Sometimes I feel that in order to live our lives we – consciously or subconsciously – block out certain facts of the world we are in. It is the only way we can keep one foot in front of the next. The only way we can be happy and at peace. Deep down I think we know that ignorance is indeed bliss, and so we construct that ignorance.

Simply by virtue of writing this of course, does not mean I am innocent of this. Yet at times the veil is pierced for me. Sometimes – when I am calm and not anxious to get somewhere, when I am taking my time to walk and not checking my phone – it hits me. I happen to see someone; a person I have never met before, a stranger. But then I really take the time to look at him. I look at his posture – shoulders slightly slumped. I look at his hands – wrinkled and tired. Then I look at his eyes – darkened and lowered. And I think to myself, what could have this person experienced? What woe, what struggles? My imagination fires and fills in the gaps. A whole story is formed – filled with tears, pain, betrayal, heartbreak, loss. I feel the urge to reach out and place my hand on his shoulder.

Of course, I don’t. It’s none of my business. I have my own burdens to bear. And after all, I could be wrong.

But I know that I am not. I know I am not. So I look away.

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Fight

Sometimes when I close my eyes, or when I daydream – maybe in class, or in the car, or even during a prayer – I picture someone fighting. He brandishes a sword, or he catches arrows on his shield, or he draws a bow. Sometimes I am watching him do it. Sometimes I am him. I used to think it was just the childish side of me – the one that played with figurines and fake swords as a kid and watched WWE as a teenager. But I am beginning to wonder if it is not something more.

Is there something in me that is just perpetually restless? That person never ceases his battle. Every time he is conjured he takes up his arms again. Now a longsword, now a dagger. What exactly is he fighting? Where do these imagined enemies spring from? Wait. Not he, perhaps. I?

Yes, I. Always poised, always tense. From one battle to the next, like a never ending RPG. I am a fighter, I am a warrior. I sweat and I bleed. I shout my cry and I raise my sword. No.

I am weak. He who is strong fights once and never needs to fight again. He vanquishes his enemies and they stay gone. He lives in the peace he was won. But the one who keeps fighting is weak. He is desperate – like a cornered animal that bears its teeth at everything to survive. That desperation keeps him fighting, even if his enemies are not real.

Whenever I watch shows, I find it ridiculous that the protagonist almost never falls. He might get shot in the shoulder, or take stab in the gut, but it never is fatal. What kind of luck is that? That doesn’t happen in real life. The fighter eventually gets defeated. He gets tired and he slows. He allows a gap in his defences. He punches but he misses. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.

But thankfully this is not real life. We tend to be stronger mentally than we are physically. Our minds and our hearts can get beat down time and again but we can always get up. If this is an endless RPG, at least there seems to be limitless lives. Wounds can be bound, armour can be repaired, weapons can be reforged. But even this process of constant revival is itself a battle. A battle of attrition. And against the world, our resources will run out first. One day the fighter will get struck down. And he might stay down. Then he will discard his arms. He will take off his helmet and drop it into the dirt. He will lower his eyes, and never raise them again. His enemies will disappear – but that doesn’t matter any more. Nothing does at this point. At this point, the fighter is defeated.

Wait. Not he. I

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