Somehow, I just celebrated my 33rd year of life. It’s amazing how time flies isn’t it?
Anyway, I was asked what advice I would share with fellow humans from what I’ve learnt so far. The below is my best articulation of this. It might sound strange at first but stick with me and it will all make sense, maybe.
The only sport I follow or have any interest in is combat sports e.g boxing and mixed martial arts. I’ve been interested in it since I was a young troublemaker. Since then, I’ve watched and trained in the many different arts for most of my life. I remember someone once saying that combat sports is like high level chess but with dire consequences for making a wrong move.
I 100% agree with that.
An analogy I often like to reference when talking about the crazy ride of life and dealing with its many curveballs, is that life is like an ongoing fight in my eyes.
A fight, just like life, is in a constant state of flow with good, bad and strange moments.
In a fight, you have an array of physical weapons to use to deal with the opponent that stands in front of you. The jab is a common weapon used to determine the range of one fighter to another. It is snapped out repeatedly like a feeling out process so a fighter can determine the optimal range for a more damaging attack.
Once you find an optimal range, a fighter will start using more complex attacks in the hope of damaging his opponent. Head movement and level changes are also of utmost importance in any contest too. Head movement keeps your opponent guessing and level changes allow you to initiate attacks from high to low ranges.
One of the biggest keys to any fight is movement. Some of the best fighters in the world are world class movers. They take control of the ring and octagon, are able to move freely from in and out of range. This is very similar to life in which we are always moving, always forward of course but nonetheless movement is a key part of life.
Like life, in a fight we have good moments and challenging moments. We hope to be on the front foot but sometimes we find ourselves on the backfoot.
Being on the backfoot is mostly, in my view, where we find out what we are made of, what we are truly capable of. Now being on the backfoot in a fight like life can be very worrying but there’s always a way to recover. If I’ve learnt anything, it’s to expect and embrace those moments of being on the backfoot. They are some of the greatest teaching moments that life will offer.
Yet, I’ve also learnt that sometimes you do have to tap out, dust yourself off and come back to fight another day. And, other times you can transition, find an escape and recover in the moment.
We have to make continuous difficult choices on the fleeting of moments.
If you’ve stuck with me this far you’re probably thinking, where the hell is he going with this?
It’s a good question and the summarised answer kinda goes a little like this.
Life is like a fight, it flows back and forth with good and bad moments but ultimately it has an end. We all have an end too. You are going to get hit, sometimes really damn hard and you’re going to have to learn to hit too, especially if you don’t like staying on your ass.
Like a professional fighter, we all have a set of skills too. Skills which we evolve over time to allow us to better navigate the world. The way a fighter at 23 and the same fighter at 33 approach and navigate the rollercoaster of a fight will be profoundly different and down to one factor – experience.
It’s experience which allows the formation of new skills and the ability to make wiser choices. The same applies to day to day life, as you age you will (hopefully) become better equipped to deal with scenarios that shook you in younger years.
You will be on the backfoot and get knocked down many, many times but you’ll also have many successes. At the end of the day, it’s all experiences to learn from and learning is the important action here.
I look at life like a hybrid high level chess match/fight but that’s just my analogy, it quite probably will be something different for you.
So, to you I say this, embrace everything, keep learning, make adjustments and keep moving.
These are the principles of a physical contest and in life in my opinion. If anything, the last 10 years in particular of my 33 year span has taught me to expect anything and everything, to find comfort in the uncomfortable.
I’ve been knocked down so many times, I lose count now but what’s important is that I’ve recovered each time. It’s not been easy on any occasion but I’ve got off my ass and back into that ring again and again. These are the essential teaching moments I mention and I’m sure you can find events in your own life that resonate with this.
Perhaps, this is why I find such solace and connection to my fighting and life analogy. I mean what’s more uncomfortable than dodging punches and stopping someone from trying to choke you out? I can’t think of many more.
Anyway, life is a crazy ride and one where weird shit and good stuff can happen. Getting older is weird, don’t get me wrong, I still find it perplexing to accept I’m 33 but it’s true. I believe that experience makes things easier for sure.
What bothered me so much at 23 doesn’t seem like much at 33, so if you’re young and reading this, I can tell you it gets easier, you’ll figure stuff out.
Like I’ve said throughout this piece – keep moving, embrace everything, learn and move forward.
This is the best piece of advice I can share with you today, I look forward to seeing what the 40 year old version of me will say. Hopefully, he still has hair!