the field below. The sword seems suddenly
very heavy in my hand. Sweat stings my eyes
and makes clear sight difficult, my body
still sore and tired from the fight.
The rising sun glints from the blade, at
times brilliantly, at others dulled
by the battle scars it carries. I find
myself thinking of the men, the battles,
the wars. How we too shine at times, yet
at others are seemingly dulled somehow
by our experiences.
Innocence lost, character built, friends
made and lost… it all blurs together
at times, the good mixing with the bad,
sadness outweighing happiness. I notice,
light being reflected off the scarred blade,
one scratch in particular, close to the hilt,
so bright I have to squint, even in
this early light.
Remembering now, the struggle, the sweat,
the tears… smiling softly at the memory,
that first battle, that first win… when
victory was still sweet on the lips.
Wondering how, through time and countless
struggles the wins and losses blend into
a continuum almost, much less sweet.
Rising, lifting my head to the sun,
now fully up and bright, my body aching
less for the warmth… What is the point
I ask… of all of this, when even the win
is no longer sweet? I know the answer,
though I’m tired and don’t want to
hear it, have it in my sight.
It’s the struggle after all, the battle,
the war, that is the point. Without it
there is no glory, no strength, no peace.
I wipe the blade clean once more, sliding
it back into the scabbard, it seems
lighter again somehow, as I'm turning
and walking from this place.
At the ridge, I look back into the valley…
smiling softly once more. I’ll be back
tomorrow and for all the days after,
until this body is no longer able to fight.
Not to do so would be the ultimate defeat,
the final loss, with the knowledge of
sweetness no more, that final plight.
I look at my life this way at times…. Like a warrior, weary from battle. Not everyday, but on some days for certain. The scars and scratches on my ‘blade’ sometimes catch the sunlight and reflect it as brilliantly as a diamond; from others the light seems almost absorbed somehow. It’s as if the mere memory of that struggle can pull all the life from the light.
It’s those brilliant memories we, or at least I, long for though. As if by amassing enough of them we can overpower those that threaten to dull our lives. We revel in the brilliant reflections, are warmed by their memory, emboldened by those successes.
In those periods between however, life can sometimes begin to feel pointless, dull, as if we’ve literally worn a groove into the earth by traveling the same piece of ground, time and time again. It’s then that the strength to press on, to continue the fight has to be found, as it often feels as though it has gone.
It isn’t gone though; it’s always there, even if out of sight, below the surface. When I have to look for it, I find it can be a slippery prey, often hard to find, even harder to grasp. It’s one of the wonders of life to me, that if you’re persistent, it will always come to you in the end.
Almost a Zen thing, in that the harder you search and grasp, the more difficult grabbing hold seems to be. Then, when you pause, nearly exhausted from the fight, it slips once more into your hand, feeling heavy, solid, yet light and powerful as well. Like a well made sword.
I don’t know how others find their strength, or even if they sense it as a material object as I often do. I do know they search for it, at times, I’ve witnessed the quest, seen the struggle and the discovery, so I know I’m not alone in this.
I’ve found it’s the battles in life that serve to define us; or me at least. The wins certainly, but, possibly more so the losses, wins are easy to assimilate, to be proud of, with losses that pride is often harder to find. It’s more important to find though, and once found, serves us well going forward.
Winning is not what matters, learning is what matters. We can learn far more from losses, than from wins. That over time, each loss can teach us how to win, even while, we’re still suffering from that loss. Learning what went wrong, how to be better prepared, faster, on our feet, of hand, of wit for the inevitable next time.