Friday, December 30, 2005

Something a little different…

I sit here on this hillside, overlooking
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.

9 comments:

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

You learn from every mistake you make, and just make sure you don't repeat the mistake. That is how lessons are learned.

Life is a never-ending process of learning. I plant to continue learning as long as I can draw a breath! :-)

Happy New Year!

Liz

Comfort Addict said...

Bill,

As soon as I read the top half, I knew what metaphor you were onto. I agree that life is a series of encounters. However, I think of them as games and myself as the grizzled veteran. Each play in each game teaches a lesson. The other team will often run the same play until the lesson is learned. When that happens, it's beautiful to watch the veteran play that results.

I like this metaphor because I have seen it in a few local athletes who have had long careers in Detroit (Al Kaline, Steve Yzerman and Joe Dumars in particular). I have seen them learn and grow. I use that as inspiration for myself.

Bill said...

First, Happy New Year to you both!

Liz - I try to learn, I do a better job with some experiences than others, but I always get up a try again.

It is a journey after all.

CA - Yeah, the sword is tougher to find at times, but fortunately I always seem to find it.

I figure it's all about the journey (or the game)... and if you let the defeats keep you from it... you're not really living.

Chloe said...

I don't know where my strength comes from, but from a young age I believed deeply that no matter what, great things were in store for me. This unshakeable notion has gotten me through many storms and my resilience at times astounds me. I don't mean to sound pompous; I am truly humbled by it.

You strike me as someone who loves life so much that you see the silver lining in every cloud. And while you don't seek hardship, you recognize its own intrinsic beauty. It's a quality you're lucky to have.

Bill said...

Chloe - Thanks, I'd like to think that what you've said is true. I try to see that 'silver lining'... however, I find it can be tough to find at times.

I usually see the beauty in hardship after I've gone through it. I'd love to be able to see it while I'm struggling through it though!

You've never sounded 'pompous' to me, you have a wonderful sense of self, as well as humility. It comes through in all that you write.

I do love life, living life... I know things would be easier if I took less chances, went with the 'safe' route... but that's not living, at least to me.

More than anything, when I die, I want to be remembered by my friends and family for what I *did*, not how safe a journey I had.

As always, good to see you. I hope you had a great holiday!

Spirit Of Owl said...

First off, hope you had an excellent holiday Bill!

This is a great post, especially for the start of the year. I hope that I can find strength to achieve the things I want to. Frankly, I'm looking for a hell of a lot better year than the last one - the last several in fact. Maybe I can break out of the circle this time. :)

Bill said...

Spirit - We did, I hope the "Owl's nest" did as well!

I don't think your strength is ever far from you... but like mine, I think it is difficult to see at times, I have no doubt you'll find it when you need it.

JayneSays said...

What a beautiful post. I struggle in full Warrior mode quite a bit - not everyone (the Priests, Artisans, Servants, Scholars, Sages . . .) understands what it's like so it's nice to read about this from someone else.

To be able to find that peaceful center while fully engaged in action . . . let me know if you get the hang of that, will you? : )

Bill said...

Jayne - Are you referring to that place in the "Way of the Peaceful Warrior"? Where despite the turmoil you're somehow still calm as the battle rages?

I flirt with it... but mostly I glimpse it at best. I will keep striving to find it though.

Thanks for stopping in, and for the comment!