Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon
Wednesday gratefuls: Slowed down workout. Leg less cramped. Meal last night all gone. Murdoch’s reaction to the lockdown. The last episode of the Last Dance. Torpor. Slack. Closed gates at JBPHH. Real world security incident. Seoah’s studying for her citizenship test.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: Michael Jordan going in for a layup, in the air, switching the ball from one hand to the other. Dunks! The dog who runs the sweet potato stand in Japan.
Real world security incident at Pearl Harbor, Joe wrote. Stay inside. Oh. Another lockdown, eh? Murdoch lay on the couch, head draped over his right paw. He did not change in his posture. Possible bomb on board a ship? Not enough to change his nap.
Base security closed all gates, mandated shelter in place. Couple of hours later. Resolved. No word yet on details. To add a bit of weirdness Pearl Harbor, the Navy Base, had begun a counter-terrorism exercise. As I headed back from my cardio, I heard loudspeakers from the Navy side say, “Exercise, Exercise, Exercise.” at about 7:15 am. The lockdown started at 10:30 am. Didn’t hear if the exercise continued.
When we first got word from Joe, I had a shiver go down my spine. Would the next sound be Japanese Zeroes strafing Onizuka Village? Irrational? Oh, yeah. Didn’t stop me from inserting WWII into 2021 for a moment.
As the rush hour traffic builds on Freedom Avenue around 7 am, as the Palms on Julian Avenue sway with the trade winds, as we shop in the commissary for bacon and ice cream and sparkling water, it’s easy to forget the purpose of these quiet places, Hickam and Pearl Harbor. Joe goes to work each morning. Pivot U.S. power, agency to the Pacific. Contain China. The tools in the literal warchest include supersonic jet fighters, US aircraft carriers, Tomahawk cruise missiles, cyber warriors. And guys like Joe who work to sustain US presence in IndoPacific nations like the Philippines, Japan, Korea, India.
If a shooting war starts in the Pacific, these two bases will once again be the forward presence of the U.S. Therefore vulnerable. Could happen on a day like two days ago when the commissary had a big tent erected in the parking lot selling cases of bottled water, crates of pineapples, bulk trays of Tide. When local kids jump up and down on their trampoline and that 5 year old shrieks in pure joy as she plunges in and out of her plastic pool. When Murdoch’s head rests on his paw on Joe and Seoah’s living room couch.
This is not a 1950’s retro suburban setting. It may feel like the Truman Show, but in fact it’s closer to War Games. Or, Blade Runner. Ares* walks these streets each and every day, every hour, every minute. He’s ready to prod, to push, to activate.
Sing, Goddess, Achilles’ rage,
Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks
Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls
Of heroes into Hades’ dark,
And left their bodies to rot as feasts
For dogs and birds, as Zeus’ will was done.
Begin with the clash between Agamemnon–
The Greek warlord–and godlike Achilles. The Iliad’s opening lines
Militarys are like emergency rooms, peaceful and uneventful (except for the occasional lockdown) most of the time, but full of chaos and purpose at others, usually in instances dictated by outside circumstances, sometimes with no forewarning.
As Homer elegized long ago, these are ancient roles, cross-cultural and prone to ignition by even the anger of one man. They are, in my later thinking, neither bad nor good, but necessary. That they must be controlled by civilians the cranky militias prove each time they commit a new atrocity. They are like Achilles, filled with rage and possessed of martial skills. And answerable to no one.
What a long, strange trip it’s been for me from the anti-war days of the late 60’s to the home of this gentle man, my son, in a place made for war.