Friday, January 20, 2017

feeling alive

Boxing is awesome. I did a session of MMA today followed by a session of boxing and I haven't felt as good in a long time. First of all, I'm enamoured by my own discipline to stick to a few things for, like, a week and I guess the positive feedback loop is kicking in because the next day is getting easier than the previous (only until it starts to get tougher soon). I once read that the learning graph is not a curve as much as a series of plateaus. You don't make any progress for a long time until you suddenly seem to be cruising. Eventually, you'll each a stage where the plateaus are longer and the cliffs smaller.

Anyway, I'm happy because of sticking to a semblance of routine, because I'm excited about the trip on 26th, because there are hints that I'm getting better at dealing with the mess within, and simply because boxing is incredible. I've never thrown a punch before and as much I always knew how liberating it could be, getting to do it, even through just air has given me a taste of the thrill. I could describe a juicy peach in the most ornate language I know but it wouldn't come close to what you'd feel when you take that bite. The description could create intense emotions and thoughts in you, which is what art does, but as real and powerful as they're, they're still different from the real thing. Not that the description is a poor approximation of the real thing. I'm saying that there are no inferior or superior anythings, just different. That came out lamer than it sounded in my head but come to think of it, isn't this the biggest curse of the world today- this cultivated habit of not clustering or ranking different things. Yes, Post-Modernism says all classical structures are no longer valid but it is impossible to function well in a world that refuses to seek any sort of knowledge about the world and the human condition. No, all information is not equal. No, all moments are not the same. This actually leads us to the area of avant-garde narrative structures which try to tell us, like BR wrote about Knight of the Cups, "that modern art is nothing but a Rorschach test recording recording our responses, our interpretations". No wonder all of us are lost in the claustrophobic confines of our daily experiences, perpetually stoned, unable to process information for more than its solitary, sensual input.

Boxing is brilliant because it strips away all the things you and the world tell you about yourself, and leaves you panting and exhausted, dares you to be the man you think you are. I've attended only about fifteen classes and I don't know enough about the game to be making these conclusive statements but I know I felt something like ecstasy for a few moments after I lay down at the end of workout. Physical exhaustion is a much needed feeling for it has the power to redeem. Like they say, the body doesn't lie. And though I was a long way from reaching my limit, even though my brain kept calculating how much energy I was allowed to disburse in each round, just the sheer pleasure of doing something concrete and real sent waves of liveliness through my soul. I was still self-conscious for periods but to be truly free, even if only for scattered moments, of the unrelenting monologue inside the head was such a relief. There was not time for thought or the space available to consciously create an action. There was instruction, there was a trial period where the action was corrected and then there was the burgeoning confidence at my ability to pull it off correctly. Oh! I haven't felt it in a long, long time. Some people call this a high, they talk about endorphins and dopamine, about how you get 'addicted' to fitness. I don't like the words. They create an image of something sinister. Boxing is about the pure joy of having a physical body, of feeling alive in every cell, about the dawning realization at your own power, about flying and ducking and punching and feeling and breathing. It is unbelievable.

I'd read about mountaineers who spoke about the exhilaration of climbing a mountain. This is something akin to it. But again, I don't want to go back there. This process of needing to find words (and thus metaphors) for each of our feelings is the biggest reason for our unhappiness. Labels are not symbols but close approximations to the real things. A great writer might be somebody who transcends language but an intense human being is someone who breaks it, who shows us the plasticity and futility of words. As much as we try not to resort to kitsch, every attempt at communication is just that. We must learn to keep creating new words, like discovering new landscapes, or learn to live without them. Everything essential is formless, all else is superfluous.

Amma, I love you. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Transcending words which can describe our feelings ... absolutely right