I’m unsure of my words today. It’s been emotionally hard.
I feel like I’ve, once again, been caught in a dark alley by somebody who wants to take everything of value from me. In moments such as this, it’s fight, flight or surrender to the will of another. For most of my life, I have chosen to fight. Right or wrong or grey, I’ve broadened my stance and raised my hands. Even when I knew I was going to have my ass handed to me. There came a definite point in my life when I had had enough of being pushed around and being constrained or redefined by the baser will of others. After that arrival, I could never again walk away from a bully, whether his implements of war were intellectual, emotional or physical. I just wouldn’t let it go anymore. I spoke not with words, but from the pit of my raging soul. On occasion, that stubbornness blackened my eyes and crumpled me to the ground, balled up there like a suddenly tiny roly poly, heaving for air. Eventually, however, I began to walk away with fewer and fewer bruises. But, you know what? I walked away feeling that I won all of those encounters, simply by having stood firmly on my beliefs. And I’ve always believed in what I consider to be lofty things; consequently, I have many times been misunderstood. As I got much older, it became ever moreso an expression of principle and ideas than of footwork and quickness of hand, to stand for something meaningful. Not necessarily a square of earth, but for a corner of heart. Not necessarily a seat at the bar, but an actual belief. Not necessarily a desire to win a petty argument, but a faith in something bigger than my pride when I knew I was truly wrong. That’s gold. That’s worthy. That’s the kind of legacy you can twist into a bedtime yarn for the grandkids. Campfire stories are fun, but they’re forgettably foolish. Deathbed stories are stone-etched and never, ever speak of fools.
Since I’m at a major crossroads in my life, I thought I’d share something simple I wrote almost 20 years ago. I found it in a loose and dog-eared collection of handwritten pages full of what I call ‘word kernels’, brief ideas around which I might later return to and build a poem or short-work. Though I recall the moments in my life that inspired these words, they stare into me with a wisdom I apparently once had in view and, as the ever-arching circle of life tends to relentlessly prove, need to reach for again…
One can be the fool of the empire
From which he comes,
Or the fool of the ship
On which he goes,
But never the fool of both of those.