Hard Days, Miserable Nights

Self awareness & introspection are not my favorite pastimes. I’ve spent more time indulging myself than I care to admit, now on the other side of half a century of living. I can’t be sure I’ve progressed much from all the self evaluation, although my weight was never affected by how much of my pride I’ve swallowed, however there is a glint of sheen on the edge of the knife, for I find my positions are built upon sturdier foundations, my reactions more swift, yet reasonably on point and I recover more adeptly as I emerge from the trenches to fight another day.

Exposure to the chaos outside of the cave requires sturdy stuff to avoid getting trampled under foot. The instinct to survive is perhaps our fiercest–we can’t keep that at bay, in fact there are rare instances when we even try–so encountering others will bring inevitable confrontation over spoils, superiority or position, and enduring the challenge becomes the challenge. The human animal is a cunning one, prepared from the the arrival of the self to act in a manner that achieves the means. The arsenal of intellectual weapons one develops over the years to acquire one’s desires is unparalleled among our brethren species. Deceit, manipulation, intimidation or braun become tools we wield with ease, with the most skillful amassing great wealth & power. For the majority, it’s a more mundane struggle, fighting over the crumbs as it were, but instinctively driven to succeed at whatever level we can.

I take it as perhaps a sign of improved abilities that I can regain a sense of calm relatively soon after a battle of wits. It would appear that years of study have provided some clarity among the haze of rage; an understanding that the hammering of my heart and the pressure in my head are merely physical symptoms from chemical reactions. This understanding leads to a kind of contained fury; more focused and controlled, with all the energy being directed in precise patterns of logical, reasoned ideas. For the war is not physical, but emotional and intellectual. I’ve come to realize that when the two are placed upon the scales, the intellectual weight must be the heavier. Emotions run hot as is said, and the rising thermostat can weaken the mind and tilt the outcome.

One has to know one’s goal in order to try to reach it, and when confronted, mine is to defuse and mend. I don’t relish an escalating scenario, although I am less fearful of it now for the aforementioned reasons. Experience is a remarkable teacher if you have the ability to learn. Evaluating yourself is never easy, and many choose not to, barreling ahead without the burden of humility or recognition. But for those with the strength to look inward, incremental steps can be taken. You shouldn’t have to stick your hand in the fire more than once.

As fortune would have it, I glide smoothly through most of my days unencumbered by strife and comfortable in the absurd proposition that I’m even here. I live, as do most Americans, like a relative king compared to the suffering existence of so many of my fellow primates. Being aware of their plight yet continuing on with the drudgery of a day filled with riches they can’t even imagine–driving about town on heated leather seats while sipping a cup of coffee that costs more than a day’s salary for many, just as an example–requires some ability to balance the innate madness of the situation with a stark acceptance of it. We must somehow live with the irony of being irritated that we must wait in line to be delivered a meal the likes of which many can only fantasize about. This life of relative leisure I try to enjoy can leave me wholly unprepared for a sudden or unexpected conflict. You mustn’t become complacent or soft, because while the likelihood of becoming the lunch of a savage beast is significantly lower than it was for our ancient ancestors, there are other types of threats about at all times.

I hammer out this prose in the late hours of a day that featured an inordinate level of challenges to my continued emotional survival. One by one I took them on, and steeled with an ever present need to persevere, I am able to find enough brio to assemble words into sentences as a balm for the singed brain in my skull. There’s a high probability I will awaken shortly after dawn to do it all again, for reasons no one should really be all that confident in.


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