Last night I watched a documentary with my husband that followed three men running across the Sahara Desert. All the way across. The ultimate message that I took with me was that the grand picture is what carries meaning – there’s a point A and a point B, but the entirety of the experience is between those two points. Like how on a gravestone you see two dates of birth and death, but the entirety of a life is that little dash in between. There is no way to express all that is contained in that middle line, the path from one ocean to the other. The glory swallows the pain that got them there; the details soften into single moments spread out across an entire continent.
This is what I’ve been feeling about my Muay Thai path as of late. There is no intended point A or point B in the long run, but like a lifetime it is ubiquitously defined by a start and a finish, no matter how either of those come about. I will fight until I stop, with no known ocean as my finish point. And the road has become more challenging.
Like an ultra runner, there must be the first pains – blisters, sun burn, tired muscles – but they eventually disappear behind the greater pains, the more pernicious ailments of the mind: doubt, fear, disappointment. The only thing you can do when out in the Sahara with your ghosts all shrieking within you is to keep running. And that’s what I do in my Muay Thai. I’ve lost every fight for almost 2 years now, 6 in a row. I was reading Sam Sheridan’s sophomore book, “A Fighter’s Mind” and near the end he mentions Clara De La Torre, a Mexican boxer who had a 6 fight losing streak and described it as “surfing the Apocalypse.” I imagine that’s a pretty good description for how those men felt, running for 10 hours in 140 degree heat, every day for 111 days.
In my life, due to its relative instability to begin with, when stuff starts falling apart it takes a lot down with it. When the car breaks down it’s always an expensive fix and there will be some kind of emergency in the house at the same time. Recently, I had a minor surgery that resulted in some serious and potentially life-threatening complications in the aftermath, which manifested as a very difficult and painful recovery [update: I wrote about this 2+ years later]. I worked through the pain but had to take off from training and ultimately had to pull out of an upcoming fight at the start of March because I couldn’t get medical clearance. Two days after I began feeling better, to the point that I could actually sleep through the night and not spend nearly every waking moment in intense pain, I got laid off from my job via a phone call from the new general manager, explaining that the company could no longer afford to finance my position. It was done in such a shockingly disrespectful manner that I ended up feeling quite devastated. I mean, being laid off never feels good, but there are ways to go about it in a professional and dignified manner that ease the process.
My husband feels very positively about it. We’ve been working very hard, saving for two years now in order to be able to move to Thailand for an extended period of time. The goal is to move to Thailand for a year and just train and fight, essentially going to be a professional fighter. We’ve saved nearly enough money to hack it and these last months before we plan to leave are vital in being able to finance the entire thing. My husband’s work has been hanging in limbo pretty much since he got the position – it’s the nature of his work – so all our daily expenses were covered by my job and his income went straight and exclusively to savings. Now that I’ve been let go, we are suddenly launched into having no income to cover our daily costs before we leave. Kevin sees it as a blessing – now I can start the process of training hard with Master K and Kaensak in order to get ready for the move to Thailand, so that I can hit the ground running, in shape for the grueling training regiment of a Thai camp without having an acclimation period. I, on the other hand, feel completely embarrassed and humiliated by the way in which I was let go and am panicked about not bringing in any money during such a vital time. To be sure, no matter what “time” it was I would feel panicked – I haven’t been not working for longer than a couple of months (with the exception of trying to find a job after college and the 10 weeks we were in Thailand two years ago) since I was 14 years old. It’s an automatic panic situation for me.
But there’s just one thing to do, which is to keep going. If anything, this turn of events has actually accelerated the process of getting ready to go into this new stage of my Muay Thai experience. I actually have time to pack up the house, which is crazy. I have time to go see Master K as much as I can, which is about the best possible situation imaginable. It’s the impending glory that has bleached out the dark clouds I feel over the recent – and not so recent – events in my life.