I mentioned, in the Magician, that when we are on the verge of being murdered we have a choice. If we embrace our fate as a victim and all the horrifying emotions that entails, our death leads us through a black hole. We come out on the other side as the brooding and morbid magician. If, on the other hand, we fight gallantly to our death, as though our victory were certain, our last breath ushers us into green fields. From there, we will be reborn as the brave and radiant soldier.
Just as the Pine Fairy lives in a world of dusk, and the magician in a world of darkness, so does the Soldier live (more or less) in a world of green spring, where the sun is always rising. With him being so bold, always racing forward to make his last stand in the here and now, there is little chance of him living long enough to see the summer, much less the setting sun.
The magician wants to escape death and avoid being overpowered by man or fate. The soldier, on the other hand, rushes towards the hand that will crush him, eager to inflict the maximum amount of damage before his flame is extinguished. On rare occasions, the magician, while probing life with his long stick, will gain a glimmer of wisdom. The soldier will never be wise, not even a touch. His life is short and filled with action. There is no time for deep delving and the contemplation of mysteries. Nor does the soldier need wisdom. He has faith. Throughout his short life he holds on to the hand of God and never lets go. This makes him brave and shining.
The magician is obsessed with expanding his sphere of power. He has little interest in doing the things he can do, and puts all his focus on trying to do the things he can’t. He has no time for politics and chopping wood; he just wants to knock that playing card from the table using his third eye. To turn a teacup into a mug, so long as he is not using his hands. He has become disillusioned with the laws of this world and sees them as his enemy. The soldier, though, is too young for disillusionment. He will die long before his dreams do. In a sense, he lays down his life so that his dreams may always live. He never seeks to expand his power, but rather to fully expend the power that God has already given him. To him, death is nothing more than running home when school is done. He only hopes he has a wonderful report card and many stories to share with his Father.
I don’t mean to glamorize the soldier too much, however. For a down to earth person, much less someone with a spouse, children, and pets, the path of the soldier is hardly advisable. Gladly laying down his own life, the soldier cannot be entrusted with the life of anyone else. He is going down in a blaze of glory and anyone who casts their lots with him will likely shine and glow beside him. And if the soldier doesn’t kill his family, his family will likely kill him. Everything that growing up requires- boredom, restraint, the weighing of pros and cons- is anathemic to his nature. Even the satisfaction of family life, the feeling of eating two extra bowls of stew after you are already full, would be death to the soldier. His life must be a half eaten sandwhich, where crisp and cold flavors explode in the mouth ignited by pangs of hunger. His stomach can never be full. That is why his appetite is always tremendous.
Still, if- despite my warnings- you want to be a soldier and don’t mind accelerating your entry into the Elysian Fields, here is the way to do it. The path is rather simple.
- Take your heart out of your chest and wear it on your sleeve. Not your goody goody heart, but your deep heart, where passionate reptilian desires lie intermingled with glittering and noble ideals. Set aside all social conventions and place this heart on full display. Allow it to guide you.
- Hold nothing back. Make today your last stand. Expend all your resources to win today’s battle, as though to tomorrow will never come. In all likelihood, it won’t.
- Seek glory; scorn dignity. Don’t be like other people who go through life gradually adding layers of dignity to themselves, like an oyster coating a pearl. Dignity makes you stiff and cautious, and limits the scope of your movement. A soldier seeks victory, not pride. He wants to shine in God’s eyes, not in the eyes of men, because he knows their eyes will not be on him for long. Glory means to hold nothing back in the pursuit of your goal. Glory ensures that when you die you will not become a ghost, drifting through dark worlds of confusion. A glorious death leads to a world of green where you will be more alive than ever before. And the world around you will be alive, every little piece of it.*
* Don’t take what I’m saying literally. Always try to stay alive.
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