I once had a boss who was challenging to deal with (shocking I know). A hallmark of interactions with him was that you often had the sense that he was trying to irk you into a contentious discussion of matters not having anything to do with the matter at hand. I had witnessed him use this tactic on other unsuspecting victims to great effect. After the person was off balance emotionally he would then go in for the strike to set them off and then paint them as irrational. Diabolical was his skill level at this exercise. This was not successful with me as I am typically very “task at hand” by nature (my being called Spock more than once during childhood as I have mentioned before) and not given to irrational deviations in the midst of a discussion. The irony of this is that he would then step up his efforts to “set me off” which then made his efforts even more obvious and easy to thwart. This all escalated to a level where others started to notice and ask why I remained so calm about it. To which I would respond “I do not know of any stressful situation that is better served by flying off the handle”.
Once while standing at the curb waiting to cross 1st Avenue at lunchtime I had an epiphany. We must always endeavor to stay up on the curb. There are those that will come in to your life by way of the gutter below, lurking in the shadows. They eat, sleep, workout and dwell in the shadows. Often times they will peer up on to the curb and see someone they want something from. They know that if they come up in to the daylight at curb level they will be seen for who they are. Unscrupulous. Double dealing. Backstabbers. Disloyal. So instead of coming up they will attempt to drag you down to their level and engage you where they dwell. Often those up on the curb will think, well I have greater might up here in the light and plus I am right so I am on for a fight. Here is the problem… The gutter dweller is at their strongest in the dark of the shadows and they know they will defeat you if they can separate you from the light. They go to the gutter’s gym, they have acclimated themselves to the gutters air and landscape. So once their adversary steps in to the darkness they are at a loss and will be swiftly defeated often wondering what just happened. I was right. I had the might. I am from the light. It should have been my fight. But here is the rub. You never had to leave the curb. You are 100% safe there even though the gutter dweller will try and convince you that you are vulnerable. For if you remain on the curb when the gutter dweller wants to get at you they will have to come to you in the light. Once in the light they will be exposed and vulnerable unable to call on their normal tricks. Once up on the curb in the light they will be exposed and ultimately defeated without you having to lift a finger.
Though it was not easy and I will admit that as the contentious behavior escalated your humble vulcan did have stress related health issues never encountered before or since (sinusitis, bronchitis, eczema, etc.) I refused to step off the curb and stoop to his level. No matter how uncomfortable I was I knew I was safe in the light and there was nothing to be gained by playing by his rules. Others who I called friend and had good intentions for me would say “You are stronger and faster than him, go down there and take him on.” But that was a sure defeat, because my tools of war would not work on that battleground. There were things I was not willing to do. There were things I was not willing to say. Plus I was not willing to betray who I was and my best interests just to secure one victory. Others very close to me advised “Why not leave?”, but I knew I was where I was supposed to be even though I was uncomfortable. Then one fateful day he did it. Out of frustration he stepped up in to the light and gave me in writing just what I needed to call this all to an end. It was delivered to me by his own hand. The details are not significant, but know that after I took the proper action and brought it to a power greater than his all was set right. My victory was inevitable, but I had to learn how to wait on the curb instead of jumping down in to darkness and defeat.
In the end I was victorious in my work situation and I left that job exactly when I was supposed to more than three years after this episode. I was blessed with a much better job, home, etc. If I had moved any sooner I would have missed out. My perseverance was rewarded. None of it would have come to pass if I had jumped in to the gutter. None of it would have happened if I had given up and walked away. I was kind to him even after this event. There are those close to me who held a grudge and did not want me to invite him to my going away party. As tempting as that may have seemed momentarily that was no way to behave. Those of us who are loved should be the first to show love. Not always easy, does not always feel good, but always right. Also I understood that his issue was not with me specifically. Not saying he was a bad person either. This was just how it played out.
Stay on the curb up in the light. This is where you have strength. Though taking the fight to the gutter may seem appealing for a moment it will ultimately end in defeat and regret. Plus this is not just about us. People are watching your walk whether you realize it or not. When you stay in the light it motivates others to come up in to the light themselves and darkness must flee. You may be the key to someone else’s escape from the dark. Whether to pursue you or emulate you. We need to let the light in us shine so that others may seek the light for themselves.