Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cowards and Fools

You know, I have fears just like everyone else. Contrary to popular belief, I’m a human being and have emotions. There’s a lot of evil in this world, and I’ve unfortunately faced a panacea of it, and the result is I carry a constant wariness. I’ve learned how to build walls, place distance, and shield myself by saying no and gathering the courage to walk away. Yet, despite my shaking hands, I face most of my fears. I’m not afraid to fuck up, nor am I a coward to own up to my mistakes. So, I find it quite vexing to be surrounded by cowards – people who talk tough, puff out their chests, and project an image of strength. Yet when it comes times to act they run and shoot their arrows from the shadows, negating any sense of responsibility.

Right now I’m fighting the biggest battle of my life and it literally rips my heart in two when I see great men run away in cowardice… over stupid little shit that means nothing. A great man isn’t the one that can hit the hardest or kill the most. It’s the one that can do all those things, yet with the simplest touch of tenderness earn the devotion of his men.

Case in point.

I recently had the honor and privilege of meeting a man who is strong by all outward appearances, even physically he looks like he could tear your head off with relative ease. What attracted me to this man was his sense of authority. When he spoke, those around him listened and followed. He was a natural leader. I got to witness this leadership, not by his words only – but by example. He jumped into the trenches, wasn’t afraid or too haughty to so the menial things in order to help build his team. Oh, he was tough, and spoke tough, and was hot-headed like you wouldn’t believe. I watched him verbally incinerate people like a pit bull. That’s what I compared him with – a pit bull whose growl made all the other tough-talking men sound like puppies in comparison. I was impressed by this, not because of his domination, but because I saw his aggression as passion. Passionate people love deeply and hate magnanimously, but they at least feel. I got to see that compassionate side too… when he stuck around to help a wounded friend. I was colored impressed.

This man’s compassion was also evident in the way he spoke of his friends and allies. The love, pride, and admiration that he espoused stirred up my longing to be a part of it, carrying a hope that one day he’d speak of me with like compassion. I followed this alpha dog around the yard, so proud to be part of the pack, enjoying all the rough-housing, the playful yard fights, just happy being there… until one day he turned around and bit me. At first I thought it was a small nip of correction, but it wasn’t. He got a taste of blood and the next thing I know he’s got me in a throat clamp.

Up until that point, I could understand. I was a new bitch in the yard. I needed to be tested before I could be fully accepted. My presence stirred some of the Betas to become courageous, and because one dared to deny the alpha, he was rejected from the pack. That principal in and of itself, I could understand. But what shocked me is the display of cowardice that followed.

After the big yard fight, and my submission, all became quiet and the Alpha took his spot on his throne and the rest of us all went to our little corners to lick our wounds. Assured by the Alpha and all the Betas privately that all would be well as the sun set, that all was forgiven, that tomorrow was a new day, I woke with the golden light of dawn to an empty yard. The liars moved on in the middle of the night, in the shadows, slinking away like cowards as I slept. Yet, they were far from unified. As they reached the edge of the wilderness, they all scattered like the wind. All but the Alpha circled back to me alone in the yard, promising me that I was part of their pack, and that all would be well when tempers cooled. If not, that I had a place in whatever new pack they formed.

This once beautiful pack that I loved, admired, and was often jealous of their bond wasn’t as it had seemed. For a while I thought I had caused the fissure between them, and the guilt ate at me. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. When taking care of myself was the most important thing in the world, I instead worked tirelessly to try and breach the gap – urging all of them to return to the Alpha without me and make things right – because what they had was worth fighting for, it was one of the few beautiful things in this gray-colored world. But the Alpha disappeared into the forest, leaving the pack scattered.

I know now that the cracks were not created by me or my presence. They were already there and I just happened to be a catalyst that brought those hidden things to the surface. I still believe that there can be reconciliation, but not from the shadows. I’ve moved on and joined another pack, yet determined to remain independent at the same time. My hope is that these young pups return to their Alpha. Life is too short to have stupid shit like this destroy something so beautiful. If they could see themselves the way I saw them, they’d see it’s something worth fighting for.

I’m forced to face the possibility of death as I fight for my life. In this perspective some fights are futile, yet some are worth the pain. There’s enough shit in this world, don’t let this be another piece of it. The beauty of this pack was never about the game, but the brotherhood. Scores don’t mean shit, skill means nothing, and tournaments don’t compare… to the friendship, the love, the support of knowing someone’s got your back, someone’s there when you need them, someone gives a shit whether you’re dead or alive. Trust me – those are the important things in life, they’re what make life worth living. Cowards get hung up on the bullshit, because they’re too afraid to let someone get close. Getting close, means exposing yourself to the possibility of getting hurt. So, instead of putting that possibility on the line – they hide in cowardice – kick out, unfriend, ignore, and run away because that’s the easy thing to do.

I’m such a fool. I know I’ll die a fool and I’m okay with that. In my foolishness, I’ll still love the unlovable, even when they will never love me back. I’ll still love my introverted friends who don’t need me or want me. I’d rather be a fool than a coward, though I’m often both.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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