One thing fighting teaches better than anything is consequence. No other sport comes close. When you come face to face with failure in fighting, well, it's different. Don't finish a race, lose a game, get pulled for a bad performance...yeah, none of those feels quite like losing a fight does.
But the beauty of fighting is the consequence. It's why it's fun. You know that you better put your best effort forward because, wow, it can get bad if you don't. The worst thing I have ever seen happen to someone when they lose a race or a game is they have to hang their heads in some semblance of shame. Sometimes, not even that much takes place.
Lose a fight, though? Ugh. Worst feeling ever. It reaches into your soul in a way nothing else does; the closest corollary is having someone break up with you. It messes with you deep inside.
Which is why I have always said that I would rather win injured than lose healthy. If I fight, I am completely at peace with the consequences. (Though as the years go by and the issues of CTE and other brain impairments become realities, we shall see if I am still at peace with my combatives past.) Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am not in this life to leave a pretty corpse when all is said and done; scrapes, sutures, and scars have been constant companions and I expect to get reacquainted again before all is said and done.
I have two major competitions this weekend. Both are in the sport of duathlon, a ride-run-ride hybridization that often gets lumped under triathlons (yes, the ones Nick and Nate Diaz do in their offseasons). The problem is that I was in a foot cast for five months and at the time of this writing, I can't even walk without a limp. Running and cycling? Who knows.
But I'm still going to compete. Partly because I love competing and partly because I have accepted that I might be going to the hospital for surgery right after the first run of run-bike-run, let alone the last one on the second day.
Fighting taught me that.
At this stage of my life, I can honestly say fighting--in whichever incarnation you point to--has made me better. It has opened doors that otherwise would have been closed to me and it has provided a type of perspective that is largely absent in many of those around me. What you learn in a ring or across from another person trying to do you harm as you try to visit the same upon them is something that no other sport has ever given me.
...and I've played a few.
So raise a glass for me this weekend as I step onto the road for yet another sport in which I am going to have compete hurt--something that fighting taught me how to do because, in the end, I would rather win injured than watch from the sidelines healthy.
And I'll raise a glass to the consequences.
Here's to the pain.