May 25, 2011
I was at the boxing gym one day jumping rope while watching these two men spar in the ring. One of the men was young, tall, and frail. The other was older, shorter, but more muscular. The younger fighter was around 20 years old and he turned out to be no real match for the more experienced boxer. By the end of the 1st round there was a slow trickle of blood streaming from his left nostril. The trainer of the young fighter sent him out for two more rounds and although he showed heart he took a lot of punishment for it.
By the end of the session blood flowed freely from both of his nostrils. He tried to sniff it up but it began to pour onto his top lip as he climbed out of the ring. Perhaps it was because he was embarrassed or perhaps he was still high off of adrenaline or maybe it was both but as he approached me he wore a deep goofy grin—the kind I’ve seen on the faces of teenagers high on ecstasy pills. Before he went to the bathroom to clean his face he said to me;
“That’s the only time I feel alive when I’m in that ring.”
Initially it sounded troubling coming from the mouth of a man so young but as I began to ponder his statement the truth was undeniable. As adults we learn to keep everything inside until the time is appropriate to release it; all of our fears, all of our pain, and all of our regrets. When we bleed, however, it is a rare instance when what moves around inside of us comes out for the world to see. If one has ever seen his or her own blood pouring from ones flesh then one knows that initially it is almost always shocking to be exposed in that manner. For everyone knows that blood is the fluid that courses through our veins but to actually see it is something else all together. In a very real sense blood represents life. Thus when we bleed it makes a moment real.
And then sometimes when we don’t bleed it makes a moment even more real.
As in when one discovers that they are going to have a child. When the normal flow of blood is interrupted by a new life it forever alters ones universe. I received this information from my girlfriend at about 11:00pm one night. It was a very surreal conversation that took place over 6 years ago. It was a wild experience for her to discover that there would be no more blood for at least 9 months; no heavy flow, no light flow, no flow at all. Something that had been a regular occurrence to her since adolescence had vanished and there was an actual creature moving, growing, and kicking inside of her. It took away her appetite sometimes and increased it at others. Ultimately it consumed every aspect of her being until alas a woman child was born; a little 6 pound thing that shared our blood and screamed with life. This little baby now represented more than the stoppage of blood, she was now truly alive.
During my existence on Earth I’ve seen blood in many forms. I’ve seen it run in rivulets, I’ve seen it collected in pools on the concrete, I’ve seen it make white shirts bright red, and I’ve seen it make blue jeans dark and wet. Every time I see blood I become hyper-sensitive to the world around me. I am forced to remember that life can be such a brutal journey. I realize that it is everything beneath the flesh that gives us depth and makes us real, for everything else is merely on the surface.