starving for substance


Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on August 26, 2010

There will be no continuation for the last post, there’s just nothing left to be said.

I’ve been on a reading tear lately and just finished The Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan. Long time fans and readers will remember my enthusiastic review of his previous book, The Fighter’s Heart. He’s a tad over-philosophical but he has some really interesting insights as to why human beings will train for hours on end in an attempt to dismantle each other in unarmed combat.

In the end as he ruminates over the interviews he’s compiled for his book and thinks about that eternal question of why, interesting insights are revealed.

There are two quotes that stuck out to me:

“Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the great Russian novelist, understood the value of such sentiment. He wrote, in Notes from the Underground, “What is to be done with the millions of facts that bear witness that men, consciously, that is fully understanding their real interests, have left them in the background and have rushed headlong on another path, to meet peril and danger, compelled to this course by nobody and by nothing, but, as it were, simply disliking the beaten track, and have obstinately, willfully, struck out another difficult, absurd way, seeking it almost in the darkness…And what if it happens that a man’s advantage, sometimes, not only may, but even must, consist in his desiring in certain cases what is harmful to himself?”

We choose things that are against our own best interest because the freedom to make that choice is more important than those interests.”


When I spoke to Carlo Rotella about this issue over the phone, he said, “One of the things that always impressed me about the fight world, people want to feel like things they do in their life are meaningful and important. Fateful.” That was a word Carlo would come back to often, fateful. People wanted to feel like the things they did mattered. He had written: The primacy of hurt supercharges even the smallest detail.

“It seems like the fight world is well set up to turn everything you do into something fateful and important. Every sit-up, staring at yourself in the mirror, every little detail of your day, whether you slept well, ate well, blinked, or not, standing face to face with that guy, is the most fateful, and important details matter in the epic that is your life. There is a whyness to that.”

In the end, we want to believe that our lives matter. When that sense of significance in the things we do start to fade away, we question if what we are doing is worth it. Difficulties will often bring out that oft quoted expression “Is this even worth it?” A question voiced again and again by countless middle school students forced to learn trigonometry “When will we ever need to use this?” translated: “Is this worth it?”

We long for significance, either to be significant or be of significance to someone else. And that’s the fall of man, in essence. Finding significance in the wrong things, seeing the wrong things as significant. Mankind was truly created for One thing.

Finally, it was a Christian boxer that clarified a lot of things for me.

“Andre Ward told me concerning his faith, “My faith and understanding is that God placed me here for a reason. He has work for me to do. That encourages me and keeps me going. I’ve said this before, and so does Virg [his trainer], as a professional, that without God I wouldn’t be in this business. I just wouldn’t.” Andre paused. “God has me here for a reason, he’s in control of everything and his will will come to pass. My job is to work hard, give him all I have in preparation, and leave it to him. It’s everything, the centerpiece, the cornerstone of my career.”

So succinctly said. Now comes the eternal question of what exactly do I work hard at?

One Response

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  1. Experience « starving for substance said, on December 13, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    […] is Necessary This echoes a post I had earlier about fighters and why they do it, but pain adds a feeling of significance to life. If something hurts, we want to justify it so as […]

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