Go Start a Fight
Carnival of the Disillusioned and Enlightened

The Riddle of Will

In my favorite park, there is a large set of stairs leading up a mountain formation. I hike up regularly, but never sprint this section of the park. Yesterday - without any planning or foresight - I decided to sprint the hill.

At first the run was easy. My strides were long. A clean breeze whisked by. My lungs were opening up. The dogs were smiling. We were invigorated.

After the first series of steps, the hill got steeper. The once-open lungs felt like they were closing. My lungs started hurting. My strides shortened. I was wearing Levis, and could feel them tightening next to my lactic-acid and blood engorged thighs. "This is fucking stupid," I thought, "Why do this?"

"There is nothing special about reaching the top of this hill. It's just some arbitrary goal you set for yourself. You don't win any prizes or lose anything if you stop. Fuck it, why bother.

Aren't all goals arbitrary? Why this hill? What's the point? What is fascinating isn't the questions themselves, but the timing of the questions.

When something is easy, or everything is going as you planned and expected, we never ask, "What's the point? Isn't this arbitrary?" It's only when the trail leads upward - when shit gets real - that we question the point and motivation.

Earlier today I told someone that when no one else wants to fight, I fight myself. She answered that, "there are times I'd really like a good fight. But frequently it's not worth the trouble. Not even with myself." 

I kept running up the mountain. There was the taste of blood in my mouth. It felt like acid was circulating through my lungs. My legs felt so heavy that I almost fell down, as the run upward felt like a controlled trip rather than bounding steps. My gums ached. I could ear the pounding of the blood vessels around my skull, and felt like I was about to pass out.

"Why keep going? This is stupid. I have to lift later, and really shouldn't tire myself out. This is going to fuck up my squat workout. Let's just stop.

There is a point. The point is that I exist. I must live with myself and live in a world that is often unfriendly - and is always uncaring. Neither you Nature nor God cares whether I live or die. It is up to me to create my reality.

Creating reality presupposes a creator. How can you shape anything if you cannot even shape yourself?

I didn't stop running. I made it to the top of the hill, exhausted. I didn't allow myself to fall down, although even standing was difficult. My body was overload with lactic acid, and even my saliva burned. It was miserable.

But I won.

Every battle you win against yourself strengthens you will. Your will is a sword.

The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle.... You must learn its discipline. For no one - no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. [Points to sword] This you can trust.

Maybe today isn't the day you will strike someone. The day you must will come. Will you be ready?