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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Not to Lose When You're Alone, from my former high school self

The moon glows over the lone warrior, the lone Wolf, standing on the hill amidst the fallen lying in mounds, in rivers flowing down from his feet. Waiting, watching—IT will come tonight. Again—and this time, IT will be stronger. And this time, there is no support team, no back-up—just raw fate and feat, just muscle and wit and chance. When you are the only other person for 300 miles, you cannot run away.
Anyone who has fought for a worthy cause has experienced some aloneness or some sense of desperation—if not in the past, or now, it will happen later. Just as the only way to keep from experiencing pain is to tear out your sensory neurons, only people who avoid living altogether can avoid that place on the hill.
However, every person can prepare himself for conflict. “Iron sharpens iron”—we can become strong by becoming “we.” You can sharpen your iron on a rock, or rub it against a tree, or heat it again and again in a fire, but ultimately, you will benefit your cause more when you allow other people to help prepare you for your battles. Integrity and steadfastness are forged alone, in the silence and heat of the human heart—but the strength to wield them and the hope to maintain them comes from working together with other people.
After working and playing and solving problems with our group, when we find ourselves flung out into the world alone we discover that we have talents and answers that we did not have before. We may surprise ourselves. One person may be strong and clever—from a friend they may learn gentleness and wisdom. If we are humble and willing, we can accumulate the wealth of the world from the minds of our groups.
IT has arrived. IT tosses the bodies away as it runs up the hill. A swipe—blocked by that incredible technique picked up from training with Warrick. A downward slash—blocked by Luari’s scythe, followed up with a stab from Tansra’s gift spearhead. IT’s power is not to be underestimated—IT dodges, swirls, flies, leaps, rolls. Wolf ducks, hurls, twists, stabs. Suddenly, a slip of the foot on the wet evening grass, and the warrior is lying flat, facing the defeat he had expected but hoped so fiercely to overcome.
IT raises up, shining metal, glowing claws shimmering red in the shadows. IT strikes—
And rolls away dead. Wolf rises, grasping the hand of his Friend with astonishment, relief, and gratitude. She smiles and shrugs, “I learned that one from you.”
Because until the moon wanes completely and the hills become valleys, no one is ever completely alone.
And even then…

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