I’ve joined a boxing club.
BOXING?!?!? you might shriek.
Ashley, you normally write about art, music, graphic design… those sorts of things. What does boxing have to do with that?
Actually, a helluvalot.
I write about the arts because the arts have always been my source of life. I’ve been saved from many dark places by hearing the right song at the right time, or by watching a film that takes me someplace new, or by reading a book that opens my mind.
I also write about the arts because I am an artist.
As much as my hyperactive, responsibility-obsessed mind has tried to deny it, I am an artist. I need to create.
But I’ve also learned that I need to move. I’ve learned that too much stagnant living leads to an uninspired soul, no matter how much I read, watch, and listen.
It’s as though by moving my body, stretching and sweating, I am breaking up the psychic buildup that creeps into my soul. Like plaque attacking unclean teeth, my negative, self-abusive, destructive mind grows and spreads when I sit still. I can’t simply brush it away, though. I need to take myself to a place of no-mind (meditation can be brilliant for this, but it affects me quite differently than exercise).
See, I don’t know if everyone is afflicted with a non-stop barrage of panicked thoughts, but as much as I can handle them, some times they just need to have the Emergency get-the-fuck-out-of-the-burning-building Switch pulled on ’em. There’s no way to do that quite like hitting a heavy bag as hard as possible.
Alright, it’s true, I love yoga, swimming, and cycling.
But my interest in boxing hasn’t gone away since I learned some basics as a staff member at The Arts Factory Lodge in Australia around 2000/2001. There is a side of my pacifist nature that was giddy with discovering an explosive way to express myself.
Wanting to box is not the same as wanting to fight (In fact, at my club, we can’t spar until we’ve trained for 3 months). I’m still and always will be a pacifist. But like yoga, boxing says, “Here. This is your body. You live in it everyday. You think you know your body. Now it’s time to FEEL yourself in your body.”
We live in an intellectual world, so we think think think think think think think our way through every single day, and sometimes throughout the night, tossing and turning. We exist in this ignored vessel, expecting it to continue to function satisfactorily while we think about what’s coming next or what just happened. Yet learning to be in our bodies is quite possibly the nicest thing we can do for our minds.
I do not expect us to stop thinking altogether, but stopping once and awhile is dreamy. It not only recharges our bodies, but our minds, too.
Which means when I put pencil to paper, I can approach it with a fresh hand, heart, mind, AND soul.
So now I box.