What We Do With What's Inside

Former middleweight champion Jake LaMotta, in his autobiography Raging Bull, says he was successful in the ring because he didn't care if he was killed.
For eleven years he mistakenly believed he had murdered a man in a robbery, and unconfessed, yet guilty, wanting to be punished, LaMotta threw himself into boxing as much to be hurt as to hurt.
--Joyce Carol Oates, On Boxing
When I first transcribed this quote, I typed "waiting" instead of "wanting to be punished." Oh, I thought, his impending criminal conviction depressed him; knowing what was coming, he lost the will to live. But no: boxing was the conviction, each punch the gavel coming down, and death, if it came, would be the cell he'd never leave.

Yesterday, my son told a lie. When called on it, he was immediately repentant, and Greg and I told him we forgave him, people make mistakes, that it was over and done. But all the love we lavished could not erase what clearly tormented him. He buried himself in the couch. Only with repeated drawings out and affirmations of love, a couple hour process, would he stand straight again.

Oates writes, "When LaMotta eventually learned that his victim had not died, however, his zest for boxing waned, and his career began its abrupt decline."


  1. How great is it to have a kid who feels bad for lying--

  2. That's a very interesting story. I guess we all have difficulty accepting grace sometimes.


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