"Everyone is improved and preserved by corresponding acts: the carpenter by acts of carpentry, the grammarian by the acts of good grammar. But if a man accustoms himself to write ungrammatically, of necessity his art will be corrupted and destroyed. Thus modest actions preserve the modest man, and immodest actions destroy him. Actions of fidelity preserve the faithful man, and the contrary actions destroy him." (1)In short, "we are what we repeatedly do." (2) It is common to consider philosophy in all its forms to be merely a system of thinking. Often neglected is the fact that philosophy is designed to let us live better. Through study and practice, we develop a system of thinking that governs correct action. The physical practice part is the easiest to neglect. When one thinks of spiritual or philosophical practice, they probably think of such acts as meditation or study. These are certainly good and useful examples, but they do not take into account that the conclusions that we come to mentally must be acted on in the day-to-day process of our lives.
I am transitioning from western boxing to Muay Thai kickboxing. While both are stand-up combat sports, there are quite a few differences, and many of the habits that I have learned to be "good" in boxing are resulting in my taking a lot of beatings in Muay Thai. Also, having developed some degree of competency in boxing over the years, it has been quite a while since I took much of a beating. For the first time in a long time I am finding myself on the bottom of the totem pole. I have solid defense from a boxing perspective, but that did not keep me from getting my nose damn near broken in the first two weeks of Muay Thai.
Wednesdays are the main sparring days at the new gym. I was supposed to miss the session this week because I had an appointment in Los Angeles during the class time. Last minute, my appointment got rescheduled and now I find myself available. Because I had mentally "checked out" for the day, the realization that I no longer had an excuse not to go hit me like a bucket of cold water. For a while, I considered other options. I could go for a run, which I told myself would be almost as good, and would work on my conditioning. I could use a day off, as I was already beaten up from the last couple of days. After all, the rest time would "do me good."
When we have this conversation with ourself, it is simply because we want to avoid doing the thing that needs to be done. It is a battle with ourself, and these battles must be won. "It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men." (3)
As I endeavor to be a faithful, persistent and disciplined man, I recognize that it is only through consistent acts of fidelity, persistence and discipline that it can be achieved. So this afternoon I will ignore that fact that today was supposed to be a day off and I will do the thing that should be done.
Quotes from today's posts attributed to Epictetus, Aristotle, Vince Lombardi.