When Stalking Wolf gave us a test, it was not a test in the sense that it could be graded. It was a way of knowing what to work on next. The importance of the test was not the results but what we did with them. A limitless commitment to learning was less important than knowing the limits we had and what they were. Our training was a matter of defining our limits to ourselves as well as a way of sharpening our skills. The essential question anyone needs to ask to survive is, ‘what do I need most and how can I get it’? -The Tracker – The true story of Tom Brown Jr.
We live a life of extreme shelter and safety.
Houses are built to keep things out.
This kind of living has translated into fears of failure….a desire to be perfect and pristine. I watch the incredible freezing creep into folks bodies as I show them their stance and how to advance and retreat and ask them to repeat what I demonstrated. I watch the stutter that shimmies through their entire body before movement happens…almost as if they know they will fail and why should they begin? I watch the nervous laughter as they try and excommunicate the discomfort they feel when the moves don’t come out quite right.
Boxing is a long time sport. It takes a long time to move smooth in footwork and it takes even longer to understand leverage. Add in the threat of a punch and now you have a lifetime practice of not being good at something. A lifetime of learning.
We learned two things from our tests, the limits of our power and the limits of our will. One was a measurement of skill and the other was the measurement of our personality. Most people underestimate their abilities because they have never had a chance to test their limits.
It’s easy to quit before you start. It’s even easier to get started, get somewhere and then quit. Because you know what it took just to get the few steps you took and sometimes the thought of traveling further is unbearable……but how will you know if you don’t keep moving? Often times it is simply the “idea of” and not the “actual” that dictates our decisions.
I’m up here in GlenAllen and sometimes I feel like quitting before I start. The set up is even more rudimentary than what we have at the gym. No cable machines, only a few fixed points. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of not being able to make a difference, at not being able to help. I feel overwhelmed at my lack of knowledge and ability.
I look down the trail as it disappears into what seems to be a cliff. I remember to start simple. To not look for any change, to not look for immediacy. This is where my personality will be tested. Can I simply do the basics over and over again, knowing that this is what it takes to get the skill to scale that cliff when it comes? This is where my need to feel effective will be challenged because it could be months or more before I see any changes……..What am I doing this for? To feel important, or do I believe in the work?