Day 2 of (Tentatively Titled) “Writing with Train-ing Wheels”
On fighting other people.
“You” are your own worst enemy is what they say.
But “They” can stop you in your path far quicker than you ever will (channeling DJ Khaled here)
The older-than-your-Grandma adage that “You are your own worst enemy” is really that. Old. Some would call it “A Tale As Old As Time”
[image of: Beauty and the Beast…] TK
And as with many things, they hold true for certain time periods, but not others. Most things are true for the moment, but are subject to revision and exception over medium- or long-term timeframes. The same holds true for Grandma’s words.
You are your own worst enemy over the long run. Depression is a manifestation of being your own worst enemy. And depression is a very real thing, but in I’d venture to say that in 99.9% of cases it’s something that manifests itself over months, years, and decades.
The consequences are real, of course. But it’s good to understand that depression is like boiling a frog, or death by a thousand cuts. It can lead to tragic outcomes, but in general people don’t snap instantaneously due to depression — that is, due to being their own worst enemy. It’s a release of pressure that’s built up over a long timeframe.
Contrast this with a fist fight. Who’s your worst enemy in this case? The 108kg Uzbekistani with a tattoo on his chest that says “Tenacious” in Japanese, and with a gut so big that no matter how hard you strike it, he doesn’t stop moving forward, throwing jabs to your chest, hooks to your liver and spinning back kicks to your right leg (which didn’t carry you to the station this morning as reliably as it did the day before).
I joined a Kyokushin Karate dojo in December of last year. I’d never been in a real fight before, save a quick scuffle in 6th grade in Colorado, and the time I hit a friend after too many drinks in San Francisco last year (I’m so sorry, Peter). Here I came to get over my fear of standing face-to-face with someone else intent on hurting me. What’s interesting: I found the biggest fear I (still) have is not of getting hurt, but of hurting another. It’s not as easy as they make it sound on Joe Rogan’s podcast or UFC shows to actively try to hurt someone. Here we back at Grandma’s words: the struggle is within.
But while you’re struggling to throw a punch, you’re getting bombarded by someone larger (and in many cases, smaller) than you who’s already gotten over their fear and is ready to hurt you. It’s at this moment that you realize that if this were a real fight, you’re going to lose. The person in front of you, whether a 220lb Uzbekistani with ink or a 140lb, 50 year old salaryman with bad breath and steel fists, is going to kick your ass.
And then you realize that if this were outside of a dojo, the enemy outside is going to prove to give you many more problems at this very moment, and at any given moment, than the enemy within.
The enemy outside is going to prove to give you many more problems — at any given moment — than the enemy within.
But this time, you’re going to be saved by the fact that this is all just a simulation.
[image of: The Matrix Neo Jumping w/caption: “this is all a simulation”…] TK
I thought a lot about this last night. About how we’re told that we’re our own worst enemies, but when presented with a tangible foe we realize that there are opponents out there that can make our internal struggles seems insignificant in a matter of seconds with a mawashi geri to the side of the head.
So who’s your worst enemy? 99% of the time it’s yourself, because we’re not fighting others all the time. But it’s good to know that there are times — literally only seconds, but long enough to be impactful — when you stand face-to-face with an opponent, when your worst enemy is not yourself.
So I think a better way to rewrite that age-old adage is to say this : The War may be with Yourself, but Battles are often fought with others.
[image of: the rough draft of this story] TK
This and the remainder of these posts are / will be written in Rough Draft.