I had a rough weekend, training wise, and I spent most of my off day trying to get out of my own head. For this, I can blame the heat, or the stress of my boyfriend being out of the country this week, or my diet, or any number of things, but sometimes off days are just off days. They happen to everyone.
Not helping things was reading this little tidbit about Jake “Raging Bull” LaMotta: evidently, when he was a teenager, LaMotta believed he had killed a man during a robbery. Later, when he began boxing, he’d take more punches than was strictly necessary as a means of punishing himself for things he’d done wrong. (And it turned out he actually hadn’t killed the guy.) My first thought (after, of course, “it’s amazing that they managed to make a fantastic, deep character study of a film about this guy without this event being explicitly center stage”) was that it struck a big chord with me. And that kind of scared me a little. Not that I’ve ever killed anybody (I haven’t), but that I have that self-punishing impulse in me. If I don’t consciously believe I should be taking fists to the face for all the various things I think I’ve done, not done, am, or am not, I know it’s there sometimes on an unconscious level. So it was probably not my healthiest moment.
There are multitudes of reasons I box, though, and even when my train of thought hits a particularly dark place, I know my desire is a complicated animal. My training itself is a mixed bag. Sometimes it feels like punishment (whether or not I want it to) and sometimes it feels like the most comfortable, amazing place in the world, like I was born to do it. Sometimes it feels like this knowledge and this body with all the things it can do are rewards for having been extremely good in this life or a previous one. On bad days I have to remember that it’s been like that way more often lately, and will only feel more like that, more often, as I learn and improve.
I once took a yoga class where the teacher would end each class by having us silently express our gratitude to ourselves for being there and doing the class. (I imagine this is fairly common. Now that I think about it, that might have even been more than one teacher who did that.) The way my body felt at the end of the class, especially as I became more comfortable in the poses, always seemed to me like its own reward. This may be the only thing that boxing training and yoga have in common.