Pyramid, Jungle, Lost City

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Steven’s Camp, Nevada, Lost City of a Kind

I just got off the phone with my friend Dave.  I’ve mentioned Dave before; he’s a screenwriter, a warrior, a world traveler, and a gigantic intellect.  Dave explained to me that a few years ago his son, Stryker, was gifted a 22 minute video of Dora the Explorer.  In this program Dora was teaching children how to stack together clues to pinpoint some location on earth.  She kept repeating the mantra:  Pyramid, Jungle, Lost City.  And now Dave has come full circle, no longer a father pressing play on an educational DVD, he is in fact obsessed with Pyramids, Jungles, and Lost Cities himself, and has spent a great deal of time traveling to them, pressing pushpins into the map, making notes in the margins of his journal, abandoning cabs in various deserts, riding elephants into cocktail receptions, and warmly brushing the wanderlust that fills his heart and mind.  Next month he is off to Thailand, again:  jungles and lost cities.  “I send my wife text messages,” he tells me, “just a picture of an old Buddha wrapped in vines.  And she totally gets it.”

I get it too.  That same wanderlust has driven me for as long as I can remember, resulting in the strange Zelig-esque, Soda Pop Kid nature of my existence.  Turns in academia and the teaching arts, the outback, the military, the outback again, and various stops as a night-auditor for Motel 6, a concrete grinder, a heavy-equipment operator, a librarian’s assistant, the outback yet again, a lawman, and finally a writer, have done little to diminish my enthusiasm for fresh forays into the ephemeral promise of Pyramids, Jungles, and Lost Cities.  What a great country we live in, where I can even indulge the notion of life as an epic adventure.

Then again, it’s probably just a kind of arrogance.

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A Portrait of the Author as a Young Buckaroo, Duck Flat, Nevada

This wanderlust, as much intellectual as it is physical, is precisely the spirit that fills the pages of Frontier Partisans, a living document I consider brilliant on many levels, and whose pages I now read religiously.  I recommend you do the same, as what is happening in those pages speaks to our desire to explore the unknown, to examine what we have found, and to press further into the tangled vines of both our history, and our present.

Still, I can admit to some levels of embarrassment.  The truth is, I have done everything backwards.  I went to college and chose to enlist in the Marines.  That’s a strange development by any measure, but I was obsessed with the precisely romantic notion of serving as a squad leader of Marines–and that’s really all that I wanted to do.  Lucky me.

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The author, reincarnated, relaxing in the bush…

I have largely ignored most of the advice I’ve ever received.  Except when it comes to reading books, and those suggestions I take extremely seriously.  Paulina Springs Bookstore, our local nook, knows me by name and will accommodate any method of payment.  Wampum or Greenbacks, they know I’m good for it.

I’ve enjoyed any number of magnificent, occasionally spectacular, failures on my expeditions–which is what I have chosen to label my false starts and misadventures–and I am drawn to believe that each one of them has been critical to filling out the empty sketch of exactly who it is that I think I am.  Of course, that’s true of all of us.  Still, I’m leery, to an extreme degree, of eating the entire elephant no matter what the pursuit might be.  It just isn’t me.  For better or for worse, I’ve spent a lifetime nibbling around the edges, stealing an occasional big bite, but always keeping a watchful eye on the hyenas who bury themselves in the carcass.  Perhaps that makes me some kind of revolting carrion bird, I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I like the notion that I can come to the ball wearing any costume I want, and lend some credibility to the disguise.  That’s T.S. Eliot, and Prufrock:  to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.

It’s far too easy for a daydreamer–and that’s decidedly me–to get lost in romanticism, and I frequently do, particularly as a writer.  I suppose the trick is to seek a balance between what we want, what we need, what we can do, and how we are prepared to meet the challenges along the way.  In the end, I want to think of my life as a daily tromp toward the discovery of some lost city in the jungle, full of wrong turns, but still a deliberate and exhausting hack with machetes through the triple canopy, and against the odds, always driving toward discovery.  And if that’s the case, then maybe someday this work will matter, to someone, if I’m able to send even a single picture back, to those who care, of some priceless relic wrapped in vines.

  1. I like your life map.

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    1. Well, I don’t recommend it entirely, but I thank you all the same. My readings in Once An Eagle have actually confirmed for me, in no small measure, that I haven’t entirely screwed up. 🙂

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  2. John Horsefeathers February 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Well put and great insite into your thinking and the path that has taken you there. What a waist of we stop seeking the new and unknown.

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    1. Right? Never stop. One of the things I’ve always admired about you was your willingness to take risks, even when everybody said “It can’t be done,” or more specifically, “It shouldn’t be done.” You have informed my life, Johnny Horsefeathers, and you know it.

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      1. John Horsefeathers February 11, 2016 at 7:47 am

        Thank you for the kind words my friend. I too learned for you and your ways. As said before you are a great warrior and one of the finest to wear the badge and kick a door. I miss the days in the narc office being a fly on the wall listening to you and Hendo discuss a case or life in general in the funny and intellectual ways you two did.

