Monday, February 15, 2010

Year of the Tiger

It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger

(Survivor - Eye of the Tiger)

Chinese New Year is coming, one of the biggest festivities here in California: the golden dragon parade will soon be welcoming the Year of the Tiger in the streets of Los Angeles. New year celebrations are meant to be rites of passage and this new year is a good moment to mark the end of what has been far too long a phase of passive suffering. There's no better symbolic image than the rising of the tiger to prepare oneself for the challenge of rising up again and getting ready to fight back. I've been always a fighter by nature and I know in essence no other way to deal with life.

Risin' up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I'm back on my feet

The chemistry is changing, the tide is turning. Once again I have survived to the other side. There is nothing like the surge of power that accompanies the crossing of the critical point, the change of sign of the derivative: it's a unique feeling, this sudden upward drive. Getting through the lowest point becomes more and more difficult with time, especially when some of the people you turn to for help at that crucial time do their best to ensure you will not make it. And yet, there it goes, once again: the swing turns, the energy returns. I am back on my feet and ready for the fight.

In the old days people believed that there is destiny written in names. My real life name is the name of a warrior, who in the years 1092-1095 lead the largest army of Europe against the emperor of the time, twice defeating him in battle and changing the course of European history forever, opening up the new era of city-states that would herald, in the centuries that followed, the whole cultural blooming of the Renaissance. Like her I am getting ready for battle, and if the challenge is to bring down an emperor, then so be it.

Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

This fight is indeed primarily about keeping a dream alive, despite all the attempts made at murdering it. Finding again the motivation to go on, to hold on to the ideal that got me through all these years. It's an act of willpower that requires recovering the right amount of strength. If I have come so close to abandoning the fight, it is only because I came under attack at the time of highest vulnerability. It served some purpose to hit rock bottom: it forced me to see the truth about the people who surrounded me, tell friends from foes. Went the distance, now I am back on my feet, with the rage of the will to survive.

I am regrouping my scattered forces into an army of growing size: old thoughts are starting to live again, all dreams return with renewed strength, connections are being drawn, alliances formed. I am testing the ground, laying out tactics and strategy, choosing my terrain. I will bring the fight to all fronts, from the open camp down to the smallest alley, to every single one of the ideas that were once a shared fruit of a paradise lost, and far beyond. I am coming.

Risin' up, straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory

Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive

Untenured Alabama professors notwithstanding, the present setting of human civilization prevents us from fighting back against our enemies with the brute force of weapons, as people used to do in the not so distant history of mankind. No duel outside the city gates at dawn. Our fighting, today, is a fighting of ideas. The sharpest sword is in our words, and that duel is fought, no less fiercely, with the creativity of our minds. The modes of expression have changed through the ages, but in the end it is that same powerful surge of our primordial instinct for survival that guides the more refined and sophisticated parts of our mind to live up to the challenge and engage in the decisive battle.

Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry
They stack the odds, still we take to the street
For the kill, with the skill to survive

It's the eye of the tiger
It's the thrill of the fight
Rising up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he's watching us all
With the eye of the tiger