The Brave Life
Last Sunday’s grading, a nice shot copped, result: a cracking good shiner, a bloodshot eye, a suspected chipped orbital bone (there’s now a small, immovable, sharpish lump that wasn’t there before, no great pain though – opinions welcome).
Yes, it’s been an interesting week. Working in the family butcher shop these past six days I’ve had to endure with no mercy – ah please stop now! – the incessant questioning from customers concerning my new shady appearance. That and all the queer looks from diffident types who’ve actually made me think I have a shady appearance!
I haven’t had a black eye for quite a long time and although now and again I think I quite suit it, I’ll be glad when it’s gone. I can’t say I’m a fan of all the attention, the diffident types looking down as soon as I catch their eye, or comments like: “I’m too old to be throwing myself about doing stuff like that”. And “Wing Chun? What’s that?”
My general feeling is there’s not a lot of people able to see the great gain to be had from partaking in a martial art, especially when they note your injury, whatever it may be. Most like the safe and comfortable life.
Because maybe you stand for them as something quite different, example of someone who isn’t quite right. I mean, who in their right minds wants to be punched in the face?
Nonetheless, thinking of how we were after the battle, remembering those involved in the grading, all battered and bruised, shaking hands and hugging each other in gratitude for joint endurance of a very hard shift, I can safely say that there is something liberating about being punched in the face. And that this shared disenthralling from society’s great fear of violence is bringing us close in a quite special way. And yes, indeed, that we are in fact the sane ones for living like this. For not shrinking where others might quiver.
But this martial life isn’t such an alien effort and so far removed from a pinched and contracted existence as people might think. We might commence it the meek and the docile, all we need is the desire to be more than we are.
Bravery starts there, with that simple longing. Steps taken notwithstanding great apprehension, through the doors of the gym.
Because this is the truth: brave life is made up of many things. Brave life is a collective that builds over a time. Brave life is a thing that sees beyond black eyes and bruises the fitting of a strength capable of surmounting the odds and a spirit that’s rising.
And the bravest of all, perhaps: acknowledging in the first place that you are scared but that you are wanting to change.
That’s brave. Not shying away from this alien being with his black and blue eye.