This is something I’ve been feeling lately. I’m not proud of that feeling. In fact, it’s one of the core reasons I started this blog. Cowardice is a social label, but it is also a biological feeling, probably best described as “flight not fight.” I’m not saying I feel this all the time, but, the more I examine myself, evolutionary biology, my family history, my response to situations, I realize that I have often gravitated towards “flight”. Sure, I couch that impulse in good manners, niceness & my charms, but it still there, waiting like an ugly beast beneath my bed.
That’s a hard thing to admit. I have participated in many “fight” worthy activities: performing, high school football, college ruby, all pursuits that require a spine. Maybe that’s been the point of doing them. Maybe I was setting out to push back against that flight impulse. I suppose it’s always there, but the scales should be tilted more towards “fight’ if you want to make it in this world. I’m not just talking about a physical fight. A fully Action-oriented man should be able to fight with words, wits, and heart in his daily interactions. Hesitation should be replaced by action. It’s about getting your little primitive brain out-of-the-way.
I was catering an event last night, a high-profile Fashion Week party that featured some celeb attendees like, Willem Dafoe, Channing Tatum, & Marina Abramovic. They all have the common denominator of strong “fight” impulses. Marina, for those of you who don’t know her, is one of the most prolific, controversial, & challenging of performance artists still working today. She does things that would have made the Jackass crew cringe. Leaving the discussion of “art” out of this, her performance pieces have endangered and physically harmed her repeatedly. That takes fight. As for Willem Dafoe, you can see it in his eyes, his relaxed, alpha manner. To be an actor at his level, you must have fight. And Channing Tatum didn’t get to where he already is, sure his acting skills are questionable, without a healthy dose of rugged moxie. For the record, I’m not some sort of celebrity star-fucker. I don’t revere them. I just appreciate their efforts. Just as much as I appreciate the fighting efforts of illegal immigrants busting their asses in the backs of kitchens all across this city.
So where does this leave Captain Action in his quest towards nurturing his action instincts? I think what it means is I need to start incrementally enduring dangerous or unpleasant things. For instance, confrontation. If I’m in a movie theatre, like I was last Friday night, and someone’s foot keeps hitting the back of my chair. I will, though it may feel uncomfortable, turn around and say, “stop hitting the back of my chair with your foot.” Instead of letting my anxieties creep in and say, “you’ll be fine for two hours feeling that bump. It’s really just an accident.”
Starting with stupid little things like that, dealing with the small anxieties, readies one’s fight or flight response to be able to endure bigger and bigger challenges and confrontations. Just like the boxer grows accustomed over time to being punched but still punching back unflinchingly, so must I train my body & brain to bypass that pesky flight response. It can be done, it will be done, or my middle name isn’t…