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      2. Back at you. At poor Hendo, now stuck trying to recruit underachievers and the wildly unqualified for a job nobody wants to do anymore…

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      3. John Horsefeathers February 11, 2016 at 9:35 am

        I hope i am not being panglossian in my hope that if anyone can cut through the herd and find some worthy it is Hendo.

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      4. You’ve been sitting on that word, just waiting. I can remember hearing you use it once or twice in a smelly narc office. I will now be grinning the rest of the day.

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    2. John Horsefeathers February 11, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Ugh! You caught me in my laying in wait, the skills are still strong with you Craig. But I had too. As Helen Keller said, “avoiding danger is no safer in the long run as outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold”. I have been waiting to inject that as well.

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  3. Well, that was a mighty nice thing to come out of the woods to this afternoon. Thank you for that. I’ve got a reasonably sharp machete and I’m honored to have the opportunity to share a bit of hacking toward whatever Great Zimbabwe lies ahead.

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    1. The truth is always easy.

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  4. But are you a daydreamer or a Dreamer of the Day?

    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

    T. E. Lawrence

    I have my suspicions…

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    1. Oh my. I think you know the answer. I think we must certainly dream by day, and all day, and if that makes us dangerous, then so be it. Various themes have developed, in this lifetime, that lead me to believe that I dream by day, and therefore to seek comfort and solace in the like-minded, to serve where needed, and to act alone where required. If I could live up to the epitaph written for Deets, in Lonesome Dove, which truly belongs to a real man named Bose Ikard: “Served with me four years on the Goodnight-Loving Trail, never shirked a duty or disobeyed an order, rode with me in many stampedes, participated in three engagements with Comanches. Splendid behavior.” That, friend, may be the best thing anyone could say for us.

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    2. John Horsefeathers February 11, 2016 at 7:41 am

      The 7 pillars should be required reading for high school kids. But no they must read literature filled with PC agenda and rife with messages that want to tear down our great nation.

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      1. My required reading list keeps growing, and it starts with all of the banned books. I read all of those. If it gets banned somewhere, or the author has an active fatwa against him, I’m immediately in.

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  5. adventuresfantastic February 10, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    I agree with Mr. Horsefeathers. Well said.

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    1. Mr. Horsefeathers, who will likely not identify himself, is a hero of the American cultural wars. He has done fine service, and there are many of us who admire his career, his wisdom, and his judiciousness, in the true fight against those things that ail us. He set many of us straight, gave others room, and was admired by many more. He is a remarkable man in all respects, and that is the God’s honest truth. Thanks, Keith.

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  6. “I’ve enjoyed any number of magnificent, occasionally spectacular, failures on my expeditions–which is what I have chosen to label my false starts and misadventures–and I am drawn to believe that each one of them has been critical to filling out the empty sketch of exactly who it is that I think I am.”
    I can’t stress enough how important I think this is and what I’m trying (and failing) to impart on my children. Keep trying, learning and living, Pard.

    I’ve actually been ruminating on this lately, in an oblique manner, and just picked up this book (http://www.sciencefriday.com/segments/why-science-needs-failure-to-succeed/) on why failure is essential in science. I’ll send it on if it’s good.

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    1. Keep me posted on that book, if it’s good I’ll grab it. “Keep trying, learning and living…” At some point, I predict, they will appreciate the message–it ages extremely well.

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    2. John Horsefeathers February 11, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Failure and false starts are good for the soul. How else can we correct a wrong path taken or decision made. As long as we come out of it with minimal mental or physical damage we are a better person. How lucky are you and Craig to dare the darkness as opposed to those who seek comfort and safety in the known realm. As the great Lombardi said, “it’s not weather you get knocked on your ass, it’s weather you get up”.

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      1. adventuresfantastic February 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm

        Someone (Edison, I think) said if you want to increase your rate of learning, increase your rate of failure. And you can’t fail if you don’t try. (Yes, not trying can in itself be a form of failure, but it’s a different type of failure).

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      2. Exactly right. I have attended a few Magpul Dynamics courses, taught by Travis Haley, where we exploited that same notion with firearms. Each course is progressively more difficult, increasing failure rates, and pushing the envelope. good stuff…applicable across the board.

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  7. When did you serve in the Corps? Semper Fi!

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    1. 96-00. I was with 1/1. Best people I’ve ever seen. Some of them are still in, doing the Lord’s work.

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    1. I’m in. They better not screw this up.

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  8. The moment one douses the embers of desire with the waters of reality in their quest for the lost city…is that moment when something dies within the soul of a man. Trading a dream for fear of failure is a poor exchange.

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Jack Donovan

Masculinity and Tribalism

Adventures Fantastic

Reviews, Views, & Occasional News

Bunkhouse Chronicle

Field notes from the Figure 8 Ranch

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Frontier Partisans

Field notes from the Figure 8 Ranch

WARFIGHTER

"Strength Through Honor"

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