My pugilistic preview piece got picked up by the folks over at No BS Boxing, a boxing news site and on-line forum. For fight fans, this is a huge showdown between two of the biggest stars in the sport.
From my article...
The current age of boxing sells the paying public on the concept of super fights. Titles don’t matter and weight classes don’t matter. Even a fighter’s recent poor performance or lack of activity can be overlooked, so long as he can be properly packaged into something that fans are willing to pay for. A case in point would be 2007’s version of “The Fight to Save Boxing,” featuring Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. Coming into the fight, De La Hoya had been in the ring a mere 6 times in the last 5 years, going 4-2 during that span. The fight was held at 154 pounds, a weight that Mayweather had never fought at before, and has not since. Despite the fact that many more “relevant” fights could have been made, none could have been as profitable, and the Cinco De Mayo showdown set records for revenue and PPV buys. Other examples include the Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins farce, Manny Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya, and many others.
In a break from the norm, this Saturday features a true super-fight. Floyd Mayweather (40-0) and “Sugar” Shane Mosley (46-5) have been engaged in a cold war for over a decade. Despite call-outs from each camp over the years, the fight never materialized. Until now.
I feel like I waste a lot of time. Most of the time when I feel I am being unproductive, it is when I am playing around on-line. While checking and playing around on facebook, proving people wrong on internet forums and keeping up to date on the most minor of details that happen in the sport of boxing would certainly qualify, by any definition, to be wasted time, I do not always have a productive alternative. Sometimes, there really is nothing to rush for, and I don't know why I have such a hard time relaxing and taking things slower. I mean, if I am going to play around on the web, I might as well just call that 20-30 minutes a wash and enjoy myself rather than feel guilty the whole time.
Another example was with my parents this last weekend. Rather than deal with finding parking in Los Angeles, we just walked everywhere. Both my Mom and my Dad noticed and checked out everything on every walk. They noticed much more about my new neighborhood in 2 days than I have in almost a month. They commented and examined every flower garden of every neighbor that we passed, they noticed a building that says "Martin," and they pointed out dozens of cool new restaurants that I should try. After a while, it even started to irritate me, as if we were taking too long exploring cool stuff and talking to interesting people, when we should be charging it towards our destination. I had to remind myself that we weren't on any schedule, had no reservations anywhere, and that talking to each other while walking was the same as talking anywhere else.
I don't know what I am trying to get done, or where I am trying to go so quickly, but I need to chill out. Doing something enjoyable is reason enough for doing it...providing of course, that said action is of the legal and ethical variety. That's why it should be ok for me to lie on the sofa and read a novel for a few hours if that is what I feel like doing.
Of course, some discipline is needed, but looking at things objectively, I have to admit that I am progressing in all areas that I care about progressing in. Professionally, I am doing well enough. I have more freedom than most, in a job that gives me satisfaction and a sense of pride for the work that I am doing, for a salary that works for my lifestyle. Athletically, I am accomplishing my goals. While I will still compete in amateur boxing, I am willing to let the sport be second (or 3rd or 4th) in my life. I have been training consistently, sparring when it is available, and learning and growing. As a brother, son, grandson, and friend, I would like to be better. But I am there for people when they need me, and I feel like my relationship with my immediate family gets better all the time. So...things are going well. And while I hope to never be satisfied and complacent, I am going to try to enjoy myself and live more in the moment. Maybe I'll even check out the neighbor's flower garden.
Today I want to do things to be doing them, not to be doing something else. I do not want to do things to sell myself on myself. I don't want to do nice things for people so that I will be "nice." I don't want to work for money, I want to work to work. Today I don't want to live for, I want to live.
Last weekend, Dennis and I competed in the Southern California version of the Warrior Dash. I was going to wait until they posted the pictures, but they are taking their time, and I just can't stand it anymore. Disregarding what that says about my patience levels, the first question is probably "what is a warrior dash?" First of all, it's actually WARRIOR DASH, in all capitals, because it's just that awesome. Lower case letters are for chumps.
