Words to Love: Let's Get Aggressive

 
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Maybe it’s all the Muay Thai, but I’ve been feeling aggressive lately. Not in I want to punch you in the face aggressive (although, some people… that’s a joke), but in The Network aggressive as in, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

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Truly, I’m not mad. However, in certain arenas of my life, I’ve reached this plateau where I find myself saying to myself- fish or cut bait. 

I’ve touted intrepidity before (see post here), but there’s something more that comes after that first bold step or leap. Something none of us really likes: WAITING

There’s a desert period, a wilderness excursion that we embark on from Point A (Intrepid Leap of Faith) to Point B (Arrival at Destination). And, guess what, it’s not fun. It’s a time where you really see what you’re made of; it’s the time most people give up. 

So what do you do in your wilderness? That’s right. You guessed it. You get aggressive. 

That’s what vision boards, dream journals, and goal posters and all that mother loving jazz is all about. When you’re in your wilderness, actively pursuing your dreams with no tangible results, and you go up to your vision board and remind yourself of all the hopes and plans you committed to for the future, you’re giving your self-pity prone person a metaphorical punch in the face. The reminder is aggressive. 

 When a dreamer claims territory in her land, she has to maintain her ground. That's what it is to live in the land of dreamers. Holding ground. 

When a dreamer claims territory in her land, she has to maintain her ground. That's what it is to live in the land of dreamers. Holding ground. 

It’s the flag you’ve planted. It’s territory you’ve claimed in yourself, and once you’ve claimed territory, you have to maintain your ground. You can’t give your enemy an inch. 

Enemy? Who’s your enemy? Ah, dear readers, you know these enemies well: doubt, insecurity, fear. They are robbers. Thieves. And no one can stop them but YOU. 

Here’s the word I’m hoisting on my petard:

STEADFAST

1. Fixed or secure in position.
a. Of a person, esp. a soldier in battle: Maintaining his ground. (Now with mixture of sense A. 2) †Also, of a battle: Fought without change of position.
b. Fixed in abode. Obs. rare.
c. Of a thing, e.g. a pillar, a foundation: Firmly fixed, not to be moved or displaced. Also in fig. context. Obs. exc. in rhetorical language (of the earth, etc.).
2. Of persons: Unshaken, immoveable in faith, resolution, friendship, etc. Also said of belief, purpose or affection.

One of my favorite tales as a child was Hans Christian Anderson’s The Steadfast Tin Soldier. It chronicles the mis-adventures of the last tin soldier in a brotherhood of tin soldiers made from the same spool of tin. When the time came to craft the last soldier, the tin ran short leaving him with only one leg. However, he stands just as steady and firm on his one leg as his brothers do on their two. In the nursery where he lives are a host of other toys. One toy in particular is rather grand, a cardboard castle where a beautiful ballerina lives. The tin soldier sees the ballerina, a lovely spangle around her neck, and feels instant kinship: she, too, stands steadfast on one leg. Hiding himself behind another toy, he escapes being put to bed with his brothers in their box. So, when the household goes to sleep, he is present when the other toys come to life. But, he doesn’t join in their play. He just stands there, gazing on the one whom his heart loves, until a jack-in-the-box makes an appearance and curses him for his audacity. For how could one so undeserving and imperfect as he be worthy of such beauty and grace? 

 This version is my favorite. 

This version is my favorite. 

Through a series of unfortunate events, the tin soldier falls out a window, gets sent down a storm drain in a paper boat, and then swallowed by a fish. The next thing he knows, he’s cuts out of the belly of the fish by the cook who just happens to work in the household where his boy lives. He’s returned to the nursery and where he once more can see his ballerina. Yet, in another twist of fate, he’s thrown into the fire. As his beautiful painted uniform burns off and the heat increases, he stands steadfast and strong because he can still see his ballerina, his heart’s desire. She catches the wind and flies to him, where she’s quickly consumed in the flames. But, the next morning, when the maid cleans the ashes, she finds a small tin heart with a single spangle embedded at the center, the final melding of the steadfast tin soldier and his ballerina. 

