Zen and the Art of Violence

I’ve always liked hitting things. I enjoy that tactile sensation that comes from striking. When I was younger, the sports I played gravitated toward this concept: hit a baseball, slap a puck (and later: try to get hit with a puck), hit/tackle a ball-carrier, etc.

I used to punch a lot of walls in high school and college; a juvenile reaction to frustration and anger, but it felt good. I mean, it hurt like a bastard afterward but in that moment, that pain felt liberating. It gave me a (false) sense that I’d done something.

I had: I jacked up my knuckles.

“Trust your hands to do the right thing.”

In between typing these words, I’m icing my left (dominant) hand. I’m icing it because I’ve jacked it up again. I’ve been taking boxing classes for about two weeks now. I’d taken a few free classes in the past, but a gym opened up within walking distance from my house and I’ve been going pretty much non-stop for the past two weeks.

I may be a little overzealous about it. At least that’s what the ache in my knuckles is telling me.

My technique is sloppy, hence the sore hands, but I love boxing. I actually look forward to these workouts instead of dreading them (a common problem with my weightlifting exercises). If I don’t burn over 1,000 calories in a session it feels like a let-down. But – most importantly for me – it’s an outlet for my rage and frustration.

“This is a sport that celebrates violence,” or so the trainer says during one of the classes. It feels good to strike, to lash out, to release the frustration from a world that let’s Donald fucking Trump run for president. Every little annoyance, every glass that gets accidentally bumped off the counter, every email that some idiot misreads… jab, jab, cross.

I live for the last 15 seconds to “empty the tank,” to throw a couple left body hooks, a left cross – right hook – left cross combination, and generally flail wildly at the heavy bag until there’s nothing but acid pumping through my arms and legs. Then abs.

Fuck abs.

“Lone Wolf.”

The other habit I picked up lately is meditation. Yeah, I know. Doesn’t exactly jive with the whole ‘meathead hits stuff’ thing I got going on. I didn’t start as some yin-yang balance sort of thing. Of all the dumb reasons, I started because Starbucks gave me a free meditation app. I’d read about the benefits of meditation – most of them sounding like new-age, hippie bullshit – and decided to give it a shot based on:

  1. I wasn’t sleeping well at the time
  2. Meditation increases grey matter in the brain

Between the meditation and the constant exercise, I’m not only sleeping better, but I’m waking earlier and hitting the ‘snooze’ button a lot less. The extra time in the morning has allowed me to feel less stressed about rushing to get tasks done, and has allowed me to get back to writing and blogging.

I’m planning to expand my meditation from just before bed (what I’m told is not the ideal time for it) to either first thing in the morning while waiting on coffee or right after my workouts.

Plus, I got that whole zen/warrior thing going for me. Which is nice.

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