The Warrior Dash is a 3 mile race, complete with cool obstacles like jumping over fire, crawling through the mud, climbing a cargo net, wrasslin' alligators, and the like. People get all dolled up like various warriors throughout history. There were Spartans, Ninjas, Samurai, Knights, a few "300" rejects, and quite a few less identifiable types, one of which had goggles and a sparkly purple cape. I kind of wanted the cape. It looked like something Clara would make me if I still lived in San Francisco. Much like my shiny crown that I got for being King. Or maybe it was my birthday...I don't recall at the moment.
Anyway. The race was held in a lovely part of California known as Lake Elsinore. The town is basically a dust bowl with a small...I hesitate to call it a lake, but I suppose that's the official term. Swimming in it would most likely result in the unfortunate individual growing a third arm...probably out of their forehead.
Dennis and I carpooled, while he bitched and whined about driving his BMW on the dirt parking lot. We signed in, registered and collected our goodie bags. As far as I was concerned, we could have left right then. I was finally the proud owner of a kickass war helmet. Fuzzy and with white horns on the sides. Goddamn, it was cool. Dennis wore his with the horns forward and back, like he was a freakin' rhino. I kind of wished I had thought of the idea first.
The goodie bags also included a ticket for one free beer apiece. Dilemma. We had been fore-warned that the line to collect the beers was ridiculous in the afternoons after the races were over. We had time to spare, and you can only look at so many costumed freaks dead sober. In unspoken agreement, we headed to the beer gardens to collect. As warriors should, we chugged, rather than sipped our brews, and then headed back to the start line. Both of us were pleasantly surprised by the volume and quality of the the female...umm..warrioresses. Dennis nodded approvingly.
We were both registered for the Noon wave, and we got up near the front of the starting line. A few hundred others joined us. The DJ got us revved up with some AC-DC and Metallica before leading us into a few deep and bass-heavy war cries. With a huge shot, they sparked a giant flame-thrower thing, and fire exploded 10 feet above our head. Dennis and I exchanged a fist-pound like we were the Obamas, and we were off. One guy in a referee costume sprinted ahead, and I settled into a small group 5-6 places back. Realizing that I would not be able to sustain a dead sprint for over 3 miles, I eased back slightly and found a good pace somewhere around 10th-12th place. A few people dropped back as they came to the same conclusion that I had. I started regretting the beer that I had pounded right before.
The first obstacle was bounding up and over bales of hay. Not too bad, and I gained a few places. Almost immediately was the second one, and we got to hop and over a bunch of old cars. It felt good to smash the hoods with my heels. A wooden wall to clamber over was next, and I started getting annoyed with all the obstacles getting in the way of my running. The next one was probably the worst for throwing off your pace, as you had to drop and crawl through a tunnel. I think I was around 6th place by then, and dying a slow, irritable and petulant death, while blaming Dennis for forcing the beer on me.
We had about a half mile respite, before traversing thin wooden planks over a shallow ravine. That one was no problem. The course then took us to water's edge, and we plunged into the waist-deep water in order to vault ourselves over some wooden logs set there to piss us off. This was the worst obstacle, as everything was now soaked. The first steps on solid ground were miserable, as our shoes felt like they were made out of cement. I passed somebody here, and I was in 4th. At this point, my faulty memory convinced me that everyone who places in the top 3 per heat got prizes, so I picked up the pace. I ran over the jungle of old tires, and gained on the guy in 3rd. The cargo net was easy, but I appreciated the chance to rest slightly. I passed the guy in 3rd shortly before we got to jump over a blazing inferno, and he dropped back almost immediately. I told myself it was obviously because I killed his heart by passing him. The best obstacle was the last, and you got to dive into a pit of mud. There was razer-wire above the bog, so you had to really get in there. Which was pretty fun. I love playing in the mud. I was securely in 3rd, but too far away to make a push for 2nd, so I didn't kill myself on the last stretch. I upped the ante slightly, but fell short of a flat-out sprint to finish.
