I sat on the bleachers in the dark. They were too low to the floor and my knees were too high. The blue outside light of a gray sky was the only suggestion of light and it was too far away to show me much detail of the mat before me. But I traced the lines with tired eyes, squinting as one deep in thought.
“This is what we do,” said the voice. “Come on. Let’s fight.”
I did not look up. I did not reply. I just sat and stared at the lines on the mat.
“Come on,” repeated the voice. “Fight me.”
I thought about that. I thought about wrestling with that voice. I thought about the nagging and sly way that it made itself something worth fighting. As if I had to prove myself. I considered the fight. I would entertain that voice, engage with it… only to find it a weakling and easily beat it.
And it would bounce up off the mat the moment I got up to declare my victory and challenge me again. So we would dance. So we would fight. All day long. And I would beat it every single time…
Until the time I couldn’t move any more. Until the time I couldn’t fight. Until the point I came to the end of me and it pinned me underneath all of the things I used to believe about myself.
“No,” I said to myself. “I will not fight.”
The taunts began. The jeers and rants. The drenching, ugly effect of the most unlovely and unworthy words. How they tried to cover me and clothe me – I wanted to fight!
I wanted to fight. For a moment.
Then I remembered. And I stood up and walked toward the door of the gym. I pushed it open and stepped into the bitter winter wind and the thousands of pin pricks of a freezing, driving rain. I heard the howling of creation. I saw the churning of a gray sky. I let myself relax into something bigger and greater and more terrible and beautiful and wondrous than I could imagine.
I closed my eyes. I let the rain fall and the wind howl and the sky twist over upon itself.
How could I fight on such a beautiful day?