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Put Me in the Action Radius

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Between Scylia and Charybdis/Boredom versus debris/Daily routines make moods vary like parking meters/Feeling hollow like empty bottles/In pieces like jigsaw puzzles
"Action Radius" – Junkie XL

Getting shot at, snapping that one-in-a-million photograph, running into a burning building, chasing down a tornado, tracking down a story all the way to the snarled, twisted end—what do they all have in common? Well, at least for this writer, the answer would be adrenaline.

It's the pure bolt of electricity that starts at the tip of your toes and electrifies you to the top of your skull when the action is taking place all around you. Never am I more in control of my body, my movements, my actions, my thoughts when chaos is running rampant all around me. The sounds of yelling, screaming, and calamity deafening the air, the unique smells of each situation, the amazing visuals on display for you and your eyes only—all of them combine to form a powerful Molotov cocktail forever exploding its images across your cerebral cortex. Somehow, somewhere when everything is going to hell in a hand basket, a disturbing calm floods me, a powerful focus of purpose that distracts me from everything else but the job at hand.

Sweat dripping from his forehead, the precision hands of the EOD tech planted the final charge to blow up the IED we just found.

“I get paid to do this,” he said to me; “you, you’re fuckin' crazy.”

I looked over my shoulder. Me and the EOD tech were the only two anywhere near our location—everyone else had moved back a safe distance.

Yes, yes I am. The words bat and shit come to mind actually.

People always tend to look at me a little slanted with a puzzled look on their face when I tell them what I do. Invariably, the unasked questions flow across their face in a case of thinking too loud.

“Aren’t you afraid?”

Simple answer—hell yes I’m afraid, that’s part of the appeal. Conquering fear, putting everything into its place, measured, reasonable response battling it out with the urge to go full tilt—self-mastery, self-discipline.

I need a club, or more like a 12-step program, hello, my name’s Ben, and I’m an action junkie.

From the overwhelming desires to throw on the body armor and head back to Iraq or Afghanistan to the hairs that stand up on the back of my neck every time the tones sound on my pager—give it to me and give it to me now.

“You’re intense,” one of my Soldiers said to me the other day, mud and water dripping from my uniform, fresh from crawling some distance through a flooded pasture.

Cow-dung, wet grass, sweat, they all soaked me as I made my way to the objective.

I didn’t have an immediate answer for my Soldiers, just a puzzled look on my face as I pondered the statement.

What other way is there to be, I thought to myself much later as I reflected on my Soldier's words.

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