The VigilanceVoice  

Sunday.. January 20, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 131

Old Wise Wolf Of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

            Helena, Mont. Jan. 20—I am “macho ici matia!”   That’s Sioux for “wise old wolf.”   It is pronounced “mah-show…ish-ee…..mah-tee-ah.”
            My Sioux friend, Jim, named me that.   I met him at breakfast at Jorgenson's, a motor inn in Helena that serves pancakes bigger than the plate.
            Jim wore a black cowboy hat pulled tightly over his head, shaped like the arc of a bow. A band of silver designs wrapped themselves around the brim.

         His face was craggy, scribed by the pen of time.   His brown eyes held the hints of age’s clouds, milky rims around his pupils, smoke signaling time eventually blinds us.  But his pupils were bright and sharp, honed as fastidiously as the tip of flint arrowheads.  They speared into you, piercing through the shell of your physical self and riveting deep inside the “Great Spirit” that dwells within.
            I felt intimidated by Jim’s “hunter’s eyes.”    They held the power of patience and could see things that I, as a White Man, might never see.  Jim’s eyes were born to see through the physical, deep into the roots of the Nature of Everything.  Mine were designed to see the tip of my nose.
            “Tell me which was your favorite horse?”
            Jim had spoken earlier of the spiritual power of rising at 4a.m. and riding his horse up into the mountains, communing with the trees and rocks and streams and earth that compose the serenity of nature.  It was his way of escaping the madding nature of modern civilization, of returning to the womb of his existence-- being safe in the arms of his true mother and father—the pristine, the pure, the virginal.
            “Thunderbolt,” he said.  “He was a black and white pinto.   He held his head high.  His hooves made the noise of thunder when he wanted them to.   He was power and strength.   I felt privileged to ride him.   I was riding a thunderbolt.  He gave me life.   I was sad when he passed to the other side.”
            I wanted to ask Jim about Terrorism.  I wanted to get his “take” on it all.  But something held me back.   Jim was trapped in time.  He was in today.   Terrorism had come and gone.  Jim had offered earlier in conversation  “yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, and today, the present, is a gift.”  I had nodded in agreement.
       Today there was peace.  Today the sun rose.  Today the air made a cloud when you breathed out.  I felt the power of being alive just talking to Jim.
            The Sioux knew about Terrorism.  All Indians do.  The Sioux were chiseled in history for their great act of defiance against General Custer—for their  bravery in the Battle of Little Big Horn and many other skirmishes with civilization. 
           The Sioux reminded me of the Spartans of Vigilance.  They were fearless warriors in their day.  Now, they were peaceful reminders of an era past when they were beaten by Time and civilization’s advances.
            “I had many horses in my life,” Jim said after a long pause.  “Thunderbolt was my finest!”
            Jim smiled at me again.  The arrows of his eyes sank deep.  I felt like a child sitting at the feet of the wise man, soaking up his unspoken wisdom.  

           “You are “macho ici matia!   Wise Old Wolf!”
            “Why do you say that?”
            “You asked about my favorite horse.  Only a Wise Old Wolf would make me travel back on paths of greatness.   I had forgotten him.  Now he lives again.”
            I felt good.   Jim had a way of making me feel important.
            He stood tall, dignified in his old age.   He could have been seventy or eighty.   He spoke of his Comanche wife.   He spoke of the Great Spirit who gave him peace in a world of turmoil.    He was happy with his life.
            “Were you afraid to die at Ground Zero?” he asked.
            I paused, remembering the black cloud and the earth erupting as the buildings crashed, and the women beside me wailing, “We’re all going to die…we’re all going to die.”
            “No,” I replied.   “I was ready to die.”
            “That is good,” Jim said.
            Earlier, I had told him the story of the women screaming about dying when the Twin Towers began to fall and we all thought we were about to die.   I told him how I put my arms around them and pulled them into the wall of the building we were standing against to protect them from the debris and fallout.   And how I instinctively told them over and over “think of something beautiful if we’re going to die…think of something beautiful.”  
            I had no idea where those words came from on Nine Eleven.  All I knew is that I didn’t want to die in fear, or intimidation, or with complacency.
            “It is good you do not face death with fear.”   Jim nodded as he spoke.   “Courage is knowing you are invincible to death.  If you believe in life, death cannot haunt you.   Death only hunts those who fear it.”
            “Yes, I understand,” I said.   And I did.  In Vietnam I had faced death many times.  In January 1996 I  faced colon cancer.   On September 11th I faced another kind of death…being killed by Terrorism of yet another kind.    I had had my share of skirmishes with the Terrorism of Death.  I knew there were more days to come.
           “You are a wise old wolf to not fear death.   Your wisdom can feed the world.  But you must not hurry.  Ride your pony to the mountains in the morning.   Drink in Nature.  Respect Her.   And you will prosper.  You will not be afraid.”
            Every part of me wanted to yell:  “But what do you know of Terrorism?   What can you tell me that I don’t already know or have experienced?” 
            But I knew Jim was Time itself.
            He knew everything.
            He knew evil would be punished; that eventually good would conquer evil.  His people had been terrorized.  Their land had been yanked from them.  Their culture had been crushed.   Civilization tried to destroy their way of life.   But the Sioux and other Indians were stronger than the Terror.   Their Sentinels of Vigilance were standing watch, renewing the strengths of its children.
            “Should I keep writing my journals, my diaries?”  I don’t know why I asked.   I knew better than to question what I did, for it appeared I might be weak, or less committed.
            “Ride your pony through the mountains of your words.  Let your words become trees.   Let the Voices you make on paper sing like the birds, and flow like the waterfall. Let them be the wings of eagles.  Let them fly true like the arrow.  Keep vigilant and you will stay on the right path.  Ignore the truth of your heart and you will fall off the edge of the earth.”
            I nodded.
            Jim put his hand on my shoulder and peered into my eyes.  “Macho ici matia!”  he said. 

            “Macho ici matia!”   I replied.   Then he touched the brim of his hat and I headed North and he South.


Go To Daily Diary, Jan. 19-Fresh Land Kills

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