About four months ago I posted a blog called "I Am A Fighter, But What Is My Creed," which was inspired by my viewing of Rocky II. Tonight, with my son, I watched Rocky V, the only one of the films I haven't seen. At the end, as usual, I felt like Rocky, like I wanted to fight, and the question came into my head again..."Who are you fighting?"
In Rocky V, our hero retires because of his injuries. He takes on a protege, a young fighter by the name of Tommy Gunn, and he gets so into helping the young fighter that he starts to neglect his real son. Only when he sees the truth about what his relationship with his protege is doing to his family can he start putting his energy and his heart where it belongs, at home.
Rocky V, like all the other Rocky movies, is about facing the challenge that's in front of you. It's different from the others, though, because it deals directly with something the other movies only touch on: the way we can be distracted by our fear into fighting the wrong fight.
Fear, Rocky tells his protege Tommy Gunn, keeps you warm when you control it, and burns you when you don't. I've been afraid most of my life. If you've watched me over the years, you've seen me run from it, attack it, and learn to live with it.
Apollo Creed shames Rocky into fighting him. What is my Creed, the thing that's shaming me, that always makes me want to fight? It's fear.
Fear that I won't be able to take care of myself. That I won't be able to take care of my family. That someday I'll meet the greatest challenge of my life and it will defeat me, and I will spend the rest of my life broken, shamed, and as good as dead.
That's all well and good. I think about times when I was a kid and I couldn't take care of myself, when certain kids used to push me around and mess with me, and I wanted to beat the crap out of them, but I held myself back, maybe out of cowardice, or good sense, or some of both. Part of me wants to go back there now and face those kids again and beat the living crap out of them now.
That's fear talking, fear mocking me, that's my Creed, the voice saying, "You'd better beat those boys up because you'll never be able to take care of yourself if you don't." Fear is goading me to fight, to conquer, to destroy my enemies. But I'm learning my lesson.
If I do what fear says, fear is controlling me. What's the problem with that? Because then I'm fighting the wrong fight.
I can beat those boys up in my head. I can become the greatest monster jazz piano player that ever lived. I can publish a million books and make a billion dollars.
Oh, or maybe I can't. Maybe I'll just be trying to do those things as a way of fighting my fear, while the really important things start to go bad. Because when you fight fear, you aren't fighting the things that make you afraid.
That's the lesson I've lived my life to learn, the one I'm going to keep learning. It's also the lesson I've been teaching my students, sometimes without knowing it. When I die, fear will leave me, but the victories from the battles I fought, if they're the right ones, the battles that weren't with fear but with things that matter, those will remain.
Give me a call. Let's train.