I don’t want to be patted on the back. Don’t tell me I’m doing a good job. It’s such an easy way out. It gives me an escape, a release from responsibility. I’ve accepted this responsibility, because I have air in my lungs and blood running through my veins, because of others who have come and gone before me, to pursue an ideal.
A savage, hard bodied, cruel ideal. An ideal above the soft existence celebrated in this modern world. My pursuit is sweaty and bloody. It makes a mess of pressed, collared shirts and neat hair. It’s the grinding of willpower against some fortress erected by existence.
There’s little beauty on its ragged surface. On this warpath, you might see me smile in the cold faces of my dead opponents. You’ll watch as I examine the stiff, dead anguish of any beast who obstructs my intention. You’ll see moments of brilliant victory. But don’t pat me on the back. Save your hand the blood and grime—the filth—of my skin.
Just ask me where I’m going next. Because when you ask me where I’m going next, when we skip the soft formalities of “GOOD JOB,” you engage the drum beating always in my chest. Its pounding might soften after an arduous battle, my smile might betray a whisper of complacency, and perhaps I become gracious for victory.
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?”
It’s the right question. My eyes narrow, I forget the enemy dead at my feet. The drumbeat picks its course and charges loudly ahead. I again become the savage creature capable of forsaking comfort and ease for pursuit, for the intangible reward of hardship. And what is my reward? It’s hard to say.
Let it not be acceptance and honor in the eyes and mouths of other people. Let it not taint my primal desires with material superstitions. Let it not weaken my resolve to again enter the bitter arena. Let me not escape from this responsibility, this warpath, this forging of some ideal.
My reward is a small shift in my mental capacity for discomfort. It’s the knowledge that today I moved one step closer to that elusive person I desire to become. My reward lives in drops of sweat and blood, and is realized by their descent to the mat, the gym floor, or the dirt. My future is filled with these drops. It’s sweaty and bloody.
But that elusive me—that future person I am chasing, his secrets I am working to unlock—demands a tangible sacrifice. Endless and painful wishes, envy, entitlement, and shame all thrive in the minds of those unwilling to offer a tangible sacrifice. Men and women unwilling to suffer, unwilling to pursue an ideal they cannot touch and see, die by the hands of comfort. I have no death wish.
So don’t pat me on the back. By this pursuit I will survive the many and varied assaults launched by existence. I will fight standing, with my finger always on the trigger. I will never bend my knee to satisfaction, to complacency. I will move forward readily, breathing deeply the air of combat.
I will NEVER FUCKING QUIT. My life depends on it.
Look at my hardened eyes:
“WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?”