Chief Wiggles -- Straight from Iraq
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The online journal of Chief Wiggles.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Monday, May 12, 2003

Well the start of another week. Today I decided to get off work a little early so I went in at 0900 and worked until 9 pm, putting in my12 hours, so that I could get off in time to watch a DVD in the tent with some other guys. We watched Ocean's 11 for the third time. We have a few movies but not that many and we don't have a lot of time to watch them anyway. It is hard to do anything in the tent when it is so hot like it is. All I can hear right now is the sound of fans blowing around the tent.

Today was exceptionally busy. We are getting more and more information each day and bit-by-bit everything is going to be coming out. I can't say what it is, but the stuff is really going to hit the fan when this is all made public.

Yesterday was an exceptionally difficult day for me, in that it was Mother's day. I had cause to reflect on my mother and the fact that she has passed on, moving on to the next stage of her existence, leaving the rest of us here to deal with life. I miss her dearly. She was a great woman and had a huge impact on my life in so many ways.

At church they had a special program about mothers, which was quite moving and brought me to tears several times. At least I had to work most of the day, which kept me busy, so that I wouldn't have the whole day to reflect on what life is going to be like with out her. Several guys came up to me, understanding how difficult it might be for me, to console me and express their feelings and to give me some comfort. Several guys were so thoughtful to remark that I had been in their prayers and in their thoughts on that day. I was touched that so many could be so caring and concerned. How wonderful.

I believe I mentioned that I made a huge pot of Curry Rice, which was a big hit. So many guys were able to partake and share in the tasty treat. I was so pleased to see them enjoying the food and listening to their remarks about how special and tasty it was. I probably fed all in all about 15 people, more than I expected.

I had reason to reflect and contemplate on a number of issues in life. When the weather permits, like when it isn't blowing too hard and there isn't too much dust or sand in the air, and when it cools down a bit, then one can take the time to meditate, which seems to be good therapy here. People all seem to react to this situation differently and you begin to see each other's flaws and imperfections, that are expected in each person but not so clear to see as when the medal of your character is truly tested.

The conditions here wear on people. The weather, the heat, the living conditions, our close quarters, the lack of amenities, the lack of creature comforts, the lack of the things we love about our life at home, it all starts to wear in different ways with people. You begin to see their inner self. We have had some soldiers try to kill themselves, others that talk about it, others that perhaps would like to kill someone else that is getting on their nerves, others that just can't stand it anymore, others that get depressed or frustrated, some that just get really homesick, and so on and so forth.

Living like this is tiring and it does wear on people and takes them to the their individual limits of tolerance. We all have our points. The main thing is to watch each other and be aware of some of the signs when someone starts to go down that road. People will shut down and you just don't know always what everyone is really going through inside. Some people are just really closed and not open to discussing that sort of thing.

We have a few people that we just pay particular attention to, just to make sure that we keep them moving along so that we get them home in one piece mentally too. Things can close in on people and they can get in a deep dark hole.

We just try to be there for each other, no matter what.

Honestly, I haven't had any problems with our living conditions here. The one thing that can get me down a little is when the dust storms blow for several days in a row, making sleeping or breathing difficult. Fortunately that doesn't happen too often. And of course I had my 3-week break, when I went home for a while.

We still have a lot of work to do before our mission here is complete, so I am not sure how long they are going to be keeping us. Things change from day to day, so you just never know when someone will tell you that it is time to go home. We do have some people that have been told that they will be returning soon, but even that could be a couple of months or more. The army moves slowly once things start to wind down.

We still have units arriving and moving further north to take over for others that have been in place for a while. As I have mentioned, some of these soldiers came straight from Afghanistan, where they had been for 9 months or more. Some of them deserve to go home for a while. I am sure they will be rotating people in and out of here for some time.

The difficult part is trying to help this country set up a new government, with a bunch of people that we are just not sure of. We just don't have a lot of experience in this sort of thing. Our intentions are good and we want them to get off on the right foot, but there are so many different groups and factions and so many different interests to consider. Everyone seems to have their own agenda and trying to protect their own interests.

I feel that I am getting over my respiratory infection, which is great; maybe I can start running again, with the people that are running at midnight. I was thinking about cooking up some fried rice today but it was just too hot. It is hard to know when a good time is to cook. First thing in the morning but then I am just not hungry for that first thing in the morning.

On Mothers day we went down to the mess area, where they were serving up some cheesecake that had been flown in the day and a lot of the mothers were bused down to one of the big camps in Kuwait City for the day of rest and relaxation. They do try to do a few things to boost moral.

It is just hard to work everyday all day, like we do, without a day off. My body just needs a day to rejuvenate itself. I would love just to have a day to do nothing or to do what ever I want.

