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The Promise

"A Warrior Hates Fighting Because They Are Always Aware of the Damage Battle Causes." Alton Koch Sr.

What is the difference between a soldier, a fighter, and a warrior?
They all share very similar codes, yet execute their tasks in very different, sometimes conflicting means. Up until a few months ago, I never gave this a second thought.

It is the dream of any warrior to give their life in battle, for a noble cause, or in the name of something they believe in. I admit that I used to desire this, when I was younger. I dreamt about a gun in one hand, a sword in the other, atop the hill of a grassy knoll, as an oncoming horde of two hundred million came for me. I smile now even as I think about it; it would be a good death.
We all have to go sometime, and I know the strong ones have some control over their own fate.

My life could be summed up simply; someone would do something to me, everyone would laugh. I would do something back, suddenly I'm getting suspended or I'm the bad guy or I need anger management or blah blah blah. A kid named Ryan thought it would be funny to hold me under water during a school-sponsored school trip in the fifth grade. Everyone got a big laugh, somehow the teachers didn't see it. When I knocked out one of his teeth, I got suspended for three days.

If you follow my blog, you know how much time I've spent (wasted) being angry.
Alton Koch is a resident at the Towers where I'm stationed as a private security officer. He's disabled and veteran of every war since Vietnam. Up until three months ago, I didn't pay much attention to him. I don't remember how I found out about his history, but I can tell you I was drawn to the power he possesses. Here was a man who was physically disabled and unable to function without painkillers racing through his system, and yet when he saw something he disliked, the look in his eyes changed just like that. He went from broken-down old warhorse to highly trained soldier, with enough tenacity, skill, and ruthlessness to make Solid Snake look about as threatening as a throw pillow.
Alton (Al) would speak of chi and how mine was always out of balance; like I was always struggling and straining, reaching for something. I used to think that this wasn't the movies, it was real life. There's no way this old drunk has anything he to show me. But I still listened to his stories, and believe it or not, I took something away from them. He speaks how he despises the awards the Armed Forces gave him as he talks about what he did to earn them.

Two nights ago, Al appeared to suffer a severe stroke at work, and adamantly refused medical care. I checked up on him throughout the night, and at the end of my shift, he appeared to be fine.
Last night, he appeared to relapse, almost collapsing in the lobby. I knew he wouldn't go to the hospital, but I had to put my professionalism first; I dialed 911. Clutching his head in agony, barely able to stand, he waved me off and made his way to the elevator, demanding not to go to the hospital. Tammey, another resident I have gotten close too (and an ex-military wife) went with him.
The rest of the night was a vigil.
Al laid on his couch, occassionally retching from the pain coursing through him, convulsing, but never vomiting. Tammey kept a rag on his head. I remained in his apartment as he hallucinated for almost two hours. He reached out to enemies only he could see, he asked for his rifle, he said he'd "kill all of them".
A couple of times he said his goodbyes. As God Himself is my witness, I'm telling you as I held his hand, I felt his grip weaken, and I felt his pulse go to nearly nothing. I cannot tell you that I felt this man die; he had to come as close as one can. He did this twice. Both times, he fought his way back from whatever was calling him.
I asked myself...what kind of strength does that take? What kind of strength does a man possess that allows him to literally control your own fate?
The last time he did it, he asked Tammey to hand him a necklace that was hanging on the wall. It appeared American Indian in design, constructed of eagle and other animal bones, with a blue decorative stone taken from someplace called Snake River at the end. No matter it's origin, it was beautiful.
When Tammey handed him the necklace, he reached for me, beside the couch. He had lost the strength to open his eyes, and was reaching blindly. I took his hand with the necklace, and he latched onto me.
He explained to me that he had been a medicine man for the Lakota Indian tribe in his youth (I may not be using the right name) and the necklace had been given to him. As he squeezed my hand, he told me, seeming to force what little strength he had left into his words; "Don't fight for yourself. If you must fight, fight for those weaker than you."
In my head, I heard; "You have nothing left to prove."
Clutching his hand, accepting the necklace, I said it and meant it; "I promise."
Al released the necklace into my hand and without trying to trivialize it, I felt like I had just inherited the Matrix of Leadership. I held the necklace....and the words resonated as a new sensation went through me. I promise.

I left the apartment after that.
I have to say here that I believe in God over everything; I believe He communicates with us through angels who take many forms, and this is why I can be open-minded about other religions (most of them). What we call angels, some call spirits.
For the first time since I was five years old, I genuinely do not feel like fighting. I have heard stories of rage and hatred and the worse possible things people do to one another and the anger passed through me like a cold, ethereal wind instead of nesting and growing. Revenge is an illusion for those wronged. It's an evil cycle that can only reach conclusion when there is absolutely no one left to kill.

What is the difference between a soldier, a fighter, and a warrior?

The soldier fights for their country.
The fighter fights for himself.
The warrior, however, fights for a higher cause.

People used to call me a warrior and I can tell you that they were wrong. I was not, and I am not, a warrior. I have always been a fighter because while I disguised my reasons behind seemingly noble objectives, the truth is I was just pissed. Doing the wrong thing for the right reason is still wrong.

I've been a fighter my whole life. On September 17, 2008, I became a warrior.

But as I leave the old ways behind me in mind as well as body, a new road reveals itself...


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