got me counting the times i suited up for war. physical, mental, emotional and spiritual threats. i may not throw the first blow, but step up and watch me not back down. i don’t enjoy fighting, but there’s a warrior spirit in me somewhere.
Five teenaged girls stopped me on my way somewhere, tried to take my belongings. One of them had pulled out a switchblade, one of the older ones. This wasn’t supposed to happen in a smaller city, wasn’t supposed to happen outside an alleyway, definitely wasn’t supposed to happen in a middle-class residential neighbourhood. I walked these streets with no fear.
“Give us your bag,” the girl with the knife said.
The punch came quick, no time to duck. Sunk my nails into the aggressor, twisted her arm.
“Trust me, you don’t want to do that,” I said. I wasn’t even angry, just surprised that someone would try to punch me. Had never happened before.
“Let go of her arm and give me your bag,” the girl with the blade said.
My voice turned to steel, cold, and I didn’t let go. “I already said no.”
Interludes from Doggystyle played in my head: we could either handle this like some gentlemen, or…
Minutes later, a five-on-one scuffle. Kicks, punches, one of the girls on the asphalt, my knee on the small of her back as her homegirls tried to beat me off her. They tried to have it their way. They would have had it their way, had a God-fearing neighbour not heard the ruckus and come running out of his home waving a mobile or cordless phone.
the response to emotional threats isn’t much different. disassociation, sharpened reflexes. on auto-pilot, and the neurotic, i-choose-flight persona shut down and pushed aside, to be dealt with later. forget cowardice as a survival mechanism. the flipside of cowardice is bravado, and i’m not down with that either. it’s easier to face battles than hide and hope they’ll disappear. all that aggressive confrontation is energy that has to go somewhere.
the aftermath, whether win or lose, is the same. body hunched, shrunken after emotional/physical exertion. back muscles stiff, from the pain of giving/receiving blows or holding the anger and the fear in. chin lowered in weariness, eyes duller. the post-adrenaline climax down leads to sleep for days, a gentle reprieve for re-generation.
i’m not a healer by nature, but i do covet that gentle, soothing touch; yearn for that mind-calming talent. i would rather be balsamic than inflammable. at the very least, i want to be able to sit down at a table rather than crouch into position, sword drawn.
while not very much has been at risk in previous skirmishes, this willingness to battle has me worried about what would happen were the stakes to be high. when the drive is fiercely all-consuming and unguarded. when the battle is to the death – for love, family, belief, country.
soundtrack to this thought: lost ones.