In Retrospect

July 11, 2013
Updated: March 17, 2017

“From life’s school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger.”
―Friedrich Nietzsche

I haven’t fully appreciated what those words meant, prior to now. I have learned that aside from experience, there is another important aspect, that life teaches us—survival. When we are at the brink of collapse, breakdown, or even death, the most important things in our life flashes before our eyes.

When we take a lot of pain, and survive it, we will live to tell the tale. We will live to share the story for generations to come. When we endure, and embrace the necessary agony, we are forced to think in retrospect. We are then forced to perform analysis. We are then put into a position, wherein, we can no longer procrastinate about the next ideal thing to do. I realized, that when we survive the ordeal, something magical begins to happen. And as for me, it came in the form of a rude awakening.

Little did I know, that something critical was about to unfold. By not denying my state, I was able to embrace the reward. It dawned on me, that when I was able to gasp back for air, I have unlocked parts of myself that have remained unknown before. Slowly, like the rays of the sun in the morning, touching the water droplets on a leaf, I came to see myself, as if by seeing my reflection on a pond, for the first time. I found out that there have been many dormant parts of me, just waiting to be awakened.

At the apex of my agony, I have catapulted myself into self-destruction. Due to rage, I have pointed my fingers at my own self, without any forethought. I screamed at myself in contempt, putting all of the blame on my shoulders. The worst part of it was that I did them in haste. I was reckless, even to my own self. I didn’t know that I have already bred a whole colony of a single species of worm, that has already been eating me, from the inside, and manipulating me, to their own bidding. I have also even been tempted, many times, to create promises to myself, promises that eventually implied creating my own chaos and peril. I forgot to love my own self.

I have also asked myself, another important question. A question that ultimately yielded sleepless nights, anxiety, and the inability to fully grasp the immediate time and space, around me. I asked myself, “Was it worth doing it?” It seemed to me that time, that whenever I think about it, I open Pandora’s box. And somehow, I always convinced myself to open it, to see it for myself. I was very curious to know, what was in it, despite admonitions to my own self. Another curious soul, gave his two cents, advising me that that was the wrong question to ask. That I should seek for the correct answer, myself, as if trying to find my own way back home.

At one point, someone knocked on my door—it was regret. Despite his seemingly pitiful state, I declined to let him in, no matter how persistent he was. I knew that the moment I let him in, he’d feel immediately welcome for himself, and feel comfortable around the place, as if it was his, in the first place. Every time he knocked on my door, he asked if he was welcome. I boldly say no, every single time. Setting the figures aside, I would have told myself that had I not done it, I would have not experienced the pain. This is wrong in many ways, because had I not done it, I wouldn’t be there in the first place, to ask that question. The ability to ask that question was a testimony to the experience. Hindsight is 20/20.

I have frequently heard the phrase “You shouldn’t have given your everything.” That may have worked for them. That may have worked for their methods, but definitely not for me. Why? Because you won’t be able to explore your own limits if you are the one yourself who will put the limits, before you even explore. If you don’t strive hard enough, you won’t get anywhere. You’ll be stuck in the same place, forever. If you won’t give it your best shot for every chance that you get, your actions will easily fall in the category of mediocrity. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing it well.

Our minds and bodies react to stimuli, and this also applies to its meta-components, like our well-being, and mindset. When we over-train our bodies, chances are, we’ll experience an injury. However, when we train our bodies, near our limits, at the brink of breakage, we become stronger. So, knowing our limits is crucial to our growth. Knowing when to stop is highly significant if we want to go past our previously-held limits. That, by tip-toeing near our breaking points, we unlock a greater potential.

Armed with more knowledge, I am now more eager, to face any challenge, even if it means braving a storm. I will cross my old boundaries, even if it means getting wounded, again. I will dare the demons to come right at me, for I will make them experience a thousand deaths. Every time I will get knocked down, I will get back up again to continue the fight. I will hit hard, harder than than my last strike, as long blood courses through my body, and as long as I feel the tangible air of my breath.

In closing, I’d like to leave these words:

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.”
―Charles Bukowski