I crossed the finish line to be handed a regular medal. Not a 3rd place medal, but a regular medal. Apparently, only people who place for the entire DAY get better prizes.
I whined to myself while I waited for Dennis. I consoled myself by recognizing that I got first place out of everyone who was wearing their war helmet during the race. VICTORY! God, I love the sweet nectar of victory. Yum.
Dennis came charging up shortly after, and we dunked ourselves in the "lake." More fist pounds.
As we were out of free beer tickets and/or money, we took off to our buddy's house for beer and BBQ. More free beer. We showed off our war helmets and shiny medals. At some point, my man Mike had enough beers for us to convince him that he should go swimming in Lake Elsinore. He hopped in, clothes and all. Two kids heard us laughing and came over to check out the joke. They were greeted by the sight of a 6'6" monster, stumbling out of the lake like a black Jesus coming for their souls.
Having came, seen and conquered, we headed back to the car for the long drive home. Post-run fuel was brought to you by Boston Baked Bean candies, which were amazing. Nom Nom Nom.
I passed out by 9:30am.
A day later, we were able to check our scores. I got 25th out of the 2599 person field. So...no bigger medal. This gave me a sad.
Rather than continue boring the readers who couldn't care less about boxing, I am starting a new site for the topic at In The Trenches. The site will focus on a detailed analysis of the sport, from the fighters, to the trainers, managers and promoters. There will be an emphasis on the deep corruption rooted within the power structure, but will also highlight those cases where boxing becomes bigger than a mere game.
My friend Clara, of whom you know from her antagonistic participation in many adventures and bouts of debauchery, wrote up her trip report from our summit of Pyramid Peak. It's hilarious, despite picking on me a lot. She almost hurt my feeling.
I met my first real-life blogger! Like, the first one that I didn't know already. I met Lorien from "Wayfaring Stranger" for a hike in the Topanga State Park. Pretty country for Los Angeles. We went uphill, we went downhill, I showed off my route-finding skills by carefully reading the trail signs, and then we battled a python!
One of my favorite sites on the web these days is The Art of Manliness. For the last month or so, they have had a multi-part series on identifying and building your resilience, a trait they identify as "hardiness."
I have really been enjoying it, and while some of it is of the "no shit" variety about not letting external events affect your internal thoughts and beliefs, there have been some absolute gems as well. Gender neutering and a disregard for basic differences between men and women seems so common today that it is refreshing to find a site that attempts to speak to that primordial soup that makes up "man" or "maleness."
In the 5th segment of the series, the author discusses identifying and utilizing your signature strengths, and provides a link to a survey that helps with the process. The survey's authors had conducted research which yielded 6 core virtues, identified as Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, and Inter-connectedness (transcendence). These were identified as virtues that had been prized and respected throughout history and across different religions and cultures. This was further broken down into 24 character strengths, and their quiz scores how you stack up to the rest of the population on these characteristics.
Here's my results, along with my notes for each:
1. Wisdom and Knowledge-cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge
Creativity: Defined as "Thinking of novel and productive ways to do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it." I scored very high here, and I believe that that is accurate. At work and in my personal life, I usually look for ways to make things better or more efficient.
Curiosity: Defined as "Taking an interest in all of ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering" I scored very low here, and that makes sense. I am very curious about some things, but I am not interested in all subjects. I tend to immerse myself in the things that affect me, and ignore everything else.
Open-Mindedness: Defined as"Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one's mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly." I scored well here, although I do think that I often jump to conclusions, and I am usually pretty stubborn about changing my mind.
Love of Learning: Defined as "Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally; obviously related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows." Scored VERY low here, but I do not think that is very accurate. I may have a more narrow field of interest than some others, but I read voraciously, and I enjoy adding new skills, learning new things, etc.
