There are days where pain seeps into your veins like a venom, slowing only to settle in marrow deep pools. There are days where no amount of rest can crack the adamantine circlets of fatigue that seem to bind your frame. There are days where memories of home seem like a cracked and faded picture, leaving just faded impressions shorn of all the subtle shadings that made the moment unique and special. When these days come they bear down on your heart like a steel press.
But there is symmetry to all things under heaven, and for every suffering there is a joy of equal measure. It doesn’t always come instantly, but it always seems to come. On the days where the carrion birds circle your consciousness that knowledge alone can be enough to ward off the darkness and mend the hurt.
Sometimes felicity is writ large, like the cool desert mornings where the sun stains the horizon with sublime banners of crimson and gold. There are other times where satisfaction flows from being in the company of so many tough and determined soldiers. At other times joy comes from little more then seeing my name scrawled on a care package, the familiar words as intoxicating as the finest liquor. But all of these lesser joys pale in comparison to the raw sense of bliss that comes from just being alive another day. Life is something all too easily taken for granted, its brilliance muffled beneath an avalanche of the unimportant and unnecessary dramas of being. But out here you see firsthand just how tenuous the thread of life can be, and that awareness makes every pulse of your heart something strange and miraculous.
When this mission comes to a close I’ll carry back memories as sharp as razors, and there will be times when they continue to cut. There is no use bemoaning that reality, it simply is. I’m alright with that, if nothing else those memories will focus my attention on what has real value in this world. It isn’t anything as empty as money, or as base as fame. It’s the simple things that brought me joy even here in the middle of combat. My loving wife. My family. The company of good friends. Nature in all her incarnations. After all this I don’t think I’ll ever take any of them for granted.