Troops on the Ground
It’s funny, the things that stick with you. The things that run through your mind at odd moments.
Growing up, my friends and I babysat a lot on weekends. Friday and Saturday nights. My mother, who taught aerobics and racquetball, brokered my gigs with mothers in her classes. It was fun being a part of their kids’ lives as they grew up. As we grew up.
Nancy, my best friend growing up, and I babysat a lot. One girl she took care of called her “Itsy.” There was a boy I babysat whose toddler-speak included “taw-daw-LEE-nee” for tortellini and “boops” for boots. Things like this stick in the mind, re-appearing years later. Like when boiling pasta for dinner.
Other things have a way of creeping into being so gradually as to be nearly imperceptible. For example, I quit television a few months ago. Close to the time the three-month meditation experiment began. My evening meditations were spent calming a brain I’d overstimulated with TV. (“Doc, ever since I began hitting my head with this hammer, I’ve had these horrible migraines…”) The logical thing was to commit fully to meditating and stop watching TV.
I’d quit twice before in my 20s and once in my 30s. Now in my late 40s, I was due. Quitting TV is different in the age of the Internet, though. You don’t need one to watch it. Bit by bit, shows crept their way back into my nightly routine. The Great British Baking Show. The Rachel Maddow Show. Not nearly to the extent they’d overtaken my life before quitting. But, still I cannot currently say that I don’t watch TV.
Another example of incremental steps escalating circumstances imperceptibly. Rachel Maddow did a piece last night about troop deployments in Iraq. She built the story bit by bit. The impact of what she was saying was experiential. She’s skilled at that.
“…sending 300 soldiers to Iraq”
“…another 475 U.S. troops…”
“less than a month later … another 1500 more Americans into Iraq.”
News clipping graphics accompanied each statement one by one on the screen. She did a piece similarly about the White House’s recent reluctance to admit to “boots on the ground” in Syria, my mind observed. Over the course of two minutes of her story last night, the screen filled with clippings. Quick math in my mind tallied 3400 troops gradually deployed in the past year. Rachel Maddow then pointed out that this happened under our noses.
“A tacit, steady, undebated, undeclared expansion of this U.S. war effort…”
A big issue built up in such a small and gradual way. Masterfully reported in kind.
Last night, laptop away, I sat in meditation. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I digested that news and other accumulated bits and bobs deluging our lives these days. Incrementally our politics grow increasingly incendiary. Innocent people regularly being killed. Earnest efforts at meaningful change appear thwarted in big and small ways. Tears continued to roll down my face onto my chest. Amelia meowed and took a comforting place on my lap.
Boops. A small voice in my mind offered as a mild relief. Boops on the ground.
A small smile emerged as I kept sitting and the tears kept streaming and I continued to breathe.