Sometimes I think about my life in pictures. Like, this part of my life I'm breaking fingernails climbing up the side of a cliff, and this part of my life I'm standing in the middle of an open field spinning in circles, etc. Right now, this particular part of my life, I'm a Spartan. Yes, a Spartan.
A Spartans life focused not primarily but exclusively on the army. Boys were taken from their homes at age seven to begin boot-camp-like training, in which they were given little to eat and little to wear. This encouraged them to steal food and blankets. If they were caught they were punished, not for stealing but for getting caught. The punishment was usually some sort of beating and they were taught never to show fear or pain. The only people who were given a burial were men who died in battle and women who died in childbirth, those were the only noble deaths. When sending their sons off to fight a mother would hand him his shield and say "With it or on it," as in either win or die, don't trudge home a loser. Plutarch said that "they are the only men in the world with whom war brought a respite in the training for war." It was intense. One of their tactics, used by many ancient Greeks, was the phalanx. The soldiers would line up with their shields interlaced and their spears sticking out creating a little dome of protection. In that way they could march directly into enemy lines, and push. You'll remember it from the movie about the Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae, "300," during which 300 Spartans fought millions of Persians, and won...almost.
I don't know if I remember this from the movie or if this is an original picture in my head. I hope I came up with it myself, but I probably didn't. In the picture the Spartans sandals are digging into the sand, head down, shoulder forward, as he's pushing against his shield against the enemy. He's getting nowhere but he doesn't give up, he keeps on pushing and pushing. He looses his footing, it's hopeless. He doesn't give up. He regains his strength, braces his feet and continues on, despite the millions of Persians pushing against his one tiny shield. It's hopeless. He doesn't give up. Then, all at once, he summons his strength, gives a mighty shove and sends his enemies flying through the air and he's on his feet, alone. I think that was in "300" because I remember the ramping they used when the enemies flew through the air. I wish it were an original thought, but it's something that has stuck in my head and it's how I feel, this part of my life. I'm a Spartan. Maybe the next part of my life I can be sitting in a treetop somewhere or watching a sunset. I'm tired, what with all the climbing and spinning and pushing.
I'm without internet right now, so I'm stealing time at work. Don't give up on me, I'll be back more regularly soon. Thanks for reading.