A while back I went to Esalen, up by Monterey, Calif. What an unusual place. The place is beautiful, has the best hot tubs in the world. They sit right on a cliff and at night, you just pull out a cork plug and let the hot artesian waters fill your 8 person tub to overflowing. You then hop in, settle down in the hot steaming water, and listen to the waves crashing on the rocks at the base of the cliff below. Some nights, there's even a full moon to watch making silver reflections out over the ocean. They have candles and incense burning, so it's peaceful...and we all know from time to time, we need a place of peace to hang out for a while.

While there, one of the gals we were traveling with took one of the courses they offer. This one was about "The Art of War."  An oriental fellow, years in the past, wrote the book, and in this course, they made a practical learning exercise out of it.

They had rules. Simple ones. Rules you could easily abide by in a crowed room, with non-military people...with no guns, knives, or explosives involved. Rules like if you got hit with a ping pong ball tossed into the crowd by the instructor, you were dead. However, if you were facing east at the time you were hit, it was only a superficial wound. The rules were to give the people in the room, a feeling of war, of struggling to survive, of dying, seeing others die, seeing the craziness of who dies and lives, and the uncertainty of living at all....all in about 45 minutes.

The instructor was the moderator. His word was absolute. If he said you lived or died, there was no argument.

My friend, is exact in all she does. She has been following all the rules her whole life...and is good at it. She asked questions about each rule, understood them completely, and then played by them.

The game started and ping pong balls were flying...people were being deemed dead left and right. The crowded room, began to have all the "dead" sitting around the walls, laughing at the game in progress and those still in it. The living became fewer and fewer, playing by the rules, and trying to survive the war they found themselves in.

The instructor looked at Sue, saw she was following all the rules, working up a sweat to dodge the ping pong balls, doing all she could to "stay alive", to make it to the end of the war she was in. He saw her trying so hard and was absolutely intent, totally involved in the war. He calmly walked over to her and said, "You're dead...go sit down."

She was shocked, looked at him in disbelief, knew she had followed all the rules, and had not been hit by a ping pong ball....and said, "Hey, that's not fair....I've followed all the rules!".

He looked at her intently and said, "In war, even when you follow all the rules, you can die ..."



Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book
by, and included here with permission from Steve Richey.

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