Nadir

The gladiator leapt back in disbelief. He was the undisputed champion of the arena, with over fifty kills under his belt. Men feared to look him in the eyes, let alone face him in the ring. The very grounds of the colosseum he fought in was stained with the blood of his enemies.  And yet, here he stood, nearly decapitated by his foe’s latest swing.

Growing up, I was always a victim of my curiosity. My childhood revolved around exploring the vast confines of my backyard, capturing unfortunate creatures like frogs and lizards that happened to be in the vicinity and plucking out weeds, blades of grass and leaves of plants alike, much to the annoyance of my parents. However, it was not my endless curiosity that spurred me to spend long stints in my backyard, although it certainly brought me there, but my unfaltering tenacity once I set my mind on something.

As a child living in California, one of the myths I was led to believe was that it would be entirely possible to literally dig a hole through the centre of the Earth to China. After deciding that I would like to visit China (“Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat” played a big role in that decision), I ran into my father’s shed to grab a small handheld gardening shovel. I found myself a nice plot of unobstructed land and then, I dug.

The gladiator glanced down at his blade, and let out a chuckle at the hopelessness of the situation. Under normal circumstances, this fight would have ended ages ago. However, this was no normal fight. The nobles were bored of his swift decisive victories and decided to even the playing field for the other gladiators. In his hand was a dull and rusty blade, almost crumbling from its old age. The glare of the sunlight reflected by the rubies encrusted on the hilt of his opponent’s sword served to further remind him of the bleak predicament he was in. He let out a heavy sigh, stepped forward and swung his dilapidated sword.

I dug, and dug, and dug. Through stones and moist dirt and even worms, I dug. I dug until my arms ached and night fell, and I would just lay in a heap of exhaustion as I gazed upon the night sky blanketed with stars. I was still determined to get to China though, and so I would excitedly run up the hill from school the next day to continue on my epic quest. On the fourth day, I hit rock bottom. Literally. There was a giant rock in the way that wouldn’t give. In fact, hitting it produced sparks, which both fascinated me and frustrated me at the same time. With all the intelligence of an eight year old, I smashed the shovel against the rock, wanting to break it into smaller pieces so I could scoop it away. I kept hitting it, again and again and again. I never gave up until finally, the shovel was dented beyond use. It was for all intents and purpose, broken. That was when I called it quits. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to.

And that was how I have lived my entire life. Never giving up, never giving in to my self-doubt. No matter how many times I find myself on the floor, I pick myself up and try again. That is, until I can no longer stand up. Only then do I call it quits. I never give up on my own volition but rather from a complete lack of any alternatives.

Blood infused sweat trickled down his arm. His weapon lay shattered in pieces on the ground beside him. It was over. He could no longer fight without a weapon against such a skilled opponent. He looked up into the sky and breathed in the cool spring air. Then he bowed his head, and accepted his fate.

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