A fine parable here from the legendary "Geezer":
It was a warm, sunny pleasant day in May, 1945. Our school had gone to double shifts, as the school population began to increase and every available resource was going to the war effort, leaving nothing for new school buildings. I was in the second shift, so at about 11:00 AM I was walking down the center of the white gravel road, merrily swinging my briefcase (No backpacks then.) and probably humming to myself.
Suddenly I heard a hissing noise from in the borrow ditch, and walked over there to investigate. These borrow ditches were grassy, about 2-3 feet wide and 12?-18? deep. As I got right to the edge of the gravel, to my horror I saw a ball of garter snakes in the middle of the borrow ditch, writhing and twisting, heads and tails sticking out everywhere, and red tongues flickering in and out of the numerous heads that punctuated the ball. The ball was about the size of a #4 soccer ball, or a volley ball, and kept moving as the snakes all were all moving all the time. The ball was solid snakes, so there were perhaps 100 or even more inside the ball. Occasionally a snake dropped out of the ball and then slithered right back into the middle of it.
I was terrified, once I unfroze I stepped back and walked on to school, staying as far away from the borrow ditches on either side of the road as I possibly could. I never told a soul. I already knew that the grownups believed in such silly things as milk snakes and hoop snakes, and I also knew that they did not welcome correction or input from a nine year old child, so I was not about to expose myself by telling this story!
Some years later, I happened to idly pick up a copy of Sports Afield magazine off the rack, and took it home. Lying across my bed, I began reading the Letters to the Editor section. Apparently, the month previous, a reader had written in that he had seen such a snake ball, and everyone he tried to tell about it ridiculed him. In any case, the column was chock full of letters that began??Dear Editor, in (year), while I was walking across a (location), I came across a ball of (species) snakes just as your reader described. I never told another soul about it until now.?
The editor commented that they had received hundreds and hundreds of similar letters.
At that time, naturalists did not venture out of museums and zoos, except for a few hardy souls like William Beebe, so there was no ?official? verification to be put to the hundreds of snake ball stories. Sports Afield was typically read by literate, serious hunters and fishermen, and the editors took it for granted that the various reports were all valid. For good reason, the observations of an experienced outdoorsman were valued much more than that of a scientist who had never seen a real live snake outside of the reptile house in the zoo in his entire career.
However, now it is established that snake balls represent some sort of mating ritual among snakes, or at least that is the explanation the PhDs give. I doubt if they really have a clue as to why the phenomenon exists.
What matters to us, in our thinking and our planning, is that hundreds, thousands of people were treated to such a sight, and not one of them ever mentioned it to another living soul. It doesn?t take much contemplation before the suspicion dawns upon one that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of curious and bizarre things about this world that a few people know about due to direct experience, but are never recorded or shared with other folks. I?ll confess that given the number of years that I?ve lived, if you suspect the snake ball story isn?t my only secret you are probably correct.
There is lots of good instruction and good advice available out there. But if you really want to know about a particular aspect of actual combat, you really have to find someone who has been there and done that, and then you have to figure out how to get them to tell you the whole story. The latter is a lot more difficult than the former.
God bless and y?all be mindful out there.