Obstacles in Life

There was a change in Thursday’s practice schedule. It was a little chaotic, and Alec didn’t have a chance to warm-up. This was my fault. I should have had him do it on his own or work a few minutes with the other class.

Right away, I could tell something was off. So far this season, Alec has had phenomenal practices. He has been attentive to the lectures and has given 100% in the drills. I have been happy with his progress. But at this practice, that wasn’t the case. He was distracted during the lectures which made his drill practice subpar. And then when it was time to wrestle, he had no confidence and was beaten by everyone he went against. What was going on?

After every practice, Alec and I have an After-Action Review (AAR). The one after this practice didn’t go well. I highlighted all the things he did wrong. Usually, I start with all the positives and then proceed to the areas he can work on. But in this case, it was all negative. As his athletic manager, I dropped the ball and didn’t consider the underlying factors. Later that night, we talked about what could have been better. We both agreed this was a one-off event, and we would do our best to learn from it and then move on. We also talked about why he was wrestling and its real-world applications.

The Obvious

The obvious application is how to handle a physical confrontation with another person. Wrestling is a great preventative measure against bullies. Bullies do not prefer to prey on a superior target. It does not enhance their reputations if they cannot defeat their opponent. Therefore, the bully looks to target a victim that is deemed mentally and/or physically weaker. A strong capable body and mind is one’s best defense against the bully.

In Relation to Math

As a part of our conversation, we discussed math. Mathematicians must be able to solve the problem in front of them. These problems range in complexity. Some problems are seen often. Once we understand the steps to solve them,  the problems become easier. But other problems are more complex and require more time and effort. Fortunately, most problems have a solution.

The wrestler’s problem is the opponent. The skillset, speed, and strength of the opponent determines the complexity. And like math, there is usually an available solution. The winner of the match is the one who discovers the solution the quickest.

In NOT Giving Up

Wrestling is one of the great sports that effectively taxes the mind and body. Enough pain and frustration will cause the faint of heart to throw in the towel. For the wrestler, the key to victory lies in overcoming the desire to give up. After all, the last one standing gets the crown.

Alec may not participate in the sport of wrestling his whole life. Yet, he will be wrestling throughout his lifetime. He is going to face situations where quitting will be an available option. Whether it is frustration with friends and family, co-workers and supervisors, or kings and countries, he will have to navigate seemingly insurmountable obstacles. What he does now will develop him to meet those future challenges head-on.

The real obstacles in life lie in the heart of man.

Bertrand Russell

The real beauty of wrestling is that it develops confidence and courage. To show hesitation is to show a lack of both. Currently, Alec has neither as a wrestler. He will get there, but he isn’t there yet. My job as his “manager” is to get him there. Of course, I want him to win, but winning at this stage is less important than his journey to excellence. Time under tension is one the best ways to develop muscles. Time under tension (experience) on the mat is going build both his confidence and courage. It is going to enable him to overcome the obstacles he is facing now and the future real obstacles he is going to face in life.

Difficulty shows what men are. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat.

Epictetus

Needless Worry

I have been holding a little stress lately, and I think I can even feel it in my midsection. This stress is the culmination of many different things, mostly the things which haven’t even happened yet. It is an uncertain future, and it is affecting my mind today.

The choices of my past have led me to this. It is good that I reflect on the past in the hopes of not repeating it tomorrow. But once I give its the due measure it deserves, I must let it go and move on. It is one of the core tenets of my philosophy. It is also one of the hardest ones to adhere to.

On the way home from Parkour practice, my son asked me an interesting question. “What is Space Force,” he asked. He saw the flag during the National Anthem at the beginning of the Superbowl. I told him it was an attempt to get back to where we used to be. As a nation, we once used to be at the forefront of space exploration. But the years went by, the funding went away, and eventually so did our preeminence.

“Oh,” he said, “I thought it was to keep the asteroids from hitting the planet.”

A fair point. We then discussed our inability to stop such cataclysmic events. Our conversation ranged from asteroids, dinosaurs, ice ages, super-volcanoes, and floods. They happen every so often. And no matter how great or advanced we think we are, there are some things we cannot avoid. Seeing as how they are out of our control; we can’t worry about the possibility of them occurring in the future. We must live in the present.

A great many worries can be diminished by realizing the unimportance of the matter which is causing the anxiety.

Bertrand Russell

It was a simple run-of-the-mill talk we had, but I wonder if he can do it. Can he live a life in the present, free of the shackles that are attached to the past and the present? I hope he will be able to. I hope there will come a time that I may be able to do it also. I am not there yet, but I think I am getting closer.


Feature photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash