There was a time when I was challenged to a fight, and I wouldn't think twice. I'd go and fight. That was me.
No, that isn't correct. That was my father, and I am very much my fathers son. Or was.
Never back down. Never take any shit. Stand up and prove you wont and don't. I lived that life for many years. I didn't think much about it, but it never felt right.
He was only ten years old
When his daddy died in prison
I took care if Tommy
'Cause he was my brother's son
I still recall the final words
My brother said to Tommy
Son my life is over
But yours has just begun
Then, I got older, and something clicked in my brain. I looked at my father. He was older, and all that fighting and conflict had gotten him nowhere, and in some sense, had broken him. I think he even related that to me, in his own way, when we reconnected many years later because I hadn't seen him or been in touch with him for many years. I didn't think it through, but in some ways, it got in my head.
That wasn't me. That was never me. It was him. I wasn't that person. I just mimicked that person.
Promise me, son
Not to do the things I've done
Walk away from trouble if you can
Now it won't mean you're weak
If you turn the other cheek
And I hope you're old enough to understand
Son, you don't have to fight to be a man
And so now, these days, I am so tempted to take on fights, to fight meaningless fights with meaningless people, really only because they are challenging me. And I almost do it. Still do it. Old habits are hard to break. In addition to being tough to teach an old dog new tricks, its tough to make a dog stop chasing his tail when he was taught when young to chase his tail. And really programmed to do it so that he didn't know any other way and was validated for doing it.
I promised you, Dad
Not to do the things you've done
I walk away from trouble when I can
Now please don't think I'm weak
I didn't turn the other cheek
And Papa, I should hope you understand
Sometimes you gotta fight
When you're a man
But we are not dogs. We are humans. We have more evolved brains. Hopefully. There is no gain to fight a fight that has no meaning other than to prove you wont take shit. If you must fight, you fight. That part still holds. But only if you must. Not because you just do it for the wrong reasons. Most of my reasons for doing it have always been wrong. I was taught that way. Raised that way. And I lived that way.
The true cowards are those that must fight because they are afraid of looking weak if they don't.
That goes for physical fights as much as mental and verbal fights and arguments. I get that now. My evolved brain has figured that out.
In the song, Tommy's dad died in prison. Mine could have easily done so as well. That part probably always struck me.
There comes a time when its not time anymore. That time is now. It was probably long ago, but now is the best I can do. I guess I am still trying to make my father proud, but now, instead of fighting fights I shouldn't fight, I am trying not to fight fights that he showed me over time nobody should fight. I am hopefully making him proud by being a better man than he could be when he couldn't help himself either. Maybe his life meant more at the end of the day because I am now hopefully living my life better. Maybe not. Just a thought.
There is still a part of me that feels like I would be a coward not to take on all comers. That part will probably never leave me. Its tough. Very tough. I wont likely ever get over that completely. A lion is always the top lion and will always feel the need to defend his territory from anyone who challenges his right to claim that domain. Again, we aren't animals, but we are derived from the same core. Men are men. Leaders are leaders. Tough guys are tough guys. Fighters are fighters.
Do I look weak if I don't fight back? Do I look like I'm afraid of the fight? Shouldn't I fight when challenged to the fight? Those questions will never leave my mind. At least I ponder them now. And hopefully make better decisions and pick my battles. Only the really worthy ones, where, like Tommy said, sometimes you don't turn the other cheek. But, at least sometimes you do. And should.
And you aren't weak when you do, you are just smart. And you aren't a coward, you are brave enough to be secure about not being concerned how others perceive your actions and character.
Ya. I'm going to go with that. And hopefully stick to it. That is going to be the toughest battle of all. Sticking to that.