Do Your Worst
“The struggle is real.” Oh my word, humans can be such jackasses, myself included. Have you said the phrase? I’m a real fan of comic relief, but occasionally my attempts can go over like a lead balloon.
I was joking about struggle the other day but, really, personal conflict would be a better way to describe it. My articulate son brought me up short, “Mom, humans like conflict.” The expression stuck with me so much I peppered him with questions on his statement. His proof was in the verbal sparring constantly seen in friend groups or social media, the natural tendency to gossip, and the individual ego’s perpetual attempts to prove to their fellows that “I am right and you are wrong.” He nailed me on that one, when I am having trouble dealing with my struggles, I’d rather pick a fight than actually deal with them. I believe my youngest son has picked up this skill from me in spades! That quality doesn’t help the general difficulty in keeping close relationships that he mentioned as well.
Wow, do we really “like” conflict? My son believes that humans need purpose and that need is the “root of the tree that leads to conflict.” He is one who believes in the “blacksmith effect,” as he calls it. That each of us needs to be sent into the fire in order to be forged into something useful.
Maybe we don’t like conflict, but we instinctively know that we are molded by it. My view is that there are conscious decisions that must be made at critical junctures in conflict; that we can choose to rise to challenges and allow ourselves to be strengthened by them. That view comes from not making those decisions at times, which would allow conflict to engender a victim mentality in me. That whole “struggle is real” thing can come out looking like “poor me.” Not a pretty sight, IMO.
I’m generally better at writing and thinking about life than living it, so what do I know? I do know that when I pass through rough waters, I feel like I’m drowning and am not fond of that feeling. Or I feel like I’m being tossed to and fro on waves and all I can do is tread water while they pass. Definitely feel like a poor swimmer at those times, which is no fun. But then the storm passes and I find I’m still breathing. All that treading helped me to develop strength, and I learn that the feeling of drowning is not actual drowning.
While comparing books with a friend recently, I mentioned the Count of Monte Cristo as the first novel I read that always stayed with me. I was in eighth grade when it was assigned and, although we were to read a chapter a week, I think I had it done in a week. I’m not surprised now, as it is so well-known even though it was published in 1844. There have been between 30 and 40 screen adaptations of the story as well.
I found this quote by the Count to be thought-provoking. It reminds me of the waves of life.
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.”
And the following one inspired my storm analogy. I have included a clip from a movie version.
“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you…”
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, 1844