Below The Neck: Learning Happens Here

I ran into a former boss the other day. (If you're a faithful reader here, you know I have my fair share of former bosses. Amiable relationships all. I think.) For her television interview show, I would research topics and develop questions for the host, occasionally directing a promo or helping out with hair.

When she asked what's new, I brought up the boxing clinic, which, in some circles, can be awkward. People don't know what to make of boxing: athletes know it's just another sport; TV watchers mistake it for MMA; intellectuals are mystified. Some folks are impressed, the occasional guy a little too much so.

So I framed it as a learning experience, which is exactly the truth: I'm headed to Gleason's to learn and play.

"I can just see you," she said. "Scribbling furiously in your notebook."

I stopped. Well, sure, I planned to bring a little book to record some thoughts. But certainly not in the moment. For one, my writing hand will be gloved a majority of the time. For another, there won't exactly be a desk around, and if I have a pile of belongings anywhere, it will be comprised of a water bottle and a towel for the sweat.

This learning is to be done with the body, not so much the head. Muscle memory. And man, am I looking forward to it.

In many ways, the job I did for her perfectly suited my personality, which I can only describe as journalistic in nature. I like to tackle new topics. I can get a sense of a thing fairly quickly and come at it in a unique way. But once I've mastered a basic working knowledge, I'm ready to move on to topic #2.

Mastery, in this context, is limited, of course, but extensive enough for me to produce an article or hold my own in a discussion. Throw all these different topics and fields of study into the blender of my mind, and the mixture that results is an awe at how the world works, and the people in it.

Initially, I applied this approach to boxing, and it helped move me to a certain level. But there's no real boxing equivalent to holding a casual discussion, in which you could fake your way through when necessary; it's do or do not, as the little green man says, to varying degrees of success.

And so I look forward to coming at a thing in a new way. Learning boxing has been a unique educational experience from the start, from the first days of accepting constant critique, and understanding that the boxing gym's method is such a good one, if humbling. It's constant refining.

Every once in a while, though, you get it right. During drills last night, the coach admired my jab and announced, "Amy, I got nothin' to say."

I knew it in my bones already; no words were necessary.


  1. "I can just see you," she said. "Scribbling furiously in your notebook."

    Cracked me *all* up.

  2. This from another intellectual/boxer!

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