The Cornered Cat
Dum vivimus, vivamus!

While we live, let us live.

So many people talk about paying attention to the world around you as if it’s some weird, paranoid, scary, “tactical” thing. It is not! It is making the decision to live consciously. To be fully present in every moment. To listen, and really hear. To look, and really see. To be completely there in the world, every moment of every day.

Situational awareness and the physical skills of protecting yourself are foundational to an attitude that speaks louder than words. It’s not bluff, it’s not posturing, it’s not show. It’s not the frightened little dog yapping with fear and yelping for someone else to come deal with the scary bad thing. It goes beyond all that, right down to something fundamental about yourself.

Awareness and mindset skills do help us protect ourselves from violent crime, no doubt about that. But they are also very basic, very worthwhile skills for living well — living with confidence, living with awareness, living with full knowledge of who you are and what you can do and how you fit into the world.

The decision that your life is worth defending marks an important milestone on the path to living at peace inside your own skin. Most people never consciously decide what’s worth living for, what’s worth fighting for, what’s worth dying for, but you have. It settles your mind in a way that those who have never examined that choice never will know.

The commitment to really see things that are really there — not to turn our eyes away in disgust or fear of the things we don’t understand, not to miss filling our eyes with the fragile moments of beauty, not to skim busily past the humor or the pathos of life around us — that commitment marks a big milestone on the path to full consciousness. Most people go through life half-asleep, and you just made the decision to wake up.

Deciding that you will act means you believe you have agency, that the things you do really matter and make a difference, that you fully own your own power and your own choices. That’s the major milestone on the path to adulthood.

Taking time to master (not just learn, but master) the skills you may need to protect yourself and the people you love — that’s turning away from posturing or posing, and turning toward full responsibility for yourself and your choices. Acquiring the physical skills teaches you something about the limits of those skills and your willingness to use them. It helps you make better and more responsible choices throughout the rest of your life.

All of these things really do make us better prepared to defend our own physical selves. But better than that, they help us fully live.

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