Push Pull

I’m taking a leap of faith, stabbing at balance in my boxing practice. This week marks history in women’s sports with the unprecendented entry of 3 female weight divisions, symbolically dismissing the myth that this sport is too dangerous for women’s participation. All day my technological nodes were abuzz with this news, how amazing to be a little cell contributing to the pulse of this moment.

With no intention to diminish this international title IX advance, this week marks history in my own boxing career, a small personal victory that honors the legacy of doing nothing. I spontaneously decided to take a month away from the gym – not a month of the debate (to go or not to go to the gym), but a clean break, with clear stipulations – stay in shape but do it gently, indulge the pace of the summer sunnies. The practice of “shoulds” – mornings shrouded in the mirage of obligation to something that I myself have in fact chosen – brings me closer to the insane place where each choice I make is bronzed and hung. Maybe I don’t know the best way to be an athlete, maybe restoration is as important as the zone. Of course I’m afraid I’ll never go back. Yet experience has shown me that I start itching to get back in that damn ring and I do, and I show up fully when it’s time to show up.

I would like to stop getting ready to live, and simply just live. I don’t know discipline that looks like pausing, that looks like letting go rather than pushing the river. I only know discipline that looks like grinding my teeth, setting in and constant go now forward. Progress is not always linear, it’s cyclical, this is how we season, through birth, dying, re-birth. What a curve ball.

This came to me unlike most decision-making debacles of pros and cons and back and forth fogs. Simplicity. I simply felt it was time to pull back and take a solid vacation. It comes on the heals of many unfought, ill-timed bouts this summer, a season that, in my mind was supposed to be all about fighting now that I’ve finally cleared the hurdles of nerves and fatalism that characterize the majority of my competitive efforts. Fighting 2 days in a row at the Women’s National Golden Gloves tournament kind of cured this. Way easier to step in the ring when you just done did it yesterday. It was a week of saturation, among peers and in full focus of my sport. I could rattle on without the self-conscious holding back that I apply in pedestrian conversation on the subject. Boxing is our common denominator, our shared outlet. I think every boxer has her own stories of first the crush, then what it was like to get her start in the ring, the initiation of bruises and blood spits, the debut fight. Then taking space for the first time; not easy to know when to pause, all artists have to learn to do this though, no?

I did, however, have the great pleasure of an exhibition bout last week – all the fun of performing without any of the pressure of judges, learned colleagues. Just a crowd surprised to see small women knocking gloves.

I may not be in the gym, but here I am, Friday night, at home with the laptop and Pandora, googling women’s boxing and blogging .. I clearly can’t really stay away too long 🙂

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No duplication.

I can’t stop thinking about my last win – what did I do that date to ensure it? I should’ve brought my journal from then to read back, recreate the moment, create the formula for success. My opponent for tonight said to be a brawler, short, Italian American, aggressive. Familiar territory. Rumored a southpaw. Good news for my sharp right hand. Move and throw, always more than one punch, never less than three. I so badly want to control the process; ironically I fight exactly because I’m forced to let go of control as I move through it. Each new moment is its own. Even if I followed the same formula as my last win, this day is its unrehearsed. I watched a teammate after a win last night and was reminded of the post-match joy. None of this is really so serious, and win or lose, the pride of having gotten into the ring, striding past the deep desire to contrive outcomes, is pure exhilaration. I pray to focus on the work, to seize the moment b/c it goes so fast. So fast. I’ve travelled this whole way for 11 minutes. As a boxer I am learning to listen. How I feel about my performance rarely matches the reality of it. I often am given praise, yet only feel distrust and suspicion. My mind tells me it’s painful and dishonest to believe someone’s affirmation: I will disappoint them and me when I inevitably fail. So this is the cycle of self-sabotage. I see it and can turn a blind eye, work to trust and be in the present, rather than in some psychological holding pattern.

Some of the best advice I’ve received is to have fun. I’m learning to hear this. The luxury of a rental car enabled a beautiful beach day, sunny breezy coast. Today, is paced, calm with the necessary waiting period. I am so grateful to be here, in good company, with the gracious loan of a MacBookPro. Embrace the unknown and let my hands go!!