‘The Eternal Gloom Is All Around Us’

 

The title of @cacrabtree’s great post The Forces of Darkness are Among Us” reminded me of a story. I’ve written before about a friend of my youth — a gentle stoner hippy freak named Marcus. When I was a teen, there was a wooded spot near my Mom’s house where a group of people including Marcus and I would party. Marcus would frequently go off into the woods and sit alone playing guitar. He was actually a talented guitarist and owned a wonderful guitar. It was a late-1960s Martin D28. A thing of beauty. Today, it’d probably be $10,000 worth of fine Pennsylvania craftsmanship. Even back then it was probably worth $3,000. I didn’t know him well enough to say Marcus loved that guitar more than anything else on earth; but he certainly loved it more than anything of which I was aware. He was meticulous in how he handled it. It got lovingly wiped down before and after it was played. And it never, ever, rested anywhere except in its case or in Marcus’ hands.

One night in high summer, the usual group was in that spot doing the usual summer-night things. Marcus had wandered away into the woods as usual and you could hear him playing over the soft sounds of the summer forest. Suddenly, the music stopped and there was a thrashing in the underbrush. Marcus burst out of the brush under a full head of steam.

Branches scraped across the Martin as he used it to open a path for himself. He dashed across the clearing to where his car was parked, wrenched open the door, and threw the Martin into the back seat. Then he turned back to look at us. He was clearly panicked … eyes crazed. And just before he dove into the car and left amid spinning tires, gravel, and a cloud of dust he shouted a warning — “The Eternal Gloom is all around us!”

Nobody knew what to do or say. We were too stunned to move. What just happened? We looked from one to another. Finally, someone said, “Maybe we should leave?” Nobody knew what “The Eternal Gloom” was, neither did anyone want to find out. So we left.

I imagine that active service members feel much the same way about the Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral John Nowell announcing “The Forces of Darkness Are Among Us.”

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  1. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    I have had a few of those moments, especially during the mostly forgotten stoner years of my youth. When I was stoned I said the most profound things. One that I remember was telling my companions that there was the most amazing thing, over there, behind all of those tall green things.

    Do you mean trees? The slightly more sober friend asked.

    Like most of life, to enjoy it, you had to be there.

    • #1
  2. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Southern Pessimist (View Comment):

    I have had a few of those moments, especially during the mostly forgotten stoner years of my youth. When I was stoned I said the most profound things. One that I remember was telling my companions that there was the most amazing thing, over there, behind all of those tall green things.

    Do you mean trees? The slightly more sober friend asked.

    Like most of life, to enjoy it, you had to be there.

    At least you and I and Marcus can argue that we were young and stupid and it was the the intoxicants talking. What’s Vice Admiral Nowell’s excuse?

    • #2
  3. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    Vice Admiral John Norwell’s comments are not nearly as substantive as your recollections.

    Presevere your memories, there are all that’s left you, as Paul Simon once said.

    I had a casual acquaintance with a great sports writer, Ken Burger, who wrote a marvelous story about a boy scout trip as a child where in the middle of the night, the campers lay down near a railroad track and feel the enormous rumble in the ground as the train rolled by. He ended the story, as I recall by saying, “I guess you had to be there.”

    • #3
  4. Michael Brehm Coolidge
    Michael Brehm
    @MichaelBrehm

    Marcus was more perceptive than most. 

    • #4