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.”