A Life Lesson from Kickboxing
Monday, May 4, 2015
This I Believe: Courage, Resolve, and Imagination
By: Connor Dean, Sec. 8, Group 1
Part I: Courage
Courage is a very important thing for people to have. That may come off as the most cliché statement to have ever been written, but it’s true. I know I don’t look the physical type, but I actually used to be into kickboxing. I did it for over four years. It was one of the most thrilling activities I’ve ever engaged in, but it was also the window to some of the most terrifying and intimidating moments in my life. I stepped into matches with some of the toughest types of people there were: UFC fighters, Black Belts, and even the First Alternate on the US Olympic Sparring Team. These people were the toughest they come, and they all had the credentials to kick my butt. Courage is the only thing that helped me step into the ring with them.
That may seem to be an extreme example, but here’s the point: all throughout life, we as human beings are going to face opposition in anything we do. And sometimes, that opposition isn’t going to be something easy, like taking a test or having to write a paper. Sometimes your opposition is going to be a towering, muscular mass that you have no idea how to handle, speaking metaphorically, of course. One day you might be going to a job interview and find out that every other candidate is more impressive than you. Being in a situation like that feels hopeless, and that’s where courage comes in. Courage is what gave me the fire to step into the ring, to face down whatever might come my way and let it know that I’m not going to go down without a fight. Courage is what drives human beings to overcome adversity.
I take that courage with me everywhere I go. It’s not because I believe I can punch and kick my way through every problem I come across, but rather so I can look at each of those problems and consciously decide that I can overcome whatever may happen. Every major person in the history of mankind had to have courage to state what they believed and to fight for that belief. Martin Luther King, Jr. had that courage. Gandhi had that courage. George Washington had that courage. So I carry it too, because courage is what truly drives people to accomplish their dreams.
Part II: Resolve
A Life Lesson from Broken Ribs
Courage is a fantastic thing to have, but it isn’t the only important thing to have. Resolve is equally important, if not more so. Don’t confuse the two; they are complimentary, not synonymous. Courage is similar to putting the key in the ignition of your car: it gets you started, but that’s it. Resolve, on the other hand, is the gasoline in your car: it’s the real force that takes you to your goals.
The first time I was able to discern the difference between these two was during a kickboxing match between me and another. About halfway through this match, my opponent found an opening in my defenses, and like lightning, delivered a kick that broke two of my ribs and winded me. The mentality that courage was the ultimate driving force behind me vanished in that instant, replaced by pain and an unrelenting need to gasp for air. Two broken ribs is an easy reason for me to back out of a match, but I didn’t. I was afraid, but I shook my head and stepped back into the fight. That feeling, that I would continue even if I faced being broken, was resolve.
The point of this is simple. We as human beings are fragile, but only as bodies. Our wills won’t break from broken ribs, or whatever overpowering forces you’re struck with throughout life, literal or metaphorical. I am as durable as I believe myself to be. Courage is the belief that you can face whatever opposes you, resolve is the will to prove it.
Part III: Imagination
A Life Lesson from Writing
A personal passion of mine is writing fiction. I primarily focus on writing fantasy-genre stories (that being the kind of stories that involve swords, magic, and dragons), but I’ve also dabbled in science-fiction and also have some outlines for action-thriller and even superhero styled stories. The theme that I enjoy exploring the most is the idea of enmity, especially between estranged family members. There’s a reason for that: it stems from the less-than-ideal relationship that I’ve had with my own father.
Something that you learn from writing fiction, something that really, really defies explanation, is that dealing with characters, even if they are restricted to a piece of paper, is still like dealing with real people. You define their personalities so that they react to the situations you place them in. Writing characters that feel mutual enmity toward each other isn’t difficult, but writing them to overcome that obstacle is difficult. It's like convincing real people not to hate each other. You have to use imagination to see each character through the other’s perspective.
This idea of using my imagination to try to understand what other people are feeling has an application in reality. It’s easy to shut other people out, ignore their problems, and simply dislike them just because they’re in your way. It was easy for me to walk away from my father once I turned eighteen and not see anything from his perspective. But, being imaginative and getting into writing like did once I started college, I started thinking about what my father was going through. Eventually, I understood what he felt, dealing with a dead-end job and a son that didn’t appreciate him. I understood that I was the ignorant one. After that, my father and I made amends and now, I go to visit him regularly.
Imagination got me there. Despite its connotation, it doesn’t always mean fanciful thinking. Imagination means expanding your mind and seeing reality through different perspectives, even if sometimes those perspectives are entirely fictional, or if those perspectives are from people that maybe you don’t think very fondly of. But if you try to change your perspective and see the problem from a different angle, then perhaps you might be able to make a change in yourself and overcome whatever stands between you and others.