Imagine for a second that you are rich.
Absolutely stinking rich.
There’s no catch either, no rule that you have to spend it by midnight, no taxes, no comeuppance.
Imagine the possibilities.
All of those problems, all of that shame: gone.
Every time you didn’t have enough.
Every time you didn’t wanna open your wallet because FUCK ME, as if I can trust myself to think of the future.
Imagine if all of that was gone.
Your life would really open up, wouldn’t it.
It’s the same with violence.
Imagine if you weren’t afraid to be hit.
Imagine if you weren’t averse to being abused.
Imagine if you didn’t feel uncomfortable or apprehensive at the thought.
Life would really open up for you, in different ways.
Growing up, I looked different, and I was smart: so I’d say things and kids didn’t understand what I was talking about. It alienated me.
I learned to be quiet because kids didn’t appreciate feeling stupid when they didn’t understand what I was talking about.
And the big, tough kids, really didn’t appreciate it.
So when I’d end up fighting and I’d fight smart, I’d use my brain, I’d run around the big guy til he got tired and punch him hard as I could and then run around him again… Suddenly people wanted to ask me questions, they wanted to hear how smart I was.
“…You have to PUSH them when you trip them.”
Fighting not only got me attention, it got me status.
And as anyone who’s ever fought somebody will tell you, there’s a primal sense of mutual respect thereafter. The bully is slightly in awe of you because nobody ever stands up to them and in the tribal sense he is eternally below you on the pecking order.
I’ve made quite a few friends of my enemies by hitting them in the face.
I often chose not to hit people because I didn’t wish them this graceful resolve.
I didn’t want to share any respect with them.
When you’re not afraid of violence it’s easy to stand up for yourself, for others, to move towards danger instead of flee. In my adolescence I followed the zeitgeist of generation X –the doom generation- and always moved towards things that made me uncomfortable, in aid of expanding my comfort zone.
As you could deduce, trauma constantly ensued. But I met it with courage, curiosity and where possible: gratitude.
Every event expanded my comfort zone. Made me more versatile, more evolved.
Now imagine if you stood toe to toe with several enemies, some of them lovers of violence, some of them caught up in the fray. And in that moment they had marked you for death, whether rational or emotional, lines had been drawn.
It might be difficult to believe that there could ever be respect across sides.
But deep down, we are all warriors.
When you stand across from someone with anger in your heart and adrenaline pouring through your teeth and clenched fists… There is a sense of love that you feel for the beast mirroring your contempt.
It’s not about you.
It’s not about me.
The world is fucked.
Let’s take it out on each other.
I’ve never lost a fight in my life.
Partly because I wouldn’t fight unless I felt like I had an absolutely compelling reason, the moral high-ground; partly because I believed that my pain was deeper than theirs, that they taking out their pain on me was no match for the depth of my pain.
Fight me if you dare motherfucker. My pain runs deeper than yours.
In one (of several) altercations where I fought multiple opponents, as the tension dissolved and everyone slunk off to their respective caves to nurse their wounds, one guy turned to me and said “I’ve never seen shit like that.”
I didn’t know what he meant at the time.
I went home and replayed every split second of the brawl over in my head (as you do) debating what I should have done at every step of the way.
I remembered his scared face several times, I’d even gone to swing at him and realised he was no threat before easing my rage and getting blindsided by another dude. But I realised from his point of view he’d seen me keep fighting and fighting and fighting regardless of how many times his friends hit me.
It must’ve been fascinating to somebody who didn’t live like that.
I almost wanted to find him and try tell him not to be curious, but this was back before Facebook (and text messaging).
I wanted to tell him my awful secret.
I was no hero.
I was a sick young man.
“You wanna know what my secret is? You wanna know why I never lose?”
I imagine his innocent face, eyes wide with anticipation, the meaning of life to be bestowed:
“If pain was money… I’d be a fucking millionaire.”