When I walked into Mixed Martial Arts classes for the first time back in 2014, I was scared. I wanted to run, to hide, to turn around and run back to the car as fast as I could, which, at the time wasn’t fast because I was so out of shape.
I was at a low point in my life. I had lost my will to fight, my will to care, and my will to do anything other than show up for the bare minimum of my responsibilities. I was miserable. I had somehow talked someone into bringing me along to their MMA class, in hopes that maybe this would somehow be the key to getting me back into shape.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, maybe some glimmer of hope in me had also talked me into going. Maybe there was more going on in my subconscious than I thought.
All I know is that on a warm late summer evening, we pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall and my feet dragged across the pavement slower than usual. The door creaked swung open as I squeezed my way through the narrow entranceway behind someone else, hoping I could hide.
That night, on those dingy blue, faded wrestling mats, with borrowed boxing gloves a size too big, and an instructor teaching faster than I had a chance to catch up with, I was physically miserable. I was sweaty after five minutes, and I could barely make it through the warm-up. I wanted to hide, I was so embarrassed.
However, I felt alive. Something about the smack of those cheap borrowed gloves against the practice pads held up by a partner who encouraged me, despite having never met me before (they made me split up from my friend), something about the cramp in my side, something about pushing through the misery and somehow completing the class—not only was physically demanding, but with each smack of the glove against the pad, with each lap around the gym, with each inch I pushed myself, I felt the walls of the sorrow I had built around myself for over a year begin to crack, and I could feel anger rushing through like a flood against a dam. The levees were breaking, and I realized something that I have never forgotten, and never will forget, whether I am actively training MMA or not:
I am a fighter.
Since that day I have sorted through a lot of emotions and I am no longer an unrecognizable mess of anger, depression, sorrow, and despair. I consider myself a fairly well-adjusted, fulfilled, and responsible young woman with meaningful relationships and more passions than I know what to do with.
Yet I have carried that spirit of fight with me throughout the time since that first day of MMA. I keep it central, when I face trouble. My fight is tempered with a bit more wisdom, but it remains there.
Perhaps that’s why I choose to fight for the environment. I love nature. I cannot imagine life without it. I cannot imagine a world without livable green spaces, without a wealth of wildlife, and without the abundance that we are blessed to have living on this spinning ball of rock hurtling through space. So, I fight for it. I’ve arrived at the point where I realize it’s actually not a choice, it’s who I am. Why deny who I am, and create misery for myself? I’ve been there and done that!
Without a reason to fight, (or, if the word fight is too strong for you, then use the term advocate, or say, “without a recognition of our purpose” we become complacent, we become lost, we become shadows of who we once were.
Humanity was not meant to sit on its thumbs and accept injustice. Look at our history books—the civil rights movement. The civil war. World War II. World War I. The revolutionary war. The feminist movement. The gay rights movement. Now, the environmental movement and many, many more. We must fight, and we must never accept injustice.
Though beads of sweat dot our brow, thought we breathe hard in fear and anxiety—for the opposition is strong and refuses to play fair—though our backs strain with the heavy burden of oppression—we must soldier on for what we know in our souls to be true, right, and just.
For me, that is the preservation and conservation of our home, the beautiful planet earth.
This earth day, I stand in solidarity for those who march for science—though I cannot be there due to the death of a family friend, I am there in spirit. We are the foot soldiers of mother earth, and we will not let her lie in squalor while the demons of industry and capitalism and right wing pundits ignore her screams for help. Will you fight however you can, wherever you are, in whatever way is available to you?
Do not let your fire be silenced. I believe that you are a fighter, too.