A Caged Lion

“Why would you want to do that?!  That’s crazy!!  Those guys are violent!!”

That’s one type of response I get from people when I begin to talk about my desire to engage in Mixed Martial Arts.  I get it.  It scares certain people.  The thought of it scares me as well.  People have died in combat sports:  Boxing, Judo, MMA, Kickboxing, etc.  I understand the risks and I fully acknowledge them (though these things are a pretty rare occurrence… and oh by the way, I would consider football, rugby, and hockey combat sports as well and I’m betting people have died doing those things too).

For a long time I let the reaction of one woman stop me from fighting.  That was over 6 years ago.  Since then I have participated in Judo.  That lasted about a year and a half.  Schedule and Money constraints took it off the table.  I had a blast.  It was a good aggressive outlet for me and I think that’s something I’ve been missing.  A good aggressive outlet.

I learned recently that house cats can sometimes become anxious and irritable when restricted to the house all day.  What can be missing for them is the opportunity to get outside and hunt.  Apparently, cats have a natural built in desire to hunt down prey.  It makes since if you look at wild cats like lions, tigers, cougars etc.  Pining down that instinct to hunt leads to dysfunction in the animal.  When I learned about this, a light bulb turned on for me.  In efforts to domesticate myself and be more ‘normal’ I have suppressed a desire that is very hard wired into me.  It’s worth pointing out that I don’t think everyone should pick up martial arts.  For me, I dealt with things in my childhood that left me with tons of pinned up aggression.  The Army was the first time I got to expel that energy in a productive way.  I’ll say this many times over but, paradoxically, I left the military/war a much calmer man than when I went in.

When leaving the military the goal was to fight but several factors stopped me.  The main factor was people’s response to it.  In particular, what I thought a woman might think of it.  ‘Oh, he’s violent!’  ‘Oh, he’s crazy!’  ‘Oh, he’s too old for that stuff!’  Most of the time I’m playing these tapes in my own head.  I’m creating a story that just isn’t true.  With that I’m ignoring my own instincts to hunt.  That has caused some disorientation.  That has caused a since of restlessness.  That has caused frustration with little things in life.  That has caused depression.  There’s an imbalance within myself.  Finally, a few weeks back, I asked myself, “What do you really want to do that you are not doing?”  Mixed Martial Arts was the answer.  I said to myself, “What’s stopping you?”

  • OPO (Other People’s Opinions) ? – Look, most of the hate we think is coming at us is really coming from inside.  Yes there will be people who think I’m crazy.  That’s actually reasonable.  I mean… It is cage fighting.  However, the vast majority of people have been supportive AND… Who gives a damn what other people think?!  As long as I’m willing to look at both the upside and downside with eyes wide open and accept both, then I say, let’s get it!

This really got me thinking about how our real desire to connect with others can cause us to deny ourselves in ways that actually make us fake.  It seems safer to pretend and to fit in until you find yourself stir crazy, anxious, and falling apart at the seams.  What’s worse is when we fake it for so long we get lost in the lie that we tell ourselves and this results in the ‘Who am I?’ question.  I’m going to go with my instincts.  I’m going to allow myself the thing that I have denied myself in efforts to fit in. 

What is it that you really want that you haven’t allowed yourself to have?  Why have you denied it?  Is that a valid reason?

This week on Episode 44 of The AIE Podcast you’ll here audio from my first speech outside of Tacoma!  It’s about Keeping Promises to self again, but, I think this message came off as potentially my best stuff ever.  I’m speaking to a group of teenagers and mentors (Over 200 people) at Seattle University for Washington Business Week.  The same organization from a couple weeks ago but a new group of kids.  We talked about instincts and how one learns to trust their instincts.  Listen.  It was fire!

-Travis

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