Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Intense play acting is not the same as intense experience. I'm not sure why. Maybe the fear isn't quite the same without the safety net. Maybe because it is the details- a crushed, graying finger or a clear picture of a specific rock as you fall- that stick in your head, and no one ever gets them quite right in training or film or whatever. Maybe your hindbrain knows it's not real and refuses to process it the same way. Maybe...

In training, simulations are good-great, even- but they don't increase survivor rates quite as much as veterans. People still freeze the first time it is real. IME.

But I don't want to talk about that. Experience changes people, whereas intense playacting just clarifies who they already were. Maybe... Oooh could the difference be as simple as that playacting is always a choice and real experience almost never is? That feels closer to the truth.

I see this in fiction. Fiction is generally hard for me to read. It rarely "feels" right. Even an author who has trained with shooting schools and talked to cops doesn't get the feel right. In non-fiction, when they convince themselves that their training and research is as good as reality it often strikes a pretension, defensive and sometimes laughable chord. But sad, too. And sometimes dangerous when inexperienced people believe.

The ones that read right, the ones who speak to me, write from experience and it is almost more a matter of getting things out of their system than sharing. One I like is Drew Rinella. A student of mine in the past, and of Mac's. A paramedic who has volunteered with FEMA (most notably Katrina relief).

Drew writes: "Here are the poems you requested. Each tells a story that doesn't need to be told anymore." They needed to be told at the time. Here are two. Both are (c) Drew Rinella. His other works can be seen at:

Lilies from Peru
Tell me, little guy, that in your single spin
around the axis of this earth,
You felt more than a cold hospital bed.
Tell me that you saw the sun and felt its heat.
Tell me that you tasted everything in reach.
Tell me that your chest filled with a summer breeze.
That you pet a kitten. Smelled the rain.
Tell me things are better off this way.
I don't know why God called you home so soon.
I don't know you.
But I hope you like alstromeries.
Hide your eyes, little guy, and I'll hide Easter eggs
on four corners of your grave.
No peeking; no cheating.
Hide your eyes, little guy,
and I will hide the tears in mine.
Upon your headstone: lilies from Peru.
Does a good job
Of washing you away
Is my ritual
Eleven times a day
The body is so cold
The body is so cold
The body is so cold


Anonymous said...

Heart swells with sadness-joy; revealed heart, the compassionate warrior.

gwadzilla said...

time to put the kids to bed...

will come back to read more later

need to focus on finishing some thomas track before they climb into bed

can not remember my comment
the track needs a father's touch

Drew Rinella said...

I appreciate the post, if I never said so before. Thank you.

I don't do the myspace thing anymore, but seeing as that you are publishing your archives now, my blog address is

Thanks for reading.