ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

We All Need a Little Cadence In Our Lives

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We all need a little cadence in our lives. Not a drill sergeant standing beside you screaming into your ear, but something to moderate us, inspire us, give us time to reflect so we can become better as we live.

Let me explain. But first, to get the full effect, consider playing and listening to this video as you read. Consider it the soundtrack for your thoughts.

 
 
Walking from the parking lot to my military day job this morning, a company of U.S. Army soldiers marched by. A young troop was shouting a call response cadence. He'd call and they'd respond to the next two lines, then say the three after all on their own:

They say that in the Army, the chow is might fine;
a chicken jumped off the table and started marking time
Chorus:
Oh Lord, I wanna go
But they won't let me go
Oh Lord, I wanna go hoo-hoo-hoooome EH!

I found myself smiling as I remember singing the same cadence, both responding as a soldier in formation, and calling as a soldier leading the formation. For those of you who've not spent a lot of time around the military, such a thing must seem foreign to you. But for those of you who have spent time around or in the military, you know what I'm saying when I relate that, although those superficial words are meant to keep a unit in step, they carry with them untold gravitas. Not only do many of these cadences harken back generations, but imagine yourself as a young soldier in training singing along with the rest of your unit, your voices merging to become one. During each verse as your feet match time with the cadence, your thoughts drift to who you were, who you are now, and who you want to be.

You're not marching alone. You're marching as a unit. You're marching through history, linked by call and response cadences soldiers, marines, warrior poets, and hard men and women have sung since before the first Roman soldier stepped out of the shadows of the Italian Alps. Many of them are filled with gallows humor, lamenting the conditions with which we are forced to live. Consider this reflection on the quality of fellow female soldiers in this follow on verse to the above cadence.

They say that in the Army, the women are mighty fine. 
They look like Freddy Kruger and walk like Frankenstein! 
Chorus:
Oh Lord, I wanna go
But they won't let me go
Oh Lord, I wanna go hoo-hoo-hoooome EH!

I've heard female soldiers change female to male and laugh as they sang. Although this appears sexist, it's an equal opportunity cadence, designed to create an us vs them mentality-- us meaning unless you've experienced life in the suck, you can't really relate.

Still others are meant to inspire and indoctrinate. Consider this one, which I remember singing back when I was still a wet-behind-the-ears private.

When I get to heaven,
Saint Peter's gonna say,
How'd you earn your living boy?
How'd you earn your pay?

I reply with a whole lot of anger,
Earned my living as an Airborne Ranger.
Livin' a life of Guts and Danger.

This cadence has far more depth and carries through to civilian life. It had to do with a life well spent, or a life thrown away. Did you live with pride or did you live with regret.
If I Die In A Drop Zone is one of my favorite running cadences. I had a Sioux Indian Master Sergeant in primary leaders course when I was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, back in the 1980s who could run for days. Tall and lean, face weathered with switchblade cheeks, he'd call this cadence with a booming voice designed to cut through the clamor of battle and inspire me.


I'd run farther. 
I'd run faster. 
I'd forget my pain. 
I'd just go and go and go, trying to emulate him, trying to go as long and as hard as he could. I wouldn't always make it, especially on the runs over six and seven miles, but I was still inspired. Even now as I remember MSG Reddoor, I can't help but me in awe of the man he became and how proud he had to have been when he finally had the chance to address St. Peter.

Now I'm a military civilian. I no longer march in formation. But that doesn't mean I don't need a little cadence. Let's play a little game. Don't think of cadence in the military sense. Instead, think of it in the sense of something that mediates you. Cadence could be the halftime of your life; it could be a drum break in between your different states of being. A cadence is a meter by which you can attune your dreams and desires. Remember what I said earlier?

During each verse as your feet match time with the cadence, 
your thoughts drift to who you were, 
who you are now, 
and who you want to be.
Your cadence could be a song or poem that inspires you. It could be a work of art or the view of a particular dramatic landscape, like the foggy rock ocean near Monterey, California, or the Rocky Mountains at sunset, or the changing of the seasons in the Adirondacks. By necessity, it needs to be something that will allow you to honestly reflect and change. Because let's face it, there's one thing you don't want to live with and that's regret. 

Regret at not having done something.

Regret at not having been something.
Regret at not even trying, because you're so fearful of failure.

Regret is a poison that can spoil your life. 

So let me ask you this:


When you get to heaven,
Saint Peter's gonna say,
How'd you earn your living?
How'd you earn your pay?


I hope you'll be able to reply without regret.

But until then, consider the cadence of your life. Consider stopping and marking time a moment, listening to the universe, or a drill sergeant, or your inner calling. And heed that voice. Don't dismiss it. A billion people have been in your position but only a few have lived their lives conscious of how they are living it. Be active not reactive. Be positive not negative. Be optimistic not pessimistic.
Please pre-order my new military science 
fiction novel from your local independent 
bookstore, Barnes and Nobles, or Amazon



Live life well.

Find your cadence.

Respectfully,

Weston Ochse
Literary Stuntman
Superhero for Rent
Yakuza of the Written Word

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