Thursday, November 16, 2006

Corners and Boxers

People who know me are usually surprised when I tell them that I was on my college boxing team. They know that I like the sport, but doing it is something else. There's a reason I'm telling you this. But first, college boxing is very much different than professional or club boxing. It's really hard to get seriously hurt as a college boxer. Per requirement, you wear these pillow-size head protectors that your mother would approve of, and the boxing gloves are 16 oz, while in the pros the gloves are 12 oz or even 8, which is nearly knuckle level. Also, there are usually three rounds instead of six, eight, ten, twelve, or fifteen. Boxing for three rounds is as close to death I had ever experienced, I think. When I see the pros bouncing around for 12 or more, I'm in utter awe.

Now to the point. One of the important (vital, actually) aspects to the sport is your corner. When you're mixing it up in the center ring, hitting and getting hit, you can't see what your corner guys see. Being close to the action can be a blinding experience, a regular Greek paradox. You need people whose hearts are at resting level (or slightly elevated) and who can see the big picture, the flaws of the opponent and their own guy. Remarkably, the fighter can hear their admonitions and insults, even above the ruckus of the spectators. The corner voices somehow pierce the veil as if your corner guys are the only ones there. You know their voices, love their voices, and need them for encouragement and direction. It's frustrating, sometimes, to hear what they have to say. You'd sometimes wish that they'd just shut up, but their importance is without question. To disregard can mean a quick, but lovely, view of the poorly hung lights above, as you lay on your back contemplating whether fishing line is really strong enough to hold up those lamps, securely placed by kids working at less than minimum wage.

There's a metaphor here (somewhere): something about our guidance from a transcending position, something "sent down" from a "place" or "position" unaffected by the temporal stuff of our lives, which can be so overwhelming that you'd think that nothing else exists or it's from this "stuff" that we can possibly find the answers to all of questions and yearnings, which, of course, is utter nonsense; but we don't know that because we are in the "mix" of a "lower world --what "dunya" literally implies, lower in space and in purity and time--blinded by our proximity, where we see flashes of "a lot" but really nothing.

Hold on, there's more. I've read many times that we commentators on such things as the political disorder of our times and the social morass of, say, certain communities or nations of the east or the moral spiraling of our immediate milieu--we have the luxury of being away from the action and, therefore, have no right to say anything since we really don't know what's going on. We're resting comfortably on our leather chairs, off from the fray, so we lose our right of commentary for no other reason than distance. While there is something negative to say about pontification and punditry, and those who speak "for a living" and gracelessly grace network and cable broadcasts offering comments and predictions that suffer from a lack of rigor and pressured by towing the party line, but this does not indict the whole cast of social criticism.

We need corner guys who have a vested interest in the success of those they're barking at and who can indeed offer direction. Just a thought.


Anonymous Irving said...

A good thought too, and an interesting perspective. We really can get to so we can't see the forest for the trees. The neocon Iraq policy is only one example, Argh, don't get me started.

Ya Haqq!

11/17/2006 4:50 PM  

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