Wearing a full Medieval suit of armor every day may offer us protection from some harm, but it’s certainly not practical. Our mobility would be sacrificed, our sight would be limited, no one would be able to see us, and we would still be susceptible to emotional harm. It’s a great deal of effort for a false sense of security. Although we’d be concealed by this shell of armor, it’s really only protect us from a small variety of threats. Life is neither a joust nor a sword fight. But, it’s a battle nonetheless. The emotional susceptibility is our metaphoric Achilles’ heel. We are most vulnerable where no weapon can harm us. One cannot be stabbed in their sadness, loneliness, anxiousness, insecurity, shame, guilt, etc.
The goal is to be completely visible. To allow others to see us as we are. The protection we seek is found in the daily practice of doing right. Not worrying about being right – just doing right. Focusing on our choices, which when made with reason provide the best protection. The confidence of knowing we are unable to be harmed by what’s outside of our control, unless we choose to be.
Let us look to a freshly waxed car for a better metaphor for armor. We all know the feeling of driving away after going through the car wash. Car is clean and waxed, tires are shiny, RainX on the windshield. Confidence is boosted. We’re looking good! We’re even secretly excited for the next time it rains. We want to see the rain bead-up and roll-off. That’s a life goal, isn’t it? Living with the knowledge we are protected by our reasoned choice to the point where daily obstacles simply bead-up and roll-off. Like wax, it’s an invisible top coat. Challenges still come at us – they will happen. The goal is not to learn to either avoid problems or invite harm, but to live without fear that what’s outside our control can penetrate to an emotional nerve. To get excited when we face challenges, because we know we will learn from our mistake and let the bothersome simply bead-up and roll-off.
“Anger is a gift” is a lyric from Rage Against the Machine’s song “Freedom.” True, since the ability to feel a wide spectrum of emotions is a gift of being human. However, like all emotions, it’s what we choose to do with it that speaks more to whether or not it is a gift. It’s situational. If we are using anger to motivate our own actions in opposition of what angers us, then yes, it is a gift. Anger can give us the gift of perspective to see how we don’t want to be, because we get to see how others whom habitually act in anger truly are. But is anger a gift we long to receive? Anger is defined as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” Who wants this gift…other than Batman? I’m not speaking of extreme situations where anger blurs the line between law and justice. If anger is used to fuel our actions against others, this is not a gift. The true gift is learning how we can choose to not energize the anger because we know it will not enhance our day. This is not weakness. Choosing to avoid what knowingly makes you angry is the same as choosing to walk around a giant puddle. It’s a healthy avoidance tactic. Anger is as much an inconvenience as a soaking wet sock.
The word “snowflake” has been weaponized in recent years. We’ve moved away from the expression about how no two snowflakes are alike as being an innocent metaphor of uniqueness to something more malicious. To preface, my use of the word in this post is the former – speaking to uniqueness.
As an analogy, snowflakes and a snowstorm serve as an accurate reminder of reality. Yes, we are all unique. Yes, we are all human. And yes, we are all headed to same destination: the ground. We have one journey, one storm so to speak. A storm is defined as “a violent disturbance of the atmosphere or a tumultuous reaction.” All the beauty we know is due to the fact that we too have a keen understanding of the brutal intensity of life. There’s beauty in realizing that all the things we do to preoccupy ourselves with the notions of our uniqueness don’t matter. There’s foolishness in believing that uniqueness is synonymous with importance. Our actions determine our importance.
We often feel that practice is what we do in preparation for something we want to do well. If we don’t do it well, we practice to do it better. However, we tend to overlook that practice is the game. Regardless of how we’ve used it, we’ve all uttered the phrase, “I know better than that.” And we do! We do know better, but knowing better is meaningless without action.
Practice – Practice is knowing better in action. Practice is defined as “the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use,” and as “the repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”
The goals we seek are merely wishes without discipline. Discipline is simply defined as “the practice of training.” The goals we set are simply the time bound assessments of how well we practiced.
We need nothing more than to do the things we know better to do!