At a recent book signing event, an older gentleman approached my table. As he picked up my book he asked “What is the meaning of this, Fabulously Fighting, I am assuming you have cancer?” I responded, “Yes, I have cancer and have been fighting for 12 years.” To which he responded, “Well I had cancer and I didn’t fight it and it didn’t fight me. Fighting is for boxing.” He slammed my book down on the table and proceeded on his way. I was dumbfounded and PISSED! I have really thought about why he made me so angry and why, to this day, I am still bothered by his words.
I have come to realize that I felt dismissed, like my 12 year journey was meaningless in the presence of Mr. Charming and his personal experience with cancer. I have never met another person who has faced adversity, whether it be cancer or something else, and thought that their story and their experience wasn’t important. Whatever adversity that you have faced or are facing, it is a part of your journey and your story. It means something, it changes you, it becomes part of who you are. I think part of my anger was because I did not stand up for myself or for the countless others that put one foot in front of the other, get off the couch and attempt to be a functioning part of society on a daily basis despite the pain, despair or desperation they are feeling. I felt helpless, like I just took it, and didn’t hold my own or better yet, challenge his point of view.
I wonder how that conversation with Mr Charming would have went, there at my book table.
“Excuse me sir, what exactly do you mean? Are you saying that an unshakeable will to live and die hard perseverance are something less than a boxing match? Or are you implying that it is something so much more?”
“Well Miss Fabulous, I am glad that you asked because I think that the word fight cheapens the literal blood, sweat and tears that you, and others overcoming such adversity, put into every single day.”
Ya, ok, it probably wouldn’t have been anything like that and actually may have ended with one of us being escorted out of the store. What it boils down to, is that your journey to overcome whatever is in front of you is yours to define. My interaction with Mr. Charming may have been focused on the semantics of “fighting”, but really it represented what I took to be his definition of the last 12 years of my life. Why do we let others do this? Why do we let them define us, our journey, our struggle and our happiness?
My exchange with Mr. Charming happened at the end of July and I am still thinking about it. I even looked up the definition of fight, saddened to see the first definition was “involving the exchange of physical blows or the use of weapons”, but relieved to see that additional meanings included struggle and battle. Is this really about a word? No, it is about the meaning I have assigned to that word and my disappointment that one person could so quickly shake my confidence. We can be so quick to judge or dismiss others, downplaying their struggle, comparing ourselves to them and their journey. We do this as a way of appeasing our own insecurities and demons; trying to lift ourselves up. If we want to live our best life, we must conquer those demons and not merely appease them. We must be true to ourselves and be unshakeable in our reasoning behind why we are on this journey.
Today, nearly five weeks after that brief interaction at my book table, I choose to focus not on the words exchanged, but rather on my reaction and why I felt that way. I choose to look deep inside myself, to the root cause of that reaction and to focus my energy on overcoming that demon. Our journeys are for us to define and sometimes the mountain in our way is of our own creation.
“Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.” – Ezra Taft Benson
All my best to you my Fabulous Fighters,