Saturday, July 2, 2011

Project ECHO - The Lucid Traveler

THE LUCID TRAVELER - Mark Smith
Watercolor, Gouache, Pen & Ink 13"X30"

THE LUCID TRAVELER: This is a salvaged part of a larger image. It represents the waking consciousness emerging from the depths of rigid thinking. The subject sees past the obvious into the symbolic reality of the soul. The wall above would have had a soldier peering around the corner ready to fight an enemy. The enemy is invisible to the naked eye, it is a collective thought. The wall and the soldier were to represent the defense of the Anglo American way and culture. I liked the composition of the wall and the swirling illumination above that creates a zigzag effect upwards.

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The Lucid Traveler - by Jin Kong, (originally published in 2009, edited in 2011).

I’ve always thought I am one of those endangered personality types: taking risks when unnecessary, and writing off rewards as bounced karma checks…

I never went to my high school or college graduation. When everyone in my classes were busy ordering their graduation gowns and soliciting additional tickets for their distant relatives, I was offering up my tickets and driving to the coast to get "inspired."

Perhaps it’s the existentialist in me or the cynical pragmatic soul my parents unintentionally bestowed to me, but I’ve always rejected the rewards as more reason to push forward: one accomplishment down, and so many more obstacles to overcome.

Perhaps that was why I joined the military… unnecessarily. At the time, I was in a comfortable academic environment, working on some pretty tough intellectual challenges. I guess the challenge was not enough. As far as I was concerned, it was not a challenge when nothing was at risk and no consequences were allocated to motivate me. So, being a combat medic seemed much more reasonable risk. The tag line intrigued me: “you may just find yourself alone, in enemy territory attempting to save your fellow soldier’s life.”

Four years later, I never once found myself left alone behind enemy line and I continue to count my blessings. I lost some good friends and Istill hope to work through my guilt in some meaningful way. Now I am more or less ready to move on to another stage of my life, grasping the lean hope that coming home alive was enough reward and I should just write it off.

Today I dream of more unnecessary risks but in different forms. I take my risk now not for the pleasure of taking risks. I take them on the account that I may turn those risks into rewards for someone else. That is probably why I gravitated towards Sustainability, yet I refuse to be defined by it. I am not a green foodie, or a garden nut-job hippie. I am a vet with a bad back from carrying my aid bag around for a whole year. I am a vet from another country, who only learned after service that his obligations does not end on the battlefield. I know what I must do for the world of tomorrow. I want my kids to enjoy this earth as much as I have and value life as much as they can.

My journey began at basic training, but it continues to the day I bid my goodbyes. In between is a wonderful gift I received called LIFE, LIBERTY, and HAPPINESS, for which I shall give my all to defend.

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