Saturday, October 30, 2021

Your Fighting Weight


Last week, I wrote about how my Dad fought to save the woods in his little Connecticut town.  Here's another photo from the day he went down to the town hall to make his case for protecting the trees in his community.  This photo makes me a little teary-eyed because my dad is no longer quite as feisty as he appears here.  

 Oh, who am I kidding?  He's actually just as feisty--now at 97--as he was when I took this picture three years ago.

The main difference I see is that he's much skinnier nowadays.  In fact, he weighs 115 pounds.  My dad gets weighed every morning.  The other day I told him that I find his weight loss a little alarming and he smiled and then proudly said, "Don't be alarmed!  I'm down to my fighting weight!"

It's true, during World War II while he was in the V-12 Naval Officer program at Yale, he was in the Yale University boxing class and he weighed 115 pounds.  He was in the light weight division, but there were no other student boxers who only weighed 115.  He had to go into the boxing ring with guys who weighed 125 and sometimes as much as 135 pounds.  

 One day, the coach put my dad into the ring with a mysterious boxer who was not a Yale student, but knew the coach.  This guy immediately punched my dad in the face and practically knocked him out.  My dad, amazingly enough, got up and then proceeded to hold his own against this powerhouse by pushing the boxer back and back and back--hiding behind his gloves, dodging, weaving and punching when he saw the rare opportunity.  Basically, his  approach was to go on the defensive, protect himself and wear the guy down.  

 And he did!  There were no knock-outs in the fight and my dad didn't land any punches, but neither did the other boxer.  And since there was no knock-out, the referee declared that my skinny 115 pound dad had won the fight on points alone.

Dad later learned that the mysterious boxer in the ring had recently won the New York Light Weight Golden Gloves!

My dad is not a big guy.  He's certainly not intimidating.  He's got that very pale Irish skin and at one time he had bright red hair.  Some people still call him by his nickname, "Red."  He does have a stubborn streak--a persistence that has served him well in his life.  Plus, he also has a magical ability to transform a negative into a positive.  So, while he now weighs 115 pounds, he sees this as a good thing.  He's down to his fighting weight!  And truth be told, at 97 with congestive heart failure, he is in the fight of his life.  He might not win, but he's going to weave and dodge and never, ever give up!

My creative friends--I want you to consider this idea of persistence.  Your assignment is to visualize an opponent.  This opponent is anything that gets in the way of your creative life.  Ask yourself how you can protect your precious time to make art.  And then deliver your bold "punches" when you can--and when you can't, protect yourself and your art by weaving and dodging and looking for opportunities when you can strike a blow for art and creativity.

This is not about the the big knock out and the dramatic count down, but rather it's about showing up in the ring, every day and delivering those small gestures that will keep you going and going.  And it'll also keep you at your fighting weight!



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