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So, I started taking boxing lessons.
I had several reasons for this... primary among them being the fact that if I flick one of my upper arms, it jiggles. For, like, 20 seconds. As though my upper arm were filled with Lime Jello. It's unattractive.
Another reason is that it's a great workout, and I could seriously use a great workout since a) I ain't no spring chicken and b) I've started to be mildly concerned about the longevity of my ticker, given my family's history of heart disease and obesity. I have a membership with LA Boxing, which is a gym that centers around boxing lessons, but the lessons themselves include a serious workout involving running, jumping, pushups, situps, wheezing and coughing up blood in addition to pummeling an 125 pound black bag.
Which, of course, is the real reason everyone is there. We all want to beat the ever-loving s**t out of that bag. I am convinced that everyone who consistently comes back does so because it's their way of achieving anger management.
I don't like admitting that this is my numero uno reason for attending these classes, but since I've been pretty sparse in my posts so there's probably only two people regularly checking this blog now, I feel that I can open up to you two and say "psst... hey, you. Don't tell anybody, but I'm an ANGRY person, and I really need to hit that bag, because I can't hit anyone else, the only place that anger is going is inside me, and I'm afraid I'm going to have a heart attack at age 50."
I can't exactly account for the source of the anger, because I don't think it has just one source. Generally speaking, though, I think I have very high expectations for myself, and I maintain these high expectations because they keep me pushing and trying to do well even when I'm bored and frustrated and hurt and tired and confused. But they also mean I'm disappointed a lot, particularly with myself. I know I'm not alone... there are lots of people who deal with anger, and I think it comes from the same place that most unhappiness comes from: frustrated expectations. Not to get all Buddhist on folks, but I don't know a lot of folks who have truly low -to-moderate expectations AND an anger problem. The angry folks I know are also either very ambitious or are very idealistic. I count myself among the latter.
Lately, my anger has been around the topic of my job (which does not satisfy my idealism), current events (i.e. the madness in Iran), and men. I can't do a great deal about any of these things, and I accept that in all of those cases there are circumstances that balance out the source of my anger/ helpless outrage... but believe me, the boxing HELPS.
I'm not good at it, but I'm also not bad. The bag moves when I hit it. Often, it moves so much that I have to grab it because I can't see to hit it through the sweat and tiredness unless it's fairly still. My teacher this week told me not to hit so hard, which I thought was rather cool. I think her point was that I need to focus on technique so I get good at it, not just beat the hell out of the bag until I'm ready to fall over.
There are people in the class --male and female-- who are very, very good at it. They have the boxing techniques down and they are very comfortable with exercises that leave me panting and groaning and saying Very Bad Words under my breath. I admire them, but only because I know this means they've done this for a while and gained some level of mastery over their unwieldy bodies, and possibly over their anger. I want to be able to do that. I want to be able to come into that class, go through the exercises well without feeling I'm going to die, and be able to hit well, powerfully and with good form.
Even now, though, I'm getting the payoff. When I leave, I'm not angry at all. Just tired, and grateful that I made it through, and so relieved. Relieved in my body, relieved from the anger. I haven't solved or changed anything, but I no longer feel the weight of what I can't do on my shoulders. I'm just happy to be alive, and I feel free of all my worries, even if just for a little while.