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Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Surreal Moment

This is Steven Petrick posting.

If you have seen the movie "Patton" starring George C. Scott in the title role, you may recall a scene in which the character stops a ride to a battlefield to divert to another battlefield. He tells his companions in essence that he can "sense" there is a battlefield down the other road of the fork they have reached. We are then treated to views of "Patton" remembering a Carthaginian town destroyed by the Romans, and claiming he remembers because "he was there."

I am not Patton (and I could not swear that I remember such a thing as was shown in the movie from the few books I have read on the man). I am not much enamored of reading character studies and more interested in the whys and wherefores of maneuver, victory, and defeat.

Still, many years ago my father was getting remarried and decided to have the wedding in a chapel in Austin. I may have driven around Austin a few times in my life (like when I was transferred from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1983), but I have never been through the town or gone sightseeing there. Oddly, however, when I arrived in my hotel room in Austin and finally had a few moments to catch my breath from the trip, my entire being (pardon the artistic overreach here) was drawn and directed towards one location.

The terrain in Austin is nothing like it was in the early to mid 1800s, having been completely urbanized, so there were no visible terrain features. Certainly the object of my sudden focused attention was not visible and I had never looked at a modern map of the city that might have inculcated the knowledge my subconscious seemed to be acting on. All the maps I had ever seen of the site had been duplicates of the terrain as it was when the event happened.

Yet, there I was, in my hotel room with my older brother, pointing directly at the Alamo.

I do not claim that "in a past life, I was there," only that it was kind of surreal to know, definitively that something I could not see, and had no reason to know the relation of to the hotel I was in, was where it was. (And if I was "there" in a "past life," there is no telling if I was in the post, with El Presidente, simply a bystander, or in the concepts of some reincarnation believers, not even "human" at the time.)

Yes, I have read a lot of books on the Alamo, and can do a pretty good off the cuff presentation of what is "known" to have happened there versus what "Hollywood" has created the impression of happened there. Nothing I know of, however, can explain the deep in the bone certainty that something was there (I did not even know it was the Alamo I was pointing at, only that some "battle" had been fought there, again in shades of the scene from the movie) that I experienced in that moment.

I did walk from the hotel to the location (which is how I discovered it was the Alamo to which I was being drawn), and did then tour the site (and pick up a few more books on the siege to read).

To me, somehow knowing the Alamo was there remains one of the most "surreal moments" of my life.