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Know Jack #431 My Worst Enemy

Sherlock Holmes had Moriarty. Jean Valjean had Inspector Javert. Peter Pan had Captain Hook. Epic heroes need a ruthless villain. Like my literary hero Don Quixote de la Mancha, I have myself. I am the ever-elusive, unbeatable foe whom I do battle in every episode.

 

While that fact comes as no secret to me, I have my peaceful moments when his schemes seem far away. That is always when he is most dangerous. He always seems to know what I am thinking—sometimes before I know it myself. He adds to the danger by being a master of disguise and concealment.

 

I retired four years ago expecting a life of semi-solitude spent reading, studying, and writing. Whatever subject piqued my mind at any given moment was fair game for these pursuits. It worked—for a while. Then, using me against myself, my enemy hatched a diabolical plan to derail all my best laid plans.

 

If you ask me, my Achilles heel is a tendency to take on jobs nobody wants thinking that I’m being, if not a good member of the cause, at least a momentarily useful one. I can say “no” I just rarely do if I see a need. My wily enemy has an army of needy people and causes. That’s how he traps me. Next thing you know, I’m not just climbing into the white van with the Free Tacos sign, I’m cooking them.

 

Once I’m hooked, it’s difficult for me to walk away. I can easily picture me at Thermopylae, Masada, or the Alamo. I thrive on the idea of fighting a battle against impossible odds. That those who do often die in that battle makes no difference. The only real antidote is for me to find out that those standing behind or beside me aren’t really invested in the notions of honor, duty, and most of all loyalty. In those circumstances, I have been timed at going from gentleman to as…er…not a nice guy in 0.325 seconds.

 

I looked around the other day and found my time filled with exercises in futility, serving people who didn’t seem to care. Some were outright opposed to my efforts, others were aiding and abetting my foes. In that moment, I knew I had been had. There was no time in my day for me to read, study, and write for myself. I had tricked myself into wasting that retirement I wanted.

 

In all honesty, I quit those retirement destroying activities at least once a week for the last year. I have never been as close to walking away as I am now. The heat of the moment has passed, and I see my enemy in the mirror every morning. He thinks he’s winning. A little further down the garden path and—plot twist.



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