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when the battle’s lost and won

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” ~Margaret Thatcher

There are often things in life that go on, unseen. Moments. Declarations. Bits of truth that eek out when on one is there to look on. Things unwitnessed by the world at large. This can be a sacred thing, truly. Some wars are fought in the same way: unnoticed. This can be a quiet start, a secret siege, a truly kept promise. That kind of thing is no one’s business but your own. Not all things are meant for a public parade.

As Thatcher alluded, some wars are over in a moment. But some? Some are a long fight in the dark. A star held in the hand. Some struggles persist throughout the years. And the only way to lose the fight is to walk away from it.

Good things are not easily gained. The things are that are hard won are a special kind of wonder. Yes, this might result in a few more scars. It might make you a little gunshy, sometimes. You might have some strange flashbacks of moments you’d rather forget. Only, everything we’ve done and said has led us to right here and right now. Everything.

I like the idea that every moment is a fresh start. A chance to begin. A new possibility. A place to issue a challenge.

The thing about a battle, though, is that you have to know what you’re fighting for. It isn’t enough to simply parry a thrust. It isn’t enough to merely dig your heels in. You have to know what you are hoping to gain. You also should know what the other side is hoping for. This is everything. If you’re fighting a war without any parameters, without any terms, than what exactly are you doing?

Admittedly, there are many ways to fight. Everyone fights differently. Most of the time, I try to fight cleanly. I could, at any given moment, throw gasoline on the lot and light it with a flamethrower. But what would that solve, except to burn a bridge and turn everything to ash? When fighting, it’s always wise to fight above the belt, to tackle the issue at hand, and not to use things that should not be weapons. People aren’t pawns. Circumstances aren’t reasons.

There are times where it feels like the battle’s lost. And most people throw in the towel, toss up their hands, and concede. But a battle isn’t a war. And a battle’s only lost when there’s nothing left to fight for. I’ve said this before, but we all decide what fights we walk away from. It’s also a choice. But it is also not a choice that should be made out of fear. Some people are worth running toward, always. Some things are worth the sacrifice. You choose, and then you do. Words are pretty things. And yet, often what you do speaks louder than you can ever imagine. Actions and emotions, together in a whirlwind, count for more than what you’ve said. Or not said.

I’ve never walked away from a good fight. Even when that might’ve been considered conventionally wise. Conventional wisdom can be quite droll. I’ve known people — one in particular — who couldn’t make up his mind what he should fight for. He was, essentially, at war with himself. One minute, the choice was one thing. The next, it was the opposite. This, I suppose, is what happens when the heart and the head are at war — when, perhaps, one measures one’s decision by should and shouldn’t. But my thinking is always that if one is that conflicted — if one says one thing but does/feels another repeatedly — it means something. Usually it means more than one is willing to admit. When you are fighting with yourself — as he often does — you can’t really hide. You’re always in your own head/heart. And shoving it under the rug, denying that there’s a struggle, will only result in a temporary armistice. The war doesn’t necessarily vanish because you’ve turned around, turned your back on it. Eventually, the bullets start flying again, and you find yourself in a very familiar foxhole.

I’m not one to fight idly. I don’t walk into the fray without consideration. And I certainly never do it half-heartedly. I’m a whole heart kind of girl, when it comes to fighting, loving, and deciding. There is no in-between. No notion of halves. There is everything, all in — always. Which, as I’ve confessed in the past, makes me a terrible poker player. Wretched. Abysmal. An easy mark. But when it comes to risking everything, it’s a fair bet if I hope to gain everything. That is a good rule to live life by. You cannot have one foot in both places. And you cannot fight without your heart being in it. The best way to decide what to do, then, is to figure out where your heart lies. Not your duty or responsibility. Not your status or your expectations. Not should. Not have to. Those words are quick kills, at best.

Figure out where your heart lives and breathes — find the place that little monster sings and dances. That is your battleground. That is where you fight. And that is why you fight.

What are you fighting for, right now, darlings? And if you’re not fighting for something: why not?

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