Friday, October 17, 2008

The fight

Have you ever been through that phase when you feel you need something exciting to happen, some landmark event that changes the way you deal with life, that forces you out of your comfort zone, and lands you right in the middle of chaos, with only your wits and your MacGyver-ish instincts to lead you into the light. If you are as old as I am, you probably cross yourself immediately and pray the universe was too busy to process your rogue thought. You have been there and done that already, and lived through situations that demanded more than you thought you had, and you don't want to willingly put yourself through that turmoil ever again. 

 In this immediate regret, you probably realise that you are simply tuning in to the self-preservation instinct that all of us have built into our psyche. It is this very instinct that both holds you back from doing something stupid and potentially dangerous, while also forcing you to hold yourself back from taking up anything that is challenging and beyond your current capabilities. How does one decide between the former and the latter. While it sounds easy to spot an opportunity for disaster versus one that opens you doors of learning and challenge, I personally cannot distinguish these for myself, and am forced to let fate throw whatever it has at me, while I battle away, picking up more scars than platitudes. Is this the fate of everyone else? Does everyone else on this third rock from the sun allow the universe to decide what their next battle will be, whether they will gain from the fight, or simply be crushed by its random, unpredictable cruelty? 

 All we have for reference is celebrity. Records of famous persons battling with circumstances, suppression, violent retribution and sometimes plain old hatred. For instance, Muhammad Ali was stripped of his boxing title, and banned from competition for some years. Right at the peak of his physical form. What did he do? Screamed, shouted and raised hell, but bore the punishment out, came back to the ring and still wasted his opponents. His career then slowly declined, and the inevitable enemy of age caught up with him. But he fought the good fight, and survived it. Did he gain anything apart from the adulation that we shower on him? Did he personally change for the better after battling adversity? I do not know. All I know is that he lost out on some of the best boxing years of his life to live by his principles. Perhaps that seems like a huge price to pay for the rest of us, because we may not be as rigid in our own principles as him. Who knows. 

 The 'greatness' factor comes into play at this point. What qualifies someone to be termed as one of the 'Greats'. Is it simply talent and performance of his physical body, strength of mind and character, his personal triumph over his personal demons, or collective good that came from his personal struggles? Why are there just a few of such 'Great' people. Are they simply better people to begin with? Or do they adapt and change and achieve 'greatness' over a period of time. Or is it just that the opportunities that life dealt them to exhibit their strength and prowess were not available to the rest of us. In our hubris, we'd like to think this is the case. That given the same opportunities to right hook and upper cut our own demons, we'd always walk away with the Gold. But it is an open question, and will remain so always. Each small battle fought leaves its scars, and adds a little toughness. During the course of each battle, there have always been negative thoughts weighing us down, pushing us to take the easy way out, to give up. Each battle has many smaller fights with the self to defeat the defeatist mentality, and persist. There is always the hope that given enough time, even we can fight our way out of this mess. Of course, there are many battles lost for every spectacular victory won. And after all the fighting there is just the one result...survived or dead. Leaving you nothing to hold on to. Nothing of the fight that you can turn back on and scrape for some confidence. A part of you aches to fight some more, just to be in the fray, and live out the madness. Another part fights against you, hoping you will take the easy way out and continue living without the madness. That is the one true fight. The fight for control on your own self. We have not yet won this fight, it never ends... it is played out each time an opportunity presents itself. Let us begin again, and let us end.

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