I used to fight it. Even though it was futile (the outcome, i.e., not-winning, had been predetermined from the very beginning) I fought it. Because not fighting it was surrendering. And surrendering, obviously, was death. So I fought it. I fought it any way that I could. I fought it dirty. I fought it clean. But it didn’t matter. I always lost. So I decided to not fight it.
Not fighting it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Before, I’d put so much energy into fighting it that I hadn’t had time to think about anything else. Back when I was fighting it, I’d thought about new strategies I could employ when fighting it, and I thought about strategies I could employ to keep from having to fight it at all. Not fighting it, however, used very little energy. Not fighting it, actually, gave me time to think.
My favorite thought to think back when I was not fighting it—the thought that kept me sane—was that I wasn’t special. That there were others like me. Others who had once been fighting it, but who had come, like me, to realize that they could also no longer fight it. How many people in the eight billion peopled world were also not fighting it? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? I tried to picture them not fighting it. Sometimes, I could feel the collective stillness we made, the non-fighters, the army of not-fighting others. I wondered how many of the non-fighters were thinking about other non-fighters, and if I, in some vague and nameless and unknowable way, was not fighting in someone else’s head, making their not fighting more bearable.
This isn’t to say that there weren’t times when I wanted to fight it. Because every time was a time I wanted to fight it. Every time was a time I had to fight to not fight it.
The problem was this: not fighting it had changed the way I felt about fighting it, but it hadn’t changed the fact that there was something to fight. Eventually, not fighting it grew just as tiresome as fighting it had been. Not fighting it had worked for a long time. Not fighting it had, for a while, sustained me. Then, not fighting it no longer seemed revolutionary. Not fighting it had lost its power. Not fighting it had lost its appeal. Its charm.
What I realized: not fighting it was not the opposite of fighting it. The opposite of fighting it was loving it. I didn’t love it. I never could, never would. Loving it was impossible. But giving the impression of loving it, this seemed possible. However horrifying, giving the impression of loving it seemed like the next step in a natural progression.
The problem was that I had no idea how to really give the impression of loving it. I was no dummy. I’d seen others—or representations of others—acting as though they loved it. Giving this impression, the impression of loving it, would take practice.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself fighting hard to give the impression of loving it. There was, I admit, something invigorating—something empowering, even—about this. I had gained control. I could now fight not by not fighting it but by giving the impression of loving it. Of needing it.
It worked. The impression I gave of loving it was accepted as true.
Giving a false impression—the impression of loving it—bestowed upon me a kind of power. It freed me. It allowed me to think about fighting it in entirely different terms. Giving the impression of loving it—that is, giving a false impression, creating an illusion—inspired me. Giving the impression of loving it gave me confidence. I wanted to do something. I wanted to do something unprecedented. I wanted to speak. I wanted to make words—transformative words, words that people would put their trust in—come out of my mouth.
I had never spoken in this way before—not when fighting it, not when not fighting it, and not when giving the impression of loving it—and I didn’t know how. But now, emboldened by giving the false impression of loving it, I told myself I could do it. It was a terrifying moment, a moment when I might’ve been forced to go back to fighting it, to ruining the progress I’d made. Finally, I tried it. I opened my mouth to speak. But no words came out. My mouth didn’t—wouldn’t—work. At least not in that way.
I would like to tell you that, in the end, and despite the odds, I won. That I finally succeeded in my fight to fight it, that the vanquished became the vanquisher, and I emerged victorious. And I suppose I could tell you that story. Not with my mouth, maybe, but I could always write it down. It would be a rousing tale, full of grit and gore, the kind parents might pass along to their children, in the hopes that after reading it they might feel overcome with gratitude because these children have nothing to fight, or to inspire these children to “keep up the good fight!” should they find themselves in a position that requires them to fight it. But I can’t help thinking that, even in a story like this, the truth would find a way to make itself known: i.e., that once you take up fighting it, you can’t stop. You can change how you fight it—you can employ new tactics, embrace new strategies—but nothing can change the fact that you are a fighter, and that you will always be fighting it. And that even when the fighting seems to be coming to a close, when your tongue thrums with the taste of the blood of your enemy, you will arrive at a realization that is as sublime as it is terrifying: your days of fighting it have only just begun.
[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/vollmer.html]
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