Hit Me With Your Best Shot

As a fan of contests and contestants, I have observed the physical nature of combat on the playing field in many guises.  There are some events requiring direct (and sometimes vicious) bodily contact while others emphasize exertion and expertise in a more singular manner.  It is precisely this spectacle which gives the several strivings their allure.  For one thing, it’s more interesting for people to watch others do what they themselves cannot do.  Another is that we respect the fine tuning required for excellence if we shudder at the repercussions of virtuosity.  Injuries are common in any athletic event, and some so devastating as to cause the maimed to question their participation.  For all this, there is no lack of desire to see or determination to experience competition.  Each of these has taught lessons to my soul as I have come to understand that life itself is a contact sport.

Exertion is required for mastery.  This principle is not limited to physicality, but it is difficult to conceive of any more ethereal pursuits which do not have physical components.  Mind and body work together in creating the whole with each influencing the other to a marked degree.  Each area of life touches on others and we employ ourselves as athletes in competition every day.  Life is competitive.  It’s a rough and tumble world, and we are prone to stress fractures from overuse as much as the blind-side hit.  The nature of living wears us down, and the burden of years becomes unsustainable even as the conditioning of each competitor wanes in the passing of time.  Soon, we are relegated to age categories since our competitive juices are wrung out as surely as a rag in the hands of a worker.  Exhaustion becomes the order of the day though the desire to set even a personal best is not lost.

Many are sidelined by the aggressive if not illegal tactics of others.  We will never know what an athlete cut down in the prime of life might have accomplished.  A Hall of Fame career is largely dependent on good health, and the team which wins the playoffs will likely be the one with a hale roster at the end of the season.  In a similar way, certain suffer such wretched treatment in life as to lose their competitive edge if not ability.  It cannot be doubted that some have a higher tolerance for pain as fighters may be renowned for their rock or glass jaw.  One thing for sure is
that the fighter KOed in a contest becomes susceptible to future knockouts.  The same thing happens in football as a joint injury leads to future injuries if not a shortened career.  Few if any will accomplish enough in the short-term to become household names regardless of the brightness of their shooting star.

When Clubber Lang said to his opponent, “Gonna bust you up,” Rocky replied, “Go for it.”  There are times when a person will have to climb into the ring and brace for combat whether they are conversive in the sweet science or not.  You can’t stop the train.  The fight may be brought to you rather than the other way around.  Despite the oft quoted “it takes two,” it does not take two for there to be conflict.  It only takes one.  Most often, in such cases, injury is intended and will be accomplished whether or not a successful defense is raised.  When Johnny Cash explained why a man named his son, Sue, he sang, “Son, this world is rough, and it if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough.”  Though it is daunting to fight and fearsome to compete, willing or no, the game will be lost if it is not contested.  Fight we must if our cause is just.  There is much at stake.

The very wise have failed in setting priorities, and each of us is apt to make mistakes in knowing when to stand and when to give way.  This being said, we all need to hallow some ground from which we will not retreat.  The fiber of our beings will strain under the pressure of unhappy chance though it be, indeed, in the will of God.  Life is a struggle under the best of conditions.  There will be times (may they be few) when your resolution will be tested by attacks from others who falsely blame or mischaracterize you.  It is then that you will search your soul and deepen you relationship with God, and these will be good.  Some will have more than their share of conflict and find that they need wait for the upward call to have rest.  In my life, fortitude has been built through trial and error and difficult stands on narrow ground.  To stand, I have had to face what I would not embrace.  Fire away.

Sterl  

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