“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise…

maya_angelou

Maya Angelou, Still I rise

The art of war – Part I

I am a fighter. I made mistakes; I stumbled upon; I fell countless times. I had my fair share of life’s capriciousness. More than some, certainly less than others. Yet I have managed to survive. I would not have been able to survive if I weren’t a fighter, if I had not chosen to “fight back”.

I have thus earned myself a bad reputation. Angry. Spontaneous. Unpredictable. Dangerous. A loose canon indeed… But those who have ascribed those epithets to me were – surprise surprise! – on the receiving end of my wrath. I have rarely been considered a liability by those on my side, be it an institution or a friend, as they knew that my anger was often a knee-jerk reaction to some perceived or real unfairness, a survival instinct in the face of some challenge, betrayal, harm. That it was my way of coping with pain. My path to resurrection. It was almost never a result of ill-intention or a secret evil agenda.

They also knew that I possessed an “acquired” awareness (thanks to years spent in therapy towards which I had a condescending attitude initially, until I found a therapist who slapped me on my face in our very first meeting). I was capable of self-criticism and, allow me to indulge in a little bragging here, of learning from my mistakes. True, the damage I caused was irreparable in some cases and I did hurt quite a few. And yet I have always been the one paying the higher price. In cases I could not undo what I have done, I tortured myself to death so as to not to make the same mistake again. And in cases where my anger was justified, well, as I said above, it was already a reaction to some harm, directed to me or my loved ones (and I use “loved ones” broadly, to include not only my family but also my close friends).

That is also why people who cared about me have never abandoned their hopes in me and offered their friendly advice, pointing to (in good old days) my youth, my lack of experience, my prejudices, showing me how I could have averted some of the mistakes I have done.

And in years, I have mastered “the art of war”. I have taken the great Chinese general and military strategist Sun Tzu’s lessons to heart. I have learned that victory depends on knowing when to fight and when not to fight, who to fight and who not to fight; that one needs to “engage people with what they expect” as “it is what they are able to discern … It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.” I have memorized his dictum, “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”

And above all, that “the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

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