Working medium security this year, I've dropped from one or two fights a week to one every three months or so.
A few days ago, I dropped into one of the dorms in my area, chatted to the deputy and several inmates and started to leave. The exit door was by the inmate telephones and as I got there and pushed the button to alert Control to open the door I could _feel_ someone behind me deciding he could take me. I turned in that direction and the inmate moved quickly to stay directly at my back.
I was overwhelmed with an incredible, feral joy. It was going to go down, right there, right then; and it would be an ambush and therefore there would be no rules, no restraints on what I could or coudn't do.
I kept turning and I couldn't stop smiling. I don't know if it looked like a smile or not because every inmate in sight froze and went dead silent. The inmate who had tried to stay behind me wasn't moving, maybe because of something about my body language or the sudden silence. As soon as he saw my eyes he reached for a phone and pretended to dial. His hands were shaking. I turned my back on him and when the door buzzed, I left.
I was still burning with the joy, even though nothing happened. I talked the next day to a friend and mentor. We both know that ugly fights are ugly things but he can also understand that feeling. He said it was because of purity, because when someone is trying to kill you and you have absolutely nothing to lose, that is the only moment in life that is perfectly pure. The moment is exactly what it is. You and the threat are exactly what you are. No thoughts, no plans, no regrets.
Even in the purest love, it's always about a future.
Gray, in his book "The Warriors" told of a French woman who had lived through horrible times in WWII, but also said that she had never felt truly alive since the peace.
That should have been the central question of Gray's book, but he shied away.
What is this joy? Is it good? Does it make up for the sleepless nights after the less clear-cut encounters? Is it the reason some people need a life with conflict? Does everyone feel it, or just a few?