I kind of went through something of a General Sherman phase a couple years ago/he is forever haunting me. In my poetry for prose writers class two years ago, we did translations where we took an original piece from someone else and rewrote it three different ways. I went with a section of Sherman’s memoirs about catching soldiers taking way more than they needed and like walking around with huge hams on their bayonets and stuff. This was the third rewrite which was kind of a free reign sort of thing.
We can build all the temporary shelters we need outside of all of the small towns of our hearts. We can talk for hours about unions and freedom and slavery. Of becoming a slave to unionizing and searching for freedom. It’s sad to think that even freedom can enslave us, on a metaphysical level at the very least. We can erase all injustices we want and have them still lingering in the form of prejudices a sesquicentennial later in even the most “proper” of people. We can steep ourselves in history and still never learn our lessons.
And what of group survival mentality? Are we to forage for and shelter all or keep our bivouacs and biscuits to ourselves? Whatever orders of decency that we may hand down to ourselves and others will surely be misinterpreted, misappropriated, and spit and spun back upon themselves, sometimes maliciously. Damn the South, save the Union could read like Damn the Whales, Save the Planet to the wrong set of eyes. There is a chance, maybe, that man is to forever be vexed by the impossible to understand poltergeist of the idea of the greater good. Uncle Billy wasn’t bad or crazy, just a little haunted. We will steep ourselves in history and we may never learn our lessons. We can miss meals for all the reasons in the world. Perhaps traveling light has its downfalls, sometimes serving as a physical antithetical to the Boy Scout Motto. Shoulders less stiffened by weight but feet dragging more and more with each provisionless step. How does one prepare oneself to travel with nothing, with the chance of gaining nothing, anyway? Will the pack’s skills make up for your lack of a pack? Will you put your faith in fellow pack members or will you want to pack it up and pack it in and pack your sorry self straight back home? Will you pack your head with history? And then, will you learn your lesson?
We declare a war on everything these days. Drugs, guns, terror. We declare them upon ourselves and wonder why everyday is a march that may or may not have a sea in sight. Every sleep a campsite, every challenge a battle or a city to burn so that things may start over in a “better” way, forever attempting to make Georgia howl. We leave behind others in the wake of our own destruction and go about things double-handed. We walk into our battles armed with our own forms of muskets and honey, employing the sweeter option first, attempting to win a side of flies while keeping our own unions intact. We wrap ourselves in history and take what we will from the lessons.