I have heard the stories of my opponent over and over, how he is cunning, baffling and powerful. I see the signs as I sit with the other solders discussing strategies, the signs that say "take it slow" and "don't give up".
As I watch my opponent, I think about my training with the other solders, the pep talks and the heartfelt conversation over endless pots of coffee. The long hours studying our manuals and preparing for battle. I think about the ones that didn't make it, the ones that trained so hard and yet somehow fell prey to the enemy.
The questions start, they seem to have no end. How did this war ever start? Why am I in this battle? Why was I chosen? What are my family and friends on the outside doing? Why are they not here with me? Do they even realize this is war?
My enemy has allies. Sometimes they do not even realize they are allies. Sometimes my enemy turns on his allies and they find themselves right beside me in the trenches. As the battle cries on, I start to understand more and more about my worthy opponent. I learn his many strengths and his few weaknesses.
The battle continues and I finally start to realize how much my enemy has gotten inside my head, how he has infiltrated me and broke through my defenses. Before long I find myself over powered, weak and scared. I start to question my decisions for choosing the side I am on. I consider defecting and joining my enemy, still knowing he will eventually turn on me just as he always has in the past. I start to look around, getting lost in my own thoughts and delusions.
I turn to my team but quickly realize I am all alone. At first I thought they had turned back and left me, but the truth is I am the one who took the wrong turn. While sinking down into my fears and insecurities I look up to see my enemy standing in front of me, staring me down. This is it, moment of truth! I know he is more powerful than me and I know I cannot beat him on my own.
Do I surrender? Do I call for backup and risk others getting hurt? I hesitate as I have so many times, wondering if I will lose again because of my hesitation.
As I see the sweat rolling down my enemy's neck, I slowly reach to draw my weapons, but I have no defense left for this opponent. In a moment of clarity, I realize what I must do.
With my eyes closed tight and fist clinched I call for my leader and ask for help. I stand there shaking, confused and scared, wondering if he will send rescue one more time.
With uncertainty overwhelming me and fear drowning out all other emotions, I see them out of the corner of my eye. They stand strong beside me and tell me my enemy will not win today. With the strength of the army that stands beside me, I reach for my enemy and in an instant slam him against the wall! Still shaken by fear I watch my shattered opponent pour out onto the floor.
I felt a chill as I savor the sweet taste of victory, yet I also feel humbled when my more experienced teammates remind me that the war is not over, nor will it ever be. As I meet with my leader to discuss my mistakes and his plan to help me avoid making them again, he reminds me not to stray from the team, the enemy will always find me.
With my hurt pride, tired soul and scattered mind, I thank him for his guidance and I vowed to try harder. As I am reminded by one of the senior solder that the battle will resume tomorrow and my enemy is now inside me, I realize once again I have found my serenity, just for today.
Copyright © 2009 Steve Houchin
I have learned many life lessons by making mistakes and I strive hard not to make the same mistakes over and over again. I encourage all to live life to its fullest and remember it is a journey, not a destination.