I Will Back Down

By Chris Churchill

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
— Bruce Lee

Hello. Let me introduce myself. My name is Chris Churchill, and I will back down. I promise this. I'll at least try, anyway.

If I cut you off in traffic, inadvertently, I will wave meekly. If I block your path while walking and you huff and sigh and speedily walk around me, contorting your body in a vertical version of the Fosbury Flop, in order to prove a point, I will apologize loud enough for you to hear. If I did nothing wrong, and it doesn’t affect me one way or another, I will, more than likely, tell you (whether or not you see it as an admission of guilt) that I am sorry about whatever it was that probably just happened. And for this, I am not sorry.

At the very least, I make a vow to back down.

The author.

The author.

In fact, I find that apologizing when you are wrong is very disarming these days. I have apologized to people who expected a fight and, instead got a sigh of relief. I have backed down without shutting up and, somehow, the words came out right enough that I turned an enemy into a friend. When there is a potential to find common ground with another human being, backing down works. When creating a friendship or an alliance without giving up your personal morality instead of continued arguing, I will most certainly back down.

I am not concerned with being right on every single thing that spews out of my mouth or from these typing fingers. I usually don’t like to dig in. If you come after me in a comment section, I will read the comments. I will read your comments and the next guy’s comments and the next guy’s comments and this might go on for a while. Then I might get tired and play guitar for a while instead. Maybe I’ll hang out with my wife. Or maybe I’ll wash the dishes. Or maybe take a nap…you know, let the old subconscious straighten out my feelings before I come back.  Sometimes it takes a lot to back down. But, I assure you, I can do it.

I’m not sure I’d want to call this my mission statement, though. Who’s to say that I won’t have exactly the right comeback and win an argument? I might say it. I might change my mind about that later, though. Even if you tell me I’m wrong, I might still be able to back down. I might be able to break through the walls of pride and insecurity that hold most people’s personalities together and actually muster the will to back down and take your side of an issue, even at the cost of any apparent high status I might have. If only to see where you’re coming from. If only to understand you. Perhaps, in the hopes that you might do the same for others.

I often think about that Bruce Lee quote about being like water. I like water. I admire water. Water seems to know where it ‘s at. There is also the idea that water, running into a rock, is not deterred, but eventually breaks that rock and, ultimately, the water wins. Well, whoever came up with that, assumed that the water gave a shit about that rock. The water wasn’t trying to win. The water was just flowing. Being water. Sometimes a river is forced to change course. Sometimes, the landscape changes and the water must back down. The water doesn’t have an opinion on the issue. It is busy being water.

It’s a choice I am trying to make. Listen. I can take a punch. It’s easy. You just fall down. I have been nearly killed several times. I accidentally saved someone’s life once, because I am a hopeful, gullible, naïve person. I have accidentally injured people for the same reason. I have yelled at the boss and gotten fired as a result. I have yelled at the boss and gotten more respect from him. I think I have psychic dreams. I think my parrot, George, knows things before they happen. I love people now that I feared years ago and I am extremely suspicious of  the types of people I would have loved as a child. I believe in God… but not that one. I believe in Science… but not necessarily this one. I don’t believe that objective truth is real. Wax on. Wax off. Whacks on. Whacks off. I’m interested in the ideas. I’m interested in the people. I’m interested in Love.

I’m not necessarily interested in winning any arguments. Although, I might back down from that statement.