The Eternal Antagonist
Life is a war.
Every day is a series of battles, a procession of conflicts that we attempt to resolve through whatever means necessary. The imposition of will upon another, the resistance of influence and expectation… However, there is one opponent that we can never truly defeat, merely hold at bay for the next confrontation, one we cannot hope to outlast or silence or dominate into subservience or submission. Our most ubiquitous enemy… Is ourselves.
Have you ever stood at the edge of a cliff? Perhaps the edge of a building? One thing that surprised me was to learn that I am not the only one who, when at the precipice, heard this little voice inside said ‘jump’. It came from the blue, it was uncharacteristic, I had no designs upon the ending of my life. As such, this particular battle was easily one. I simply continued to take in the view of the ocean, the rocks below, the gulls in the air… And stepped back from the ledge.
Sometimes, that voice isn’t as easy to silence. Even in the most mundane of situations, it can creep up. Go on, one more drink won’t hurt. You can start that diet tomorrow. You don’t really need to make that phone call. Perhaps we are only ready for those moments we have to battle for our very soul due to the less consequential skirmishes along the way.
We all have our demons, don’t we? Allow me to enlighten you with regards to mine. Mine was an almost narcissistic delusion of my power over the world around us… Not a delusion of grandeur, but one of responsibility. Any evil in the world is an evil I chose to allow to stand. Every atrocity, every abomination, every injustice stemmed from me. There was no situation I was in that I didn’t have the power to resolve, there always must have been something I could have said or done to resolve it. Failure to do so means the consequences are my burden.
I only held myself to that standard, nobody else. I am not against compassion, but there comes a time when you can only live a happy, free life when you learn to say ‘this is not my fight.’ Nobody can right all of the universe’s wrongs, no man can manipulate existence like Neo in the Matrix. I learned that ‘lesser men’ were not lesser, but that I was not as great as I thought.
That guilt for not being the saviour of this world still crops up. I still fight that battle every day. The difference is, I’m a better shot than I used to be. I used to wage a hopeless war on the world because I couldn’t defeat that inner me, that enemy. Now I live life differently, because I see that demon across No Man’s Land, I put my eye behind that iron sight and I pull the trigger. I hope that one day, you learn to do the same. But if you don’t?
Don’t beat yourself up about it.