Perspective: Defined as "Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and to other people."Scored well here, in the 70th percentile. Obviously folks, I has wisdom, and you should listen to me.
2. Courage-emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external or internal.
Bravery: Defined as "Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what is right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it." Scored in the mid 80's here. I feel that I am likely to tell you what I think, regardless of whether you hold that same belief or if it is a popular stance. I also think that I have a high pain tolerance and will persist in the face of difficulty.
Persistence: Defined as "Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles; "getting it out out the door"; taking pleasure in completing tasks." Scored on about the average here, which surprised me. In general, I complete what I start, and I definitely take pleasure in accomplishing goals.
Integrity: Defined as "Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions." Scored well here. I do think that I have stripped away a lot of my pretensions, but have a long way to go still.
Vitality: "Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated."Scored about the average here, and that surprised me. However, I do tend to "drift" at times, living a status-quo lifestyle for a stretch before jumping into a million adventures, so maybe it's the lack of consistency that got me on this one.
3. Humanity-interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others
Love: "Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated; being close to people." Scored high here, especially in compared to other men. A little surprised, as I tend to go hermit-style at times.
Kindness: "Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them." Hmm...apparently, I am a selfish bastard.
Social Intelligence: "Being aware of the motives and feelings of other people and oneself; knowing what to do to fit in to different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick; Social intelligence." Scored terribly here. I actually think I am aware of what is needed to fit into social situations, I just rarely care enough to make that effort. But I AM in sales, and I can create a rapport with people when I want to. Not sure I agree with the test's score on this one.
4. Justice-civic strengths that underlie healthy community life
Citizenship: "Working well as member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share." Did not score too hot here. I prefer working alone, that is true.
Fairness: "Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting personal feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance." Scored above average on fairness. I do make snap judgments about people though.
Leadership: "Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen." Scored low, as expected. I am not a leader. I don't consider myself a follower either, I think that I just do my own thing. I rarely have any interest in organizing or leading people. Usually have the belief that everyone should act in accordance with their beliefs and what they think is best.
5. Temperance-strengths that protect against excess.
Forgiveness and Mercy: "Forgiving those who have done wrong; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful." Scored average. I tend not to forgive for doing me wrong.
Humility/Modesty: "Letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves; not seeking the spotlight; not regarding one's self as more special than one is." Scored low, which is obviously ridiculous! I am so humble that NO ONE is more humble than me. That's why I have a blog..oh, wait.
Prudence: "Being careful about one's choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted." This apparently was where I scored the highest. Considering my choice of hobbies include combat sports and a myriad of outdoors activities of varying degrees of danger, I am not convinced. I AM pretty careful about what I say to people and who I decide to invest myself in. It wasn't always like that, but I have improved over the last few years.
Self-regulation: "Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one's appetites and emotions." Scored low on self-control, which makes sense...kind of. I think I have more discipline than most, despite what the test says. I definitely need to improve by a huge amount regarding excess and my control of it, however.
6. Transcendence-strengths that forge connections to other people and the larger universe and provide meaning.
Appreciation of beauty and excellence (awe, wonder, elevation): "Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience." Scored low here, and I agree with it in terms of my appreciation for humanities like music and art. I can appreciate a sunset or mountain view as well as anyone though.
Gratitude: "Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks." About average here. I should be more appreciative.
Hope: "Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about." Scored very high here, almost in the 90's. This one I strongly agree with, and I believe that my faith that the future is something malleable is one of my biggest strengths. I do not believe in luck or fate, just cause and effect. That is immensely empowering, and I love feeling that I am responsible for what I get out of life.
The point of learning these things about yourself is to play to your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. For me, the test reaffirmed that my basic make-up is solid; I work hard, treat people fairly, and I have working levels of grit, intelligence and enthusiasm. I could do with a bit more discipline and strength of mind, along with a wider appreciation for people, beliefs and experiences that are foreign to me.