What will you fight for, and how?

by Starla J. King on February 5, 2014

I don’t like to fight.

I don’t like the propensity of battle metaphors in our society.

I don’t like the idea that in order to succeed (what does that really mean, anyway?), I need to get up on the front lines and start swinging my sharpest sword… so I can win while others lose.

So you can imagine my reaction when turning to Todd Henry‘s latest book (Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day) and reading the following:

Chapter 4: Define Your Battles
“Principle: To counter aimlessness, you must define your battles wisely, and build your life around winning them.”

Battle. Winning. Fighting.

Sigh.

So I put down the book, picked up my journal and started writing.

To my surprise, the first two sentences that came out were “What’s my fire?  What am I willing to fight for?” followed by an impassioned list of what I will fight for.  (Yes, I used those words: “I will fight for…” over and over again. This is an example of why we say we write in order to know ourselves)  

I felt that inner fire that fuels my strongest work, the part that says “DON’T F*** WITH MY PURPOSE,” the part that burns hot enough to put me into action well beyond my fears.  My inner Incredible Hulktress began to stir as I wrote:

I WILL FIGHT for the misunderstood (including myself).

I WILL FIGHT for the marginalized.

I WILL FIGHT for the one who refuses to just morph into the crowd of popular rights and wrongs.

I WILL FIGHT for our right to live happy, whole, fulfilled.

I WILL FIGHT for supporting one’s inner wisdom against the grain.

I WILL FIGHT for small victories being as important as huge goals.

I WILL FIGHT for the quiet, the unheard, the sensitive, the creative, the optimist.

Oh yes, I will fight; it just might look different than the typical battle scene.  I will fight with compassion.  I will fight with relentless insistence on seeing (and sharing) hope.  I will fight quietly, with fewer weapons and more bandages, but oh will I ever fight.

So as I gird my loins (that’s a battle phrase, right??) to step into the thick of things today, I leave you with Todd Henry’s questions and one of my own:

“What battle would you be willing to fight, anytime, for any reason? What triggers your primal instinct to act?”

… to which I would add, “and how will you fight?”

hawk in urban backyard

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet February 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Excellent questions. I relate more to a turkey buzzard than a hawk, especially when I see a hawk finishing off it’s kill, or I hear that a hawk tried to prey on one of our chickens. However, I passionately relate to some of your named causes and, as a mother, add fighting an injustice done to one of my children, or others’ children. For me the fight includes seeking the highest good for all and disregarding the criticism or backlash that may come my way. Thanks Starla for your inspiration!

Reply

Starla J. King February 6, 2014 at 9:46 am

Janet, thank you for sharing your “will fight fors”! Your sentence of “seeking the highest good for all and disregarding the criticism and backlash that may come my way” really stood out to me. Seeking the highest good for all. YES.

Re: the hawk, I hesitated with including that photo b/c of the very reasons you mentioned! 🙂 This guy (girl??) has visited us 3 times in the past week, luckily just sitting and watching.

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Tim Gray February 7, 2014 at 8:46 am

Have you ever seen the Mouse Guard comic?

“It’s not what we fight – it’s what we fight for.”

Reply

Starla J. King February 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

Tim, I just spend some delightful time on the Mouse Guard site — thank you for that tip! Yes, so perfectly fitting for this blog post.

You know what else I love? This quote on YOUR website: “A finer world, one colon at a time.”

Write on, fellow writer!

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angel February 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

i keep thinking about this. keep coming back and reading it. something’s really touching me here. i think b/c i’m remembering more & more a quiz i took within the last year. it categorized me as “the universal cop”. i was *SO* bummed b/c i just kept thinking… “that’s not me! i don’t want to be that!” but i’m finding that yes, in fact, i really am.

when people are doing 45 in a 15 as i’m driving my daughter to school, i become enraged. when i read about Michael Vick being hailed as a ‘hero’ & speaking before children for the Chamber of Commerce (Raleigh, NC)… i just want to break something. when i hear stories from my GLBTQ friends & family, i want to cry (and then fight).

so for me…. injustice makes me want to fight. and though i abhor violence, the types of things that i listed above are the very things that (were i ever to actually *become* violent) would drive me to it. injustice, to me, is unacceptable. (i absolutely get and understand the need for compassion/forgiveness/understanding, etc… but am being direct & admitting that those things are last on my mind with injustices i am aware of. i mean, the truth is that i won’t even kill a bug. i watch where i walk so i don’t step on ants. i refuse to kill a spider – or even a palmetto – that makes its way into the house!)

thanks so much for this thought-provoking writing! <3

Reply

Starla J. King February 11, 2014 at 9:49 am

Well hello, Universal Cop Angel (um, fitting combo: cop + angel). Thanks for coming back here and posting your thoughts/feelings.

So, when you’re not being driven to outright violence in response to those injustices you listed, what *are* you doing? How are you “fighting”?

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angel February 14, 2014 at 9:09 am

how am i fighting then? i guess by spreading the word about things that are wrong & hoping it’ll prompt others to consider what *they* would do, how they would react/behave. and by spreading the word when i see something being done *right*, because we need that even more. we need to see that there are other options, other ways of being & doing things…. 🙂

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