It's been quoted many times that some men are lovers and others are fighters, and at 31 what do I class myself as? The answer, simply, is I don't know. Both? Maybe.
When I was growing up I saw many more fights in front of my eyes as opposed to couples showing affections for one another, although, perhaps, fighting drew much more of my attention.
I was eight years old when my parents bought into the bar business. From that age until I was sixteen it was their profession. So for eight years I suppose you could say that I was exposed to more than the average kid growing up in suburbia.
Fights would erupt in our bar. Then, since the local police didn't have sufficient manpower to contain it, it would usually spill out onto the street directly in front of our living room window. The only instruction from my father would be to stay upstairs, which was almost always obeyed.
As my parents swept through two bar businesses and were on their third tenancy, I was now a resilient teenager becoming ever curious to the commotions of older drunken adults.
What happened to me inside myself when a bar or street fight erupted? That, I can explain with perfect clarity. I would feel completely vacant inside, like my innards would just temporarily disappear leaving me feeling brave, yet soulless.
If I was but a few feet away form the brawl, fear would never enter my head. Was it because subconsciously I knew that the only way I was to be hurt in that situation would be for me to start throwing blows myself. Or perhaps I just wanted to be punched just to see what it felt like. Just to feel more alive.
I, however, didn't experience more than one blow to the face from anyone until the age of sixteen, when a lad around my age accused me of looking at his girl in a club. He must of hit me seven or eight times in the face until I reacted. My delayed reaction occurred because I felt absolutely no pain or feeling at all. In fact, I blacked out temporarily and the next vision I had was of me with my hands around his throat.
Since then I've had only a small handful of scuffles, probably because of the fact that I don't start fights or look for trouble. Or because of my size, people who would love to punch my lights out are thereby deterred.
But I do have anger swimming in my veins, maybe a little too much.
One day I'll know how to channel it wisely.
One day I'll find inner peace.
One day I'll be giving someone else advice.
One day I'll have that cherished word stapled to my soul that they call wisdom.
Gareth John Harkness