Friday, December 5, 2008

when they get hit

freddie roach was a former professional boxer who, when he retired, had a record of 41 wins and only 13 losses. he also was willing to take a punch and wear his opponents down. then, when he retired, he found that he has a gift for training boxers. Roach is the owner of the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles, and is currently one of the most popular trainers in boxing. Roach was voted Trainer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2003, 2006 and 2007. he has trained 17 World Champions. Roach has also been honored as Trainer of the Year in 2003 by the Boxing Writers of America and has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame, the New England Boxing Hall of Fame, and most recently the California Boxing Hall of Fame. Freddie Roach continues working as one of the most sought after trainers in the world.
he happens to have parkinson's disease, so, when he's being interviewed on the radio or tv and people find his speaking uneven or halting, that's what's happening.
he's also about six months older than me.
and i have no idea if he's a good person or not, but the man is nothing if not tenacious.
i'm not into boxing. i don't like the violence. but i get that at its highest levels, boxing is choreography, and drama, and thinking, and strategy, and large-muscle-memory based in rigorous and extensive training and hard work. and i saw part of the hbo special about the upcoming fight between oscar de la hoya and manny paquiau, and then i've been listening for interviews with freddie. he's absolutely fascinating. i'm listening to him talk about training his fighters, and there are about twenty things he's planning and working out about his fighter all at once - psychology, pacing, fears, plan a in the ring, plan b in the ring, what to say and what not to say, and so on. this is big big business, and it's not won based on who can hit the hardest.

i heard him in an interview with jim rome a few days ago say, about boxers:
"when they get hit, they always go back to who they are."

as in, even with all the training, all the strategy, all the thinking through the options of the match, all the plans and contingency plans and backup plans - when a boxer gets hit hard, and is in pain, and the body and the pain break past the intellect, who a man or woman is down deep will come out. that's what will be present. but the pain isn't "who they are." the pain is the doorway down into who they are.
eddie says, that thing they truly are? that's what'll come out, and fight.

i got very tired earlier this week. i started to get mad. sad. discouraged. worried.
my awesome wife said, "when we are afraid, or tired, we lose good judgment. we lose the ability to see what is real and what isn't."
and she was right. because i rested, and rested some more, and cried and got quiet, and when i was more clear, it's not that i talked myself out of what i was feeling; it's that what i was feeling at the surface wasn't truly, truly what was inside me. what was deep within me is hope, and strength, and i'm up. i got hit. the first rush of pain was sadness, discouragement, worry. but then i went down into myself further. and what came back swinging was hope and power and peacemaking. swinging. sort of. still wobbly. but here. some days i want to go back to the corner and sit. some days i wish i'd never gone into boxing in the first place.

lots of people never get into the ring.
lots of people hide over in the corner.
lots of people won't train, won't listen, won't swing, won't cover.
lots of people will train, will listen to their trainers, will swing hard, will cover up, and will find who they are past the pain and shock and fatigue. but it takes guts and endurance.

who are you when you get hit?


Laurel said...

Nice post Rick. It makes one think (the whole reason we communicate)...that's a very good thing. It's also a post that you can revisit from time to time and see something new, a new learning or perspective, come forth from it. My OT professor equated, in class not too long ago, that being a pastor is like being a boxer. It's not only the interactions with parishioners that makes this analogy but the job in juxtaposition with real life outside the job. It's in the make-up of the person who is called to serve....he said you will never go down by a knockout punch but you need to be careful, be aware, have a method of dealing with the [constant] jabs because those jabs over and over is what will collapse you to go down for the count and not be able to get back up.

Lauren said...

I needed this today. Like a lot. It's been a rough week. So thanks.

Chiron' said...

Very Nice Post. Thank you. I think it's also worthy of note to mention those spirits who, because of past pain or trauma, become afraid of who they really are, what they are really capable of, and hide themselves away out of a sense of obligation to protect others from a side of themselves which they do not understand......a side of themselves they do not trust. It is here, in this space where our unrealized potential resides, that we must learn not to fear. It is here that we must learn to have that "leap of faith" and believe that the sides of ourselves that we feel that we may not fully know or understand are expression of God, and are equally worthy of our self love and respect. It is here, in the shadow of our doubt, that our capacity for inner strength and even the subjective "greatness" may remain huddled against the ropes, pummeled by our own self doubt and fear of becoming something that we have no knowledge or understanding of.

In my experience, the biggest marathon of a fight in the human experience is one of learning to trust and believe in ourselves....which is really: An leap of faith where we trust that the Divine has created something really beautiful IN us and that it is our task to coax it out of the shadows and share it with others.

mike said...

"When they get hit, they always go back to who they are" -- somehow I was reminded of the sermon on the mount... "Blessed are they who are back to who they are"

mike said...

"When they get hit, they always go back to who they are" -- somehow I was reminded of the sermon on the mount... "Blessed are they who are back to who they are"

journeyingrick said...

"blessed are they who are back to who they are, for there they shall find that they're right where they and god can be together - which is who they really are in the first place."

Gary Means said...

Awesome post. Who am I when I get hit? There was a time when I could answer that question. Christian, husband, father, artist, faithful church leader, and more. Now I'm not so sure. I'm finding that I'm more tenacious than I thought I was. I'm fare more deeply flawed that I used to see. And I have a very difficult time trusting God, let alone following Him. But having been "hit" recently, I am finding that there is a core level to my faith, once all of the churchianity is stripped away. I am finding that I may be able to face the pain and fears of life while gradually relinquishing failed coping strategies. I am beginning to get to the point where I am almost desperate enough and broken enough to begin to trust God again. And I hesitantly reach out to Him, I can see that perhaps He has been waiting patiently, lovingly. Perhaps. But there are still a lot of raw wounds.

So, who am I when I get hit? Normal hits, an avoider. Devastating blows, someone who turns to God. Someone who wants to be more loving than I am, more able to love God, others, and myself.

journeyingrick said...

"normal hits, an avoider ... "devastating blows, someone who turns to god."

yeah. yep. yes.

Joe said...

I kinda like the analogy of turning into a dog, curling up in a corner and just settling down. Maybe that's more cat behavior. I am aware there are times to slow down, ponder, cry, write like a madman (in my journal or, well, blog for Christ's sakes!!!), let the "wave" roll through me ... then just get back up again. Again, and again, and again.

Boxers have resiliency. Some boxers also don't know when to rest (retire) and say "thank you" for the splendid gifts.

The squared circle.

Sure as hell isn't the Trinity -- yet for some, it's as damn close as they get.

Thanks for the deep, open, heartfelt post -- Joe

David said...

As a fan and as a layperson, I want to start by making a conscious effort to pray for fighters like you, Rick. You guys show me how to fight just by doing it, yourselves, and I am thankful for your demonstration. Too many leaders pretend to be perfectly at peace with God at all times; all they teach me is how far from them I am.

But not you. You remind me that we are all in the fight. All of us, even those of you who have heard a call....

I thank God for you--Great post.

journeyingrick said...

thanks david. wow. thank you.