In the days when I used t climb into the ring, I always thought that for every fight, I’d be able to last the regulation five three-minute rounds – that I’d still be vertically erect by the time they rang the final bell. More often than not (usually by the middle of the second round) I’d be praying that one of my seconds would throw in the towel and end my misery. They never did, the idiots! So, I’d soldier on – occasionally checking to see if I were already dead – until my opponent had had enough of me stopping his blows with my face and other parts of my body. That ought to teach him!
It was the same when I used to race mountain bikes. I would enter them convinced that I’d at least finish the race – that I wouldn’t be so crap a rider that I’d actually end-up dead last. Usually, after about 10 kilometres or so – dead tired after trying to keep up with the eighty-year old granny in front of me – I’d be puking my breakfast all over the flora and fauna. At this point I’d usually be looking for a marshal to snip-off my race number and declare me as a DNF (did not finish). But as the paramedics carted me off to a waiting ambulance at the finish line, I’d realise that I had somehow made it to the end; being dead last didn’t seem that important anymore. At least I wasn’t dead!
I have since accepted that knowledge and skill will mean very little when we are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. No matter how well we’ve been trained to cook-up the perfect action plan, or how hard we worry about the big, bad outcome, it’s going to make little difference in the overall scheme of things.
The one quality that will see us though is courage.
But my mental picture of courage has been tempered by years of getting kicked in the teeth. It is no longer visions of a handsome hero who knows no fear, the all-powerful maverick who annihilates his enemies with deft moves as he rescues scores of American POWs from Asian prison camps. This is the romanticised image of courage created by Hollywood to sell movies. It is misleading and is as unlikely as someone transplanting the Big Ben dead smack in the middle of Taman Rinting in Pasir Gudang.
Instead, today my version of courage is the comical little guy who has nothing left in him, the one who pissing in his pants with fear, but who is still going on despite getting whacked left, right and centre at every turn.
Now that everything is crumbling down all around me, the future has got me pissing in my pants. Will I still be able go on as I get whacked left, right and centre at every turn? Frankly, I don’t know.
I hope I’m not already too old for this kind of thing (i.e., dealing with the personal damage that a recession brings).