In many of the areas around people have been getting really sick from a variety of things. There have been some really bad stomach bugs going around. Some of the soldiers have been so sick that they have had to take them to Germany for treatment. There are so many flies in some areas that you just can't get away from them. Every area seems to have its own certain thing.

There are a number of us that just stay fluid and go with the flow of things, no matter what it is. We just try to take it all in stride and not get too worried about any of it. Sometimes you just have to embrace what ever it is and just learn to live with it. I have been very fortunate and blessed not to be too affected by most of what is going on around me. I just make do and try to make the best of the situation; there really is nothing else you can do. My sphere of influence here is pretty small, so I just don't get too worked up about much.

I am supposed to move on Wednesday, moving over to another area in Iraq, to deal with the prisoners over in that area. I am hoping that once over there I will be able to get released so I can hook up with my friend in Baghdad, who is staying in one of the presidential palaces, it sounds nice but he has no running water and eats only MRE's.

Sorry if the next few paragraphs get a bit heavy and deep. I have a lot of time to talk and think about life out here. It probably bounces around a bit, in that I am typing just as I think of it. Hope you don't mind. Maybe it has some value for others, or maybe not.
It is good for me.

It is nice to want more out of life and every experience as long as you are not disappointed if you aren't able to achieve more. I hunger for more and want to get the most out of every experience. I am optimistic and realistic at the same time. In other words I don't get my hopes too high, just incase they might be deflated. But, I still have hope that I will be able to fulfill my mission here, what ever that might be.

Each of the people here is looking for that place where each of us can be at peace with our surroundings and our environment. That is so true in life; we are all searching for that place within each of us, where we fell content and at peace or at one with things. I think really that is what we are all searching for. You can call it what you will but that nirvana is something we believe exists on this world and that we can obtain in this life, while living in our mortal existence. We all try to get to it naturally or artificially; others of us try to reach it through serving others or by following our passions. Others of us try to find it through inner reflection or meditation. For some it is fleeting and momentary at best. For others it is permanent and long lasting. I have come to believe that each of us must find our own path to reach such a place and that it is all around us if we can but tap into it.

I believe in comes about through living abundantly, deliberately and athletically, as Henry David Thoreau put it in his book on Walden Pond. . That is what he was searching for. We are all just looking for a peaceful place where we feel true happiness, through love and service and also being loved and served. We all can find that place no matter where we are, no matter what the circumstances or no matter what the situation. I have seen others find it out here and I have felt it out here, where we have nothing but each other.

Many of us toil our whole life looking for it, when it was there all the time if we just could have seen it. We spend so much time each and every day working to achieve it, but all we are doing is going down the wrong path. When are we going to let go of the little things that prevent us from reaching our true goal? When are we going to see the forest instead of the trees? When are we going to smell the roses, and taste the true sweetness of harmony and peace? We are all consume by the day-to-day grind of self-preservation that we forget that we are already living and preserved.

What does it mean to live abundantly? To have plenty? To have enough? To have what we really need to be happy? How much do you have to have before you can share? How much are you willing to give up? Or share? When is our cup full enough? When do we say that we have been greatly blessed? Are there enough blessings to go around? When do we stop comparing and just look at ourselves to answers these questions? We can always find some one with more and someone with less, so when is enough enough? What is it that we are really looking for? Why is it that I can be totally happy in a place like this? Feeling real happiness? Feeling real love and care?

What does it mean to live deliberately? And authentically? When do we show our real self? And why are we holding back? What are we afraid of? When do we really show people what we are like? When do we really do what we have wanted to do our whole life? What path are we really on? When do we allow others to be their true self? Why do we not want them to be themselves? Do we not understand the true joys of abundant happiness when we are truly free and those around us reach their own place of total bliss, in peace and harmony? Why do we restrict those around us from reaching their own nirvana?

I know that this might be pretty heavy, but if you really think about it, it will start to make sense to you. At least it is worth a try and a few minutes of sole searching. One thing that I am working on out here is to purify my motives for doing things. When I do something I try to figure out why I am doing it. I ask myself ?Why did I just do that?? what am I trying to gain from this? Am I looking for others praise? Am I looking to satisfy some vain sense of pride? I think that part of reaching that place of complete and total peace and happiness; one must first be in touch with their motives behind their actions. Why is it that poor people can be happier than a rich person? I am not talking about people that are starving. I do understand that certain basic needs have to be met first, but if we accept those as a given, what is it that we are searching for.

Can we imagine for a moment the abundance of blessings that we might enjoy if we were to just be in harmony with the others around us, especially if they were in their special place of true happiness? How wonderful that would be. But we stop short and we hold back and we try to control others, because of our own fears and insecurities. Think about it.

Sorry that this is so deep and perhaps so meaningless.

posted by Chief Wiggles 12:57 PM
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