August 25, 2022- The robust girl raised a barely-concealed middle finger at one of her classmates. When she saw me looking at her, she lowered the dirty digit and instead put her other hand in front of her face, with the middle finger again stealthily in my direction. “I know what you’re doing, so knock it off”, was my rejoinder. She put her hands down and went back to her work. None of her classmates saw fit to challenge me, after that, and besides, they got to listen to music, with headphones or ear buds. The regular teacher arrived early from her morning training, and was pleased to see how much work had been accomplished.
It has been a long time, since I realized palpable fear. Maybe because, as one gentleman said, a few years back, I am “in the fourth quarter” of my life, and there hasn’t been much that has yet to be tossed my way. I’ve been shot at, and missed; had “the stuffin'” knocked out of me; been psychically assaulted, resulting in physical injury; and bee surrounded by thugs, who were intent on administering a beat down. (The last one was ended,without harm to yours truly, when a more prominent local ruffian walked in and told his minions to “get the hell into the back of the truck!”) Large groups of people have come and gone from my life, and not seen fit to intimidate or harass me. Mentally ill people, especially if they are unpredictable, still need to be handled carefully, but by and large, they don’t threaten me, nor I them.
Of course, I choose my battles and do seek first to understand, to listen and then be heard. Mother’s admonition to not speak, until the other person has taken a breath after even the most seemingly trivial of remarks, or the most windy of monologues, has reaped me dividends, foe many years now. That has applied even when someone has launched into a lengthy diatribe. If there is something of value in a lambasting, then I will take it. That’s even true when a troll, hiding in cyber anonymity, launches into a tirade. I can then cut someone off, and glean whatever truth has been imparted, thus perhaps improving myself.
Basically, I am not scared, because I maintain awareness of my surroundings and find that no one, inherently, is a threat-in and of self.