Mottos. We all know what a motto is. We all have met people that claim to follow mottos. Some of the most well-known are in continuous use in novels, movies, plays, etc.
- "Hakuna Matata."
- "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."
- "Use friendliness, but do not use your friends."
- "Do your best."
- "Improvise. Adapt. Overcome."
These are some of the mottos we have heard thorughout our lives, though the wording may have been different. And even though they were not given to us by a talking meerkat and his warthog partner, we subconsciously have taken something from them. Whether we truly live by them is a different story, and one where only an individual can speak for themself. Years ago, I was given the pleasure of being presented a motto by a dear friend, who I shall, for the purpose of this discussion, call Tak.
"Let them shoot a bullet, then hit them with a nuke."
Tak told me this in response to some trivial thing I was upset with at the time. I can't honestly remember what it was, only that it had to do with the relationship I was in at the time. Maybe something to do with my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, I'm not sure. But Tak told me this when I was feeling sorry for myself; seeing myself as lesser than I was, not sure what to do to make people see that I wasn't to be bullied or easily pushed to the side for a newcomer to take my place in anyone's life. I felt weak; useless. I was filled to the brim with self-doubt.
Tak, on the other hand, gets a sort of natural high when reminding me of what I can do. He reminded me that I wasn't a piece of garbage, that I had so much to offer; I merely had to show it. Show my strengths, my cleverness, my ability to follow the words of Bear Grylls. Against the slings and arrows, the insults and the slander, I could prove that I was better than them, than her (again, I remind you all that what bothered me was a trivial matter involving the ex-girlfriend of a man I was dating at the time this conversation took place).
So, I took Tak's words and thought about it. What did they mean to me? Yes, a nuke is infinitely more powerful than a bullet, but did that mean I only had to prove my power over the object of my frustration? What was my power? Did I really have any? Did it mean that I should rise above the situation, or stay on its level with more, for lack of a better term, firepower? There were numerous ways I could have fought back; words or hands. I could have easily had the upper societal hand in that regard. But was that me?
As I've gotten older, and experienced more of life, I realized that I am too spoiled of a brat for certain situations. I know nothing. I came from a relatively comfortable life. My mother wasn't wicked, I was never homeless, I always had food in my belly and decent clothes on my back. Yes, I never had my father around, but due to natural occurring circumstances, he died of a heart attack (admittedly, it was not his first one, and therefore, one could deduce he may have not taken the best care of himself). And sure, I have a half-sister, born to a different father, but overall, my life could be considered paradise compared to someone else's.
When this former girlfriend of the man I was in love with decided to voice her own opinions of me, of him, of life, I must admit that, at the time, I was resentful and jealous and angry. How dare she think that she deserved the happiness that I had? He chose me over her; I had no control over that. Everyone is someone else's ex-something; it was the way of life. I was filled with the self-righteous mentality that I had suffered enough in my life and now was my time for some peace and happiness. She was nothing in my eyes while he was everything, and since she was not leaving me in peace, she must be an enemy (Again, I implore you to remember that I was younger when this boost of selfish mentality had taken hold; I've grown up a lot since then).
The power I saw myself holding over this girl at the time was the circumstances of my upbringing. Mine was not a sob story one would see on the Hallmark channel. Mine was pretty normal. No one was addicted to drugs. No one was a violent drunk. No one had a criminal record. My mother wasn't what our town considered trash and held a respectable job at a respectable business. In society's eyes, it was easy to see who the "winner" was. In life's eyes, I've come to understand that we were nothing each. Life does not care of our troubles; it merely exists.
It wasn't until later that I learned more of her own troubles. It is not my story to tell, and I doubt that I have the full story. It pained me to know how easily led I was in thinking she was an enemy of mine, when the reality of it was, we both wanted the same thing; peace and happiness have not been easy for us to come by, regardless of our different backgrounds. I allowed the visions of happy endings and romantic bliss to turn me into the type of person I did not seek to befriend. I admitted I felt guilty about being happy knowing what I did about her, and then finding happiness with the one she, at the time, was in love with. She felt abandoned by someone who had said would always be on her side.
Year's later, I must say that I, too, understand that feeling. But that's a different story for another time.
In realizing that I had false claims of superiority over her, I tried to do some soul-searching. Perhaps the power of the nuke over the bullet was in regards to overcoming challenges shot at me. Problems were bullets, my endurance and success was the nuke. Indeed, instead of focusing on being better than someone, I could focus on bettering myself. After several self-reflections (and a few mental breakdowns), I realized that this was a much more noble goal, and more rewarding.
Thus began the endless journey, full of failure and hardened emotions. But again, that's for another time.