How To Fight - A Personal Reflection On Now
The universe has a wild way of bringing you what you need when you need it. For this to happen, you have to believe this, you should not expect it and you should embrace it when it find it.
Madeline brought this home for me on Sunday. She was out with her boys, and she stopped in a local bookshop, and for whatever reason, she says it jumped out at her. We love books. There are a lot of them around. In our shared office space. In the living room. Next to our bed. One of the things I love about Madeline is that she loves collecting books. It’s not something I take for granted, but I’ll admit, she’s brought books home before, and I’ve only half paid attention when gifted them a few times. This book was different.
How To Fight by Thich Nhât Hanh has magically found my hands at the perfect time. Its short chapters for the beginner (that’s me, folks) on a journey of mindfulness make for quick reading and are a light touch in busy days between chasing my son Sam, training our puppy Mavis, and, importantly, picking up the pieces of my life that need repair.
I’ll be the first to admit that I should be reading Tolstoy or Dickens or Dostoevsky, but these bite-sized chunks of mindfulness practice are landing in my head and heart deeply.
What I’ve appreciated in this book is that because the chapters are short in length but dense in ideas, I have plenty of time left to contemplate my life journey and my unwillingness to fight for myself at times I definitely should have.
It’s an awful feeling to have given up on one’s self. I don’t remember when I gave up on myself; it was a slow and eventual conclusion I believed I deserved. Giving up became familiar. Giving up was comforting, like a mouthful of red wine and the warm hug it gives you when you swallow it. It was too hard to fight anymore; giving up was easy. It was so easy. Allowing the world and people to crash like waves swallowing me, drowning me, me drowning myself.
Eventually, giving up means life and what you remember it being before giving up collapses around you. You look around, and you don’t recognize anything or anyone.
It’s hard to see straight.
The worst part, it’s all your own doing.
At the end of April 2022, my life collapsed around me.
The rubble around me, still on fire, fallen apart, pieces everywhere, seemed too deep to climb out of. Slowly I began to recognize the rubble around me as the self-destruction and the pain I’ve caused myself and others. The rubble, in my case, is infidelity, seeking attention where I shouldn’t have, and lying. Giving up meant I hurt myself and others. For that, I am sorry.
I don’t want to give up on myself anymore. I am picking up and caring for the pieces of me that are broken, as ugly as they are.
I’m in therapy now. I’m climbing out of the rubble.
In time, I’ll forgive myself for giving up on myself.
I’ll apologize. I’ll make amends.
I’m learning how to fight now.
I will fight.
For me. My children. My partner. My family. I’ll fight for everyone fighting for me, for everyone who hadn’t given up on me when I gave up on myself.
I will fight.
About Thich Nhât Hanh
*Thích Nhất Hạnh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lived in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He was often considered the most influential living figure in the lineage of Lâm Tế (Vietnamese Rinzai) Thiền, and perhaps also in Zen Buddhism as a whole.
Wow, this is timely for me. A friend recently recommended Thích Nhất Hạnh.
I have a question; why do you feel that you "should be reading Tolstoy or Dickens or Dostoevsky"?
I enjoy reading your posts. I'm new to Substack. And I feel that I should comment at least once if I like a writer's works. You are fighting the 'good' fight!
Peace & Blessings,
"Guided by the Ancestors"