Updated: Feb 27
Prove it only to yourself.
My son and I were watching Rocky the other night. He’s an adult now and understands deeper concepts than when he was a kid. We’ve been taking some time to watch a bunch of the classic great movies together. Rocky, The Godfather, etc. It provides some exceptional bonding time.
There’s a part in the Rocky movie that always gets to me. It nearly brings me to tears every time.
Rocky Balboa, a poor, dumb, neighborhood guy, a club fighter who collects money for a local, small-time loan shark, has, by a fluke of circumstances, been given the chance of a lifetime. Apollo Creed, the Heavyweight Champion of the World, quite possibly one of most gifted and talented fighters of his generation, who has beaten every man who has challenged him in under two rounds, has asked Rocky to fight for the Championship.
No one expects Rocky to win. No one expects Rocky to last two rounds.
Rocky spends the night before the fight walking around the neighborhood. He goes to the stadium to see the empty ring. During this time, he visits the depths of his soul. He arrives back home to his tiny apartment where his girlfriend, Adrian, is asleep.
He lies down in bed, still wearing his street clothes, and stares into space.
“I can’t do it. I can’t beat him. I been out there, walking around, thinking. Who am I kidding? I ain’t even in the guy’s league.”
Adrian says, “What are we going to do?”
She says, not you, but us. What are WE going to do. This involves her too.
Rocky replies, “I don’t know.”
“You worked so hard.” Adrian says.
“Yeah, it don’t matter, ‘cause I was nobody before. I was nobody. But that don’t matter either, you know? ‘Cause I was thinking. It really don’t matter if I lose this fight. It really don’t matter if this guy opens my head, either. ‘cause all I wanna do it go the distance.”
“Nobody’s ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, and that bell rings, and I’m still standing, I’m gonna know for the first time in my life, you see, that I weren’t just another guy from the neighborhood.”
To Rocky, the fight only matters to him. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. Rocky fights because he is a fighter. That’s what he does. Up to now, he has only fought bums in tiny, sweaty clubs. Fighting against guys who bite, and fight dirty. Rocky has been given the chance to prove who he really is. He has an opportunity to prove to himself that all his hard work just might pay off.
Rocky is scared. He knows that winning is not even an option. Beating Creed can’t happen. But he only wants to prove to himself that he can stand toe to toe with the champ. That he can not only survive, but he can do what other fighters haven’t yet done. He can find out who he is and what he can do.
He can last against the greatest there is. He is challenging himself. Testing himself.
Becoming a better version of himself. For himself. In the end he can’t step back, he can’t sit down. Despite his fear, he must go forward.
Compare this to Terry in “On the Waterfront.” Terry was a great fighter, but his brother Charley kept setting up bets on his losses. Terry could’ve been one of the greats, but was paid to lose to bums. In one of the most quoted lines in cinema, Terry tells Charley,
“I could’ve been a contender. I could have been somebody, instead of a bum.”
Terry never got the chance to test himself. He never got to see what he could do. He never really proved to himself who he could be.
So many films and stories about people who push themselves to the limit. They suffer self-induced torture for the hope of greatness.
The Karate Kid, Flashdance, Fame, Vision Quest, American Anthem, Kickboxer. All these movies show the depth of human endeavor against impossible odds. People pushing themselves to the brink of destruction to achieve the inner peace of accomplishment. Through this, they find themselves. They discover who they are.
We don’t all get a chance to fight the greatest fighter of a generation. Or train for competitions that define us for a lifetime. But we can push ourselves each day to become better than who we were yesterday.
I competed in powerlifting contests for several years. The training was grueling. I trained with two animals with no respect for other humans. Sadistic brutes. But they pushed me and taught me to push myself.
I got four state records in powerlifting. My lifts were printed in Powerlifting USA, twice. I competed in karate tournaments. Got my ass kicked a few times. Kicked some ass a few other times.
All in all, I pushed myself every day. I improved little by little.
Are you pushing yourself?
You may not be going up against the champ. But you’re in competition. You’re competing against yourself. Each day you can do a little more. And if you aren’t doing anything, you can begin today.
Start doing little things today. And tomorrow. Develop a habit of repetition. Keep doing what you can’t until you can. Then keep doing it until you are really good at it.
An old saying in karate goes, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
Get that good. Push yourself. Prove to yourself you can go the distance.
Your life is a story. Make it one that someone wants to hear.
Joe “Weeg” Weigant is an empowerment coach who specializes in energy work (Reiki, Acupressure, Tuning Forks, Massage, Reflexology, Sound/Vibration Therapy) to release trauma, reset the autonomic nervous system, and balance the energy systems of the body to achieve lasting peace. He sells herbal products by Nature’s Sunshine and Pure Herbs Ltd. Weeg teaches Karate and Tai Chi, certification in Reiki, as well as seminars and workshops in metaphysical and spiritual matters. Weeg is available for sessions at Tri State Holistic Wellness by appointment only.
Contact by text 812.568.5356, or Facebook Messenger to set an appointment.