PHANTOMS II – EXILE

Phantoms II“These are the times that try mens’ souls.”

Rejected.  Cast out.  Abandoned.  All but forgotten.

Thank you for holding.  All of our agents are currently assisting other customers.  The average wait time is approximately indefinite.  Please continue to hold and an agent will be with you eventually.

The path ahead winds out of sight.  My destination is unclear.  It’s foggy and I cannot see where I am going.  The future is as it always was…uncertain.  It’s my fault for wearing blinders.

I’m wandering aimlessly in this waking nightmare.  I have no guide, no map, and no light.  No companion for the lonely nights on this road.  Not a ninja anymore, but ronin — a masterless samurai…warrior without a home.

Was it a lie?  Was it a trick?  Was it all just an illusion?

“Focus on you.  Work to improve yourself.  Tend to the things, and people, that need you most.”

That’s what the phantoms tell me anyway.  Always trying to tell me something.  Meaningless platitudes.  It’s that, or they just ignore me altogether, as phantoms are wont to do.

As if they had any fucking clue to begin with.

I’ve never been one to give any credit to superstition, but as it turns out, 13 is the unluckiest number after all.

PHANTOMS I

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POLTERGEIST

Brown Lady

I never believed in ghosts until I became one.

Now, I’m just a vengeful spirit banging on the pipes, trying to get the attention of those still living.

Sooner or later, if I cannot find peace or be exorcised from the home, the occupants will flee this house that’s haunted.

Never has there been a lonelier existence or state of mind.

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PRAYER FOR THE WOUNDED WARRIOR

Wounded WarriorPrayer for the Wounded Warrior.

If there is a god, if there are any great spirits behind the creation of this universe and the guiding of fate, I need you now more than ever…

…for I am broken and weary of the wars that rage in my heart and soul.

I pray for the strength to forge ahead, for the vision to recognize my own worth, and for the victory of peace and happiness all men deserve.

Amen.

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DAY OF THE NINJA, 2013

HAPPY NINJA DAY!

NinjaDay200

2013

(forward is the way of the ninja)

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MERCILESS (AND MERCIFUL) MARCY

MarcyCLIMB STATISTICS

1 mountain — a mountain named Marcy, King of the 46ers. (5343′)

3 climbers / 3 generations — father, son and grandson.

13.5 hours — the final 2 in the dark of the forest.

18 miles(ish) — there and back again.

360 degree panoramic view.

3600′ of elevation gained.

8000 calories burned.

And an untold number of blisters, leg cramps, heaving breaths, scrapes, stumbles, scrambles, second thoughts and lingering doubts, wrong turns and backtracks, dehydrated pineapple and some gawddamn jerky beef…

…all of it culminating in a single victory.

I’d like to thank Rainer, Washington and Mansfield.  Without them this climb would not have been possible.

Rainier taught me respect.

Washington gifted me with resilience.

Mansfield reinforced me with confidence.

My passion for the high peaks has been stoked by those that came before.  Each jutting behemoth of mud and rock and snow lending to the bonfire that burns for every summit.  Each has taught me a valuable lesson, given me new strength to forge ahead — through both success and failure alike.

From Marcy I take the fire rekindled.  I’ll look back with fondness, at memories as much a part of me as my own two hands, but now I must look forward.

Morale is high and I am determined to find victory again beneath the heel of my boot.  My siege engine is seasoned and fueled for the next charge.

For now, The Marauder sleeps, lying patiently in wait.

Where will she take me next?

The Marauder

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DUST. WIND. DUDE.

GalaxyYou are a sentient speck of cosmic dust living among many on a slightly larger speck of dust that orbits a somewhat more massive and glowing speck of dust that resides within a great cloud of glowing dust that is only an infinitesimal fraction of an endless sky of dusty clouds, each of which is comprised of billions and billions of glowing dust specks that are likely to host to an infinite number of dust specks not unlike the dust speck upon which you stand now, and that those countless dust specks may also very well support other sentient dust specks that are at this very moment gazing upward into the great dust cloud in the sky and pondering the lives of specks of cosmic dust on the other side…

Ain’t it cool?

