Message from John Carter

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Saturday, February 16, 2013


I wrestled today.

It was not an intense, aggressive match.  Instead, it was just two guys wrestling around, trading holds, testing each others strength.  It was a fun match.

But not too long ago, I had a match with a guy who was just about my size, and who was, I think, a pretty aggressive wrestler.  By this, I mean that he was really trying to dominate me.  He wanted to pin me to the floor, and hold me there.  He wanted to taunt me with my defeat.

I like these kinds of matches, but for some reason I did not do well in this one.  The match started out well.  I took him down with a headlock and pinned him quickly.  But, once he escaped--and I let him escape--and he had me down, I sort of folded.

I've been bothered by this result ever since.

Do I not have the aggressive gene?  Am I not willing to really wrestle a guy completely and totally?

I have in the past.  I can think of quite a few matches I've wrestled where I put forth a lot of effort, and did relatively well.  I remember a set of matches I wrestled in DC a few years ago--in a guy's basement (you may be able to guess whose), in which I wrestled more than one guy.  And I did okay.

But that match the other day still lingers in my mind.  Why didn't I engage and go after that guy?  Why did I let him dominate me like that when I knew--knew--I could have escaped and turned the tables?

I have been working out like a crazy man lately.  Really, since last summer.  I lift as heavy a weight as I can manage almost every time I go to the gym (which is four times a week).  I run several times a week.  I do 400 crunches and 80 push-ups each morning after my run.  I'm in good shape.

But I still have this nagging perception of myself as this weakling. 

I understand that confidence ebbs and flows.  Some days you can feel invincible.  The next like a total failure.  Work can spur those sorts of feelings.  So can your personal life.  But wrestling should be clean and honest.  A time when you get in touch with your primal self and engage--and I mean really engage--with another man.  Muscle straining against muscle.  Sweat.  All of it should be a time of clear-headedness and focused purpose.

But for me, sometimes, it's just not there.

The point of this post is to assert that I want it to be.  I don't want to succumb to feelings of inadequacy.  I don't want to feel like the skinny kid who got picked on.  I shouldn't have to, not anymore.  But, it seems that we never really escape our psychological background.  Our earliest memories and experiences truly do mark us for life.  We can strive to over-come them--I do--but we are never truly free.

The only answer, I think, is to wrestle some more.

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