I've never really enjoyed fighting. And while I know there might be some folks who come to a different conclusion, depending on their experience of me, the reality is that while I certainly did Hone some skills in the art of argumentation, I've always actually hated what it's cost me to fight. Which brings me to the question, what is worth fighting for? And the truth of the matter is, for the most part, I've lacked a really clear or wisely discerned answer to that question. I could reason the question on a large scale and say things like racial justice is worth fighting for, affordable healthcare is worth fighting for, or clean water is worth fighting for. But when it comes to answering that question, on the scale of my life, my limited life, things get quite a bit foggy here. I've boiled some of the important bits of wisdom I've gained in this area of my life down to these two short poems. The first reads some battles should be lost. That is, sometimes, the best way forward. Losing battles has opened me not only to the wisdom and goodwill of others who are not like me but softened me internally. And now I'd rather listen. Even when I think I'm right, even through someone's rage, to see and to hear and experience what's truly at hand in this other person, because through all the push and the pull over all these years, I look back now. And I see myself sitting across from some brilliant humans with whom I have some disagreements about things that mattered to them as humans. The second bit of wisdom grows from there, and the poem reads, The most regrettable losses of my life are battles I ignored while fighting the ones I shouldn't have been fighting. This came into my life by way of a mentor's advice. During a season in which I was thoroughly exhausted from many battles, he told me that just because there's a hill doesn't mean you should die on it. Maybe you shouldn't even climate unless you know someone up there already. So maybe you've been in or around a large room when the energy of that room shifts to the tension and the shuffle of a fight breaking out. Part of how I learned to know that something was important or worth my attention was that there was anger and strife around it. Tech, that's how the news works, right? Everything has a tinge of discord, or at least as a light threat to it. And that's how we know that it's important because tension, anger, and violence communicate importance. But to add to the strange analogy, I just started with while I'm across the room trying to break up a fight between drunk roommates, acting a fool, and being stupid. I've left the people I initially committed my time to the people I know. The question 'what is worth fighting for?' has taken me on two parallel paths on the one through wins and especially losses. I've become an I am becoming a very different person—one who just isn't fascinated by or drawn to the energy of the war or the fight. I mean, I know I can fight. I've done it a lot. I just don't want to unless I know it's worth it. And even winning doesn't make it worth it. Relationships, and people make it worth it. On the other path, I'm embracing the limited nature of my energies and my time on the planet, that if they're battles worth fighting, if there are wars worth getting into, part of what will make them worth fighting is that there are names real names attached to those battles and in those wars.
The loss and the disintegration of the religious community I called home for nearly 20 years came with a long list of complicated analyses and reasons, and diagnoses. It was ideas and methodologies. Over time, the need or the desire to make sense of what had happened took a backseat to the deep comfort of sharing that life experience with other human beings. As it turns out, it is the shared experience of life with other people that makes any plan or any idea worth executing, to have fought for a good plan or a beautiful idea. And last and then, on the other side of that last battle, to look up and more fully see the people I’ve been fighting with, and fighting for, or even fighting against. It has often been the sting of loss that snapped my mind. And that kind of clarity and pain can sharpen the mind and demand focus on what matters. I don’t think I’m alone in that, which is why I wrote the song war stories. I think there are a lot of us right now stumbling and wandering, bleary-eyed, around the empty spaces of our last battles, the places where our good plans and our beautiful ideas used to exist, and I think it might be enough that we’re in that space together. After all, what was the intention of having made the plan or sharing the idea to begin with? If not to gather with other people with whom we agreed and, yes, with whom we disagreed, wasn’t connected with other people, the hope to begin with? What if, in order to more deeply and humanly connect, our hands had to be empty of ideas, and of plans, and of quote, things to fight for? What if we had to fall out of love with our schemes and our methodologies in order to fall in love once again, or for the first time with the people who make those schemes and methodologies and causes worth anything at all?
Links For Justin:
NEW Single – Let Go
NEW Music – The Dood and The Bird
Order the new book – It Is What You Make it