As a Type A personality with good intuition and a good command of my body and mind, I feel pretty excited about life. Boxing, running, mind-wrestling, writing and talking to people are all passions of mine.
I have spent my life researching, developing and experimenting with all sorts of physical and mental capabilities. At the ripe age of 35, I feel like I have taken the best elements of everything I have learned and trained, dumped the stuff that didn’t work for me, and amalgamated all my experiences into a recipe for a relatively fearless life.
This is scary in itself. That kind of ‘real’-ilization. It is not possible to shut the blinders after you have truly jumped into the Unknown. It was in my 20s that I took my first steps through the open doors of perception. I felt both terrified and perfectly at home. And I knew after I had overcome that initial fear — or emotion of any sort — I could always take one more step.
I remember one of my ‘flashy enlightenment moments’ — a clear glimpse into the Unknown. My first Sensei was lecturing after class one night. In kneeling pose, I examined every part of my aching body with my mind, to try and stave off my discomfort and anger over having to hold this pose after such a gruelling class.
I was trying to concentrate on what my teacher was saying. He said, “Train your Kata everyday. Focus on precision and technique, and do not go to the dark side. Some who venture there never return.”
The warrior is one who sees what he sees.
A warrior is blind when not training. I quickly fall into depression without proper foresight. In one of my darker moments, I looked at myself in the mirror one morning, and told myself I needed to make a choice. I needed to either be who I truly was, or die, leaving for my son a legacy of unused abilities.
Live or die. It was really that simple and intense. Anything less than my best effort would mean something worse than no fame, no game and no name: Outward blame and inward shame.
I shaved my head.
I had lovely hair and for many years and I think I hid behind it. It defined me. It made me softer and more girly. It brought on a lot of attention, which my ego loved. I learned through cultural influences and personal experience that people accept beauty more easily than non-beauty. I gander at some of the ads that were around when I was growing up (and even so today) and understand completely why I got the idea that women ‘had to look good’ in order to be given the microphone.
In any case, I decided that I was not going to let the media or society or myself tell me that I would be a less desirable person without hair; or no matter what. What happened as a result was similar to the first time I shaved my head. People responded to me differently. I thought, at both times, perhaps this was because I looked like a dude. But it was deeper than that. People responded differently, I think in retrospect, because I presented something different.
Confidence. Somehow, the purposeful shedding of my hair was a kind of innately necessary spiritual molting process. I let the past fall away from me. Like when I train to maximum intensity, each bead of sweat that pours off my skin is a part of the old me, sloughing off, creating room for newness.
In the mirror that day, looking at my newly shaved head, I decided then and there to seek out another teacher. One who was far beyond me. One who could look past appearances and allow me to learn how to push through my doubts, fears, insecurities and all challenges. To become and evolve in a way I knew I could if only I was not alone on the battlefield.
I soon joined a gym, where to my amazement, I found two things that have forever changed my life: Boxing and a brotherhood of real deal fighters.
After a year of training boxing, I have become silent again. Humbled by the beauty of doing. Grateful for the chance to try again. In class and in life, I practice self discipline, self control, pushing through pain, pushing through frustration, time management, spatial awareness, tolerance, political diplomacy, communication — verbal and non verbal, patience, gratitude and quiet humility.
Boxing has given me a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection; not only in myself but with others. It has taught me about human psychology, mobility, speed, timing, bone angles — geometry, proper nutrition and brain functioning and the greatest potential of the human mind. No wasted movement. Rep it out. The Sweet Science.
I digress. It is in this quiet mind space — the space where boxing takes me — that I can feel the gentle night wind on my back as I sing and swing. It is in this humble mind space that I somehow feel as if I’m floating while flowing through kata. It is like the final moments of my labour, when I felt myself slip away into a pain I could no longer tolerate, only to come back and see my son born and my self reborn. Or the feeling of being entranced by the beat of a drum, brought to life by a spirit I feel channelled as I sing with abandon in the Roda: The Wheel of Life. Tearfully breaking my chains by pounding on a drum, or a bag, or hit mitts.
It continues to evolve. Everything comes in cycles. The endless wheel of life. We either run in circles or we level up to a new one.
Chase tail or evolve.
“Thankfulness” h.koppdelaney@Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
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