth Episode (maybe some other day) and was walking from her bathroom back to the living room (barefoot), thinking about Beth, a strange quirky smile and this indescribable FEELING and…SPLAT.  Walked right onto Sushi or Snoopy’s dog poo.  Heard the Laughter again.  There IS this playful sense of humor in the Universe which has fun with us all the time and when you are tuned in, you can laugh too 😀

So Long…

There is never goodbye.  Just till the next moment.  My Moment at Canyon Lake is moving into the next moment.  It was Quiet.  It was Fun.  I Am Here to Have Fun.  BUT.  I am also here to Help.  A kind word here and there.  Ernest advice.  An ear to Listen.  A Smile…Infinitely  

Canyon Lake Retreat – The Smile

The “Smile” is something that the Voice suggested that I do not talk about, I haven’t. and don’t plan on it.  Writing about it is something different and apparently…OK.

“I Am a Smile” is one of the many I Am phrases I say each morning.  As a matter of fact, one day I noticed in the mirror, I was (in a resting facial expression) a smile waiting to happen.  I came to the realization that it wasn’t just the physical Me smiling, it was my Soul smiling at the Universe.  And here is the thing the Voice suggested not bringing up in the thousand conversations I have had in the past year…I see the Universe smiling back at me.  Where?  Everywhere.  Clouds.  Smudge marks.  Indecipherable lines on a table converging (as my cosmic eyes have sharpened) into a pleasant countenance.  The list is endless.  Not important.  Maybe the How or Why are.  The Reflection.  The Universe (God) is like a mirror, acknowledging, smiling back.  It was a little strange at first. I quickly became accustomed to it.  Even now in this moment as I write, I look over at my moldavite stone crystal and see a smile as plain as a sunny day.  Beautiful.