The Boxer

There’s a saying that goes as follows: I enjoyed boxing, until I got knocked down. I didn’t enjoy it that much after that, so I quit. (Ok, so I’m not sure if the saying goes exactly like that, but it’ll have to do.)

I claim many titles, but ‘boxer’ has never been one of them. My arms don’t contain the strength to do such an amount of damage. I’ve always called myself a fighter, a survivor, but never a boxer. For some reason, being a boxer has always had a negative connotation for me. I’m not interested in punching anyone in the face or the gut for no reason, I’m just trying to get through life the same way that many people are. But then I think about it, and I realize that  ‘fighter’ and  ‘survivor’ sound cowardly. They go through life with their fists in the air, but they never punch because they are afraid to get knocked down. And if they get knocked down, most times, they stay down. A boxer punches, gets knocked down, gets bloodied and bruised. If he’s a good boxer, he’ll get up and keep fighting, no matter the damage.

There goes a story of a baby in his mother’s womb. He lives for nine months in comfort and warmth. Food and shelter are provided and there is not a worry in the world that could harm him. He is safe. For close to 10 months he is completely content. Occasionally, the home shakes and quakes, but after a while, he grows used to it.  Then, one day, he feels shaking like he’s never felt before. The fear rises in him as he realizes that the home he has become so comfortable in is about to fall apart. Here it comes, the end of the world.  What a fear it is. And yet, he trusts that everything will work out fine. He has complete faith that he is safe. In the end, though the transition is tough and uncomfortable, he is born into a world where he is embraced and loved. There is life here, and life is good. How could he prefer his comfort zone, the womb, over such a wonderful place? Ah, such is life.

I see the same fear is so many people I meet. It’s impossible to go through life without being tested. Some of us are tested in big ways, some in little ways. There are the people that hide their tests well, and do their absolute best to stay positive. And then there are those whose tests are written all over their faces. You can see them everywhere: The tests that they go through and the burdens they carry on their backs. I see it in the one’s who put a smile on their faces and try to weather the storm, but all the while, their insides are just as stormy.  I see the tests in their eyes, in the way they carry their bodies, in their smiles, their frowns. I see them most of all in the way that they respond when I ask them how they’re doing. Of the many people I have come across during my young life, almost everyone answers with: “Fine, thank G-d.” The storm shakes them around, strips them of their dignity…and yet, they still answer with “Thank G-D.” or “Baruch Hashem.” Baruch Hashem.

No matter what is happening in my life, I somehow always manage to answer the same way. Why is it that even during the most difficult times, I still find room in my life for G-d? Because, the truth is that, no matter what happens to me, there will always be room for G-d. If I don’t thank Him during the bad times, I very well can’t thank Him when the going gets easy again. The attitude of gratitude during the testy times is incredibly difficult, but it’s the most grounding of all solutions. I see it on the people that struggle the most, and it’s bewildering. How can they still thank G-d during illnesses, tragedies, disasters, and pain? I guess the real question here is how can they not? Not giving thanks for what you have been given is like the boxer that gets knocked out, and just stays on the floor, too tired or humiliated to give it another go. If I throw my hands up in the air and give up every time I face difficulty, I’m a coward. A survivor, a fighter, but not a boxer.

Having faith and trust are about the two hardest things in the world. It’s easy to trust and have faith when things are easy. How could it not be? But then, the road gets rocky, and most people (or maybe it’s just me) go into survival mode. Where’s the trust? Where’s the faith? They’re collecting dust somewhere while you cower and fear for your life. You’re like the boxer that has been punched lightly once and decides to give up his career. You fall, but you don’t get up and try again.

Like the baby leaving the womb and coming into the world, one must have complete faith. What will be and how it will come to be are not in our hands. How the road will be paved or what it will be paved of don’t matter, at least not where faith is concerned. You have to trust that everything will work out.

Being a part of the world in a healthy, mindful, present sense means learning to have complete faith that things will work out. Living in this world means that instead of cowering away, or giving up when the going gets a bit tough, get up and keep going. You’re not here merely to survive or fight your way through the world. Walk with a bounce in your step, and sense of pride for who you are and what you have been brought to the world to do. If you get knocked down, it’s okay to cry, or feel the blow deep within you. However, it doesn’t mean that you should remain on the floor and give up. The best boxer is the one that goes for the win, even if his face is bloody, bruised and his body aches.

So ask yourself: Are you merely a survivor, or are you a boxer?

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