The Animal Inside
“In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that layed him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
‘I am leaving, I am leaving’
But the fighter still remains”
The Boxer– Simon Â & Garfunkel
That old line about it being darkest just before the dawn is supposed to make you feel good. It is supposed to give you hope that when all hell has broken loose there is a reason to keep on going because things are going to get better. It is a nice theory but it is a fairy tale and I stopped believing in those a long time ago. That sort of dream of some sort of heroic rescue is a luxury that fighters can’t afford, at least not those who want to survive. Not here, not now. When you are in that ring there is no time to dream about the calvary riding into rescue you.
Inside the ring the only thing that saves you is your ability to reach back in time and find the animal that lives inside us all. Turn off your mind and find the lizard brain that acts and reacts. Don’t pull punches because he won’t. Don’t be kind because he won’t and don’t worry about anything other than that particular moment in time. That guy that I used to be would have been more than a little troubled by who he had become. He was far more cerebral. He would have tried to analyze the situation and come up with various scenarios that he could use to escape.
Back then escape sounded so simple and so serene. All you had to do was get a job and pay your bills. Do that and the foreclosure would go away. No more worries about where you would live and how to feed your family. That guy used to think that people who didn’t work just weren’t trying hard enough to find a job and then he learned otherwise. Then he learned that many of them were working. They were among the ranks of the partially employed. Partial employment was a clever term created by some bureaucrat that allowed the government to shrink the ranks of unemployment and during an election year that was important.
Your representatives loved to crow about how many jobs they had created or how much they had cut the debt. Your representatives would fight to create the most clever soundbites in which they would toot their own horn and slam the opposition. It usually included some crack about how smart the voters were and how they would never be fooled by the games that the opposition were playing with numbers. Except none of those politicians wanted the voters to really dig into the numbers. None of them wanted an educated electorate to analyze and understand just how little was accomplished and how much was laid waste.
Those guys weren’t worried about feeding their families, losing their homes, healthcare or retirement. While they fought with each other over these very issues and who had the best plan for the public- that very same public was losing their homes, dying from lack of healthcare and laughing at the idea that they might be able to retire one day.
That guy I used to be got riled up over all that. It frustrated him to no end to see these things day in and day out. Unlike some others he never stopped voting. He never let his cynicism or anger with the system prevent him from his civic duties. The guy I am now isn’t so far gone as to have given up on that either- but something has changed. You can’t get in that ring and see those things without something happening to you. Some of the guys say that it is better than being a soldier but I am not Â so sure. A bullet is a much faster way to die.
Soldiers have resources. There are supply lines, medics, food, shelter and more. It might not be perfect, but to me it is better than this. This is like having a python coiled around your waist and every time you breathe that fucker squeezes a little bit tighter until you give up and give in.
Reminds me of the time that my mother told me that my temper was going to get me into trouble. Funny thing is that temper is really the thing that protects me now because I am so freaking angry I won’t give in. If that snake had the capacity to fear then he would fear me because I have focused all of my pain and rage upon him.
If only that fucker were real. In the meantime I have three hours to get myself straight for my next fight. Got no idea who they are or what they are like. Can’t say if they are a new guy or one of the guys that has been doing this for a while. I am not fans of either. Most of the new guys haven’t ever gotten a serious ass kicking before. They tend to fold quickly. That is not good for me. If the fight ends too quickly I make less. More importantly, if it ends too quickly I’ll probably end up having to fight two or three times that night and that is never good.
It only takes one shot to fuck you up in ways that don’t get fixed even with good healthcare. The guys that have been doing this for a while aren’t any better. They know that they need to extend things long enough to get the crowd riled up. Fight the wrong guy and the beating you take isn’t what you would call quick.
Anyway, no time to think about that now. All I can do is take another handful of ibuprofen and hope that when I get in there I find the animal inside before he does.