I think I loved this story because I was a ballerina for so long. But, returning to it now, I see a profound truth sifted into the story. 

The steadfast tin soldier never wavered where his heart’s desire was concerned. Even when he was in the dank, dark sewers encountering rats and other frightening things, he let his thoughts dwell on her, deriving strength from her memory. Even on his Jonah day, when he thought his fate sealed in the belly of a fish, the thought of being reunited with her carried him through. She was the great desire of his heart. The one thing he wanted most in life was to stand and behold her. 

Now, let’s juxtapose this. The ballerina is your dream, encompassing all the grand desires of your heart. You are the steadfast tin soldier. But, you’re not seeing your dream come to fruition. Maybe your in that paper boat, traversing the murky, brackish waters of the sewers. Perhaps you’ve encountered a menacing rat. Maybe you feel like you’ve been swallowed by the fish; you’re watching your hopes disappear in the darkness. Or, perhaps, you feel like you’ve been thrown into the fire. 

The tin soldier didn’t plan on any of these adventures or how dire his circumstances would become. He didn’t want to go into his wilderness, where his dream seemed forever removed from him. But, all through his trials, he kept the ballerina preeminent in his mind. And even when he thought her lost to him forever as the flames lapped, melting him down slowly, it was actually quite the opposite. For, in the flames, it was where he and his ballerina were united for all time, and his greatest wish fulfilled. 

That is why the tin soldier is called steadfast. At all times, he held his ground. He did not waver. He remained firmly fixed in his heart, holding to his desire, and in the end, he achieved it. 

Being steadfast is an aggressive stance. It means you make a stand against all odds. In the Greek, to stand is stenai; it’s a military term that means to maintain a critical or strategic position on the battlefield. You’ve heard love is a battlefield (see post here); well, so is life. And you need to fight for your dreams. It’s that simple and that complex at the same time. I say complex because sometimes fighting for your dreams is downright hard.  

Sometimes you have to fight to remain steadfast. It’s a labor. It’s not easy. And that’s why you must be aggressive in your stance. 

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I’m in the waiting right now, and there are very real moments when I need to sit myself down and remind myself of the decisions I have made in the pursuit of my dreams. Those conversations aren’t always easy. Sometimes I don’t want to be reminded of a hope that I’m not seeing manifested. Sometimes I’m just tired of waiting. Sometimes I want to find a little oasis where I can buy a map and get myself out of this wilderness. However, I can’t trudge a path someone else has walked. My dreams are mine, not someone else’s. I have to forge ahead and chart my own course.

That’s why I’m getting aggressive. That’s why I’m mad as hell. And that’s why I’m not going to take this anymore. What am I not going to take?  

Doubt. Insecurity. Fear. 

When any of these three attack, I will stand steadfast and maintain my strategic position. I will be aggressive in resisting them. 

Your mind is a powerful thing. Any change you will ever affect in your life will start in your mind. It will start with a decision. 

So, I’ve decided, I’m gonna go all in on my dreams. I decided that a while ago, to be honest. But, it’s in the waiting period that decision’s getting tested. My resolves being stretched. 

When a sword is being forged, it goes through shaping and reshaping. At the start, it’s a piece of blunt steel that has to be heated and reheated, hammered and rehammered before it is shaped into what it is meant to be. So, while you’re waiting, doing the things you know need to be done (for me that’s writing consistently everyday- see this post about how important consistency is), know that you’re being shaped and honed and, as one of my readers is so fond of saying (hi, Jen), forged in fire. But here’s the cool thing: when your forged in fire, you come out stronger. Ask any blacksmith. And not only are you stronger, you’re closer to achieving and fulfilling your purpose. 

So, let’s get aggressive, shall we?