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CIVIL MELTDOWN

Here’s a fun little fact that most apocalyptic affectionados tend to overlook:

Let’s say that society breaks down, that world governments collapse and suddenly we’re thrust into a medieval, dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest style scenario. In all those plans and preps you’ve made for “getting out of Dodge” did you ever once stop to consider all of those unattended nuclear power plants and what will happen when they start to deteriorate?

I thought not. And it’s apparent that shows like The Walking Dead haven’t either.

If you have any keen insights into such a scenario then I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Here is a map I found on the web showing U.S. nuclear plant locations and the areas that would be affected in the event of a reactor incident. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

US-Reactor-Map-anim

(image provided by www.nukepills.com)

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A WALK IN THE WOODS

I took a walk in the woods today with my family…minus one.  We haven’t done anything like that since early last fall and it’s clear to me that we don’t do it enough…that I don’t do it enough.  Not only for the health benefits of getting off my ass once in a while, but to remind myself how much I really do like being outdoors.

It’s where we came from, y’know?  Originally, anyway.  So many of us have forgotten.

It was cool to be able to point out the animal tracks we found in the snow to my 8-year-old son.  We saw deer and rabbit and fox and a squirrel trail, too.  We even met a lonely snowman.  We don’t know who left him there, but I’m going to immortalize him here.

BlendonSnowman

Sadly, our hike took us no further than a local metro park.  All throughout the hike I couldn’t help but “feel” the weight of the surrounding suburbs coupled with the occasional whoosh of a passing car.  The walls of civilization can be so terribly stifling.

Even the bench upon which our snowy friend lay seemed out of place.

Tiny metal signs that once heralded proud trees of the region stood lonely vigil over shattered, rotting stumps.  A few of the signs marked nothing at all.  And the large trees that did remain were carved with the initials of couplings most assuredly broken long ago.

I need to get away more often.  If not away, just out…somewhere closer to the earth and farther from man.  I only need those closest to me close to me.

It’s not that I dislike people.  I just dislike being around so many, so often.  And it’s pretty clear they don’t like being around me either.

Not that I’m bitter.  It’s just better that way.

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PILGRIM

PilgrimWe used to hold a round table style discussion after training.  Nothing too formal, just good conversation.  And that, more than anything, is what Ninjutsu truly is…a conversation.  Ninjutsu is communal, as is conversation.

Not a lecture.  Not a seminar.  A conversation.  All parties equal and involved.

I often learned more in the 15 or 20 minutes that followed class than I did during the class itself.  I certainly enjoyed those moments most of all.

Ninjutsu grows by sharing ideas.  It’s more than a punch or a kick or an outside wrist break.  It is a way of life, comprised of many skills and patterns of thought.  It is flexible, adaptable when necessary.

Life changes.  So, too, must the ninja.

I say this as my martial pilgrimage has reached a turning point.  Gone from me are the two primary sources of Ninjutsu I employed, and so I’ve chosen to deviate from my current path and start down a new road…the road of another martial system entirely.

Does this mean I am ninja no more?  Absolutely not.  The combative arts matter little to the definition of the ninja.  The ninja has only one requirement when it comes to conflict:  If it works, use it.  Although I did not progress through the ranks of my previous system as far as others, I feel that perhaps it’s time for a new perspective.  In many ways, such deviation is at the heart of our very credo as ninja.

I will continue to apply the concepts and principles I learned while studying Bansenshukai Ninjutsu, as well as those I gleaned from my time with the Bujinkan and in the study of Shorin-ryu Karate and To-Shin Do.  What I take away from those systems will always be valuable additions to my toolkit.

My personal martial philosophy, as always, will continue to adapt and evolve as well, but always will it remain firmly grounded upon the foundations already laid.

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DAY OF THE NINJA, 2012

HAPPY NINJA DAY!

2012

(rage against the dying of the light)

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