He was asked every time…every time that he could recall, anyway.
“Is this really the hill you want to die on, son?” This was his father, head so impossibly distant that to peg its details against the sky the boy had to squint.
“Yes,” the boy said each of those times, once he was sure he was looking his father in the eye, once he had squared his shoulders in a stance that he approximated as brave.
The boy was given this passive out in a myriad of situations and outright fuckups and still he said with his ‘yes’, I am not a quitter, I am not a coward, I would rather find myself foolish than forgotten. And he would continue to push headlong into mistakes that became lessons that became Knowing.
Wasn’t Knowing, after all, a mount worthy of shedding ones tears and guts upon?
One day, when the boy was of an age that he no longer had to cock back his head and squint to find his father’s eyes, an old woman approached him. He had been mindlessly tending the inventory of his hurts while seated on a bench beside a fountain. It was autumn, and the bare fingertips emerging from the wool tubes that fit snugly against the fingers’ knuckles worked at a corner of the boy’s jacket.
She shuffled across the wide brick walk, this stranger, until she stood facing him; the messy fluff of her hair busied itself defying the sobriety of the look on her face.
“God wants me to tell you,” the old woman said, “that you can stop fighting. Put those hands of yours down and let Him do your fighting for you. That heart of yours is for something else altogether.”
Later that night a brutal pain ripped across his chest as he sobbed into the phone’s receiver.
“Then she just walked away, leaving me with all this frustration! Leaving me right there where she found me, but taking my equilibrium with her! And I only had one question, just one, I just want to know how? How do I do that? How do I just stop fighting when I’ve had my dukes up the whole of my life and it’s all I fucking know?
“Why won’t He tell me how to do what it takes to achieve His desires instead of just telling me what His will for me is??”