Aside from the dick-pic debacle, I took on boxing to compliment my running game and yoga practice. But another reason involved a riotous 2016 where I fractured into a thousand little pieces. After a year of existing as a glistening storm of jagged and brittle fragments, I longed to put myself back together.
I am made of glass.
I remember my first sessions with Coach. Fire walks between worlds, they made my body ache for four weeks straight. I had no idea boxers trained like warriors, pushing their bodies to the brink. The level of intensity was so intimidating I felt awkward and inauthentic each time I entered the gym, like an imposter who didn’t fit in.
I might be made of glass.
But I kept showing up because transformation underlies the sweet science of boxing. There is something compelling—healing even—that prompted me to shift my mindset. I got down to business and started getting serious. I aimed to master a new craft. And everything changed the day I stopped caring about the outcomes and started enjoying the process.
Little by little, I progressed. Week by week, I tapped into a power that had been dormant. I considered the possibility I might be made of something stronger than a transparent solid. Once I understood the reality, the killer workouts I feared turned into bite-sized challenges I tried to swallow.
I am made of more than glass.
Coach and I shuffle around the basement of Church Street. The dead heat of August chokes the room. He tries to make contact. I try to avoid getting clocked. He explains the importance of a solid defence. But I stagger with each shot landed. My eyes flutter as the mitts glance off my skin. I flinch each time he charges forward.
I am terrified of getting rocked and falling apart all over again.
At the sound of the bell, Coach stops the drill. He puts his hand on my shoulder and turns me around to face the mirror. We stare at each other. His expression turns serious. I wait for the reprimand I suspect is coming.
“Listen,” his voice drops until it bottoms out and rolls like thunder. “You will get hit, possibly blasted. Hell, you might get punched so hard you break a little. But, Baby, you’ll never shatter because you’re stronger than that. Any pieces can be collected and reassembled.”
You are not made of glass, he says.
Three months have passed since that advanced schooling and, during that time, Coach has been instrumental in my progress. He has helped me become better, stronger, greater than. He holds up an invisible mirror to remind me everything is precisely where it should be. There are no pieces missing from this puzzle.
Sometimes, I believe I have taken to boxing the same way a base metal yields in the hands of an experienced alchemist. Going with the flow, I tolerate the fire and bend as much as I can. These days, I no longer care how I stack up against others. I don’t spend time sweating the small stuff. I barely pay attention to the drama unfurling at the gym.
Instead, I put all my focus into this body and revel in how boxing has changed my approach to, pretty much, everything in my life. Having rediscovered how to let go, I’m better at bearing down and accepting a challenge. (Bring on the pain!) I liken Fear to a squall that, with enough patience, can be moved through.
We are not made of glass, you know.
In many ways, I am shatterproof—as are you.