I’ve never seen the movie Fight Club but I’m pretty sure I participated in one once.
Growing up, my two older brothers Matt and Daniel (13 and 14 years old at the time) had an arch nemesis down the road named Tico. I have no idea why they hated each other, but they did and one day they decided to settle the rivalry with a boxing match. The guys set a date and time to fight and publicized it to all the neighborhood kids.
Except they weren’t going to be the ones fighting like normal kids do, that’d be too messy. Instead they convinced their younger brothers to fight for them.
Designated hitters, if you will.
Being young and impressionable and generally stupid I accepted my brothers’ challenge to fight Evan. I didn’t have any ideawhy I should fight him, but I don’t know why I did most things they convinced me to do.
When I was five years old, I didn’t question the “fact” that they both had superpowers that let them fly like birds, but never did understand why my eyes had to be closed when they did. I didn’t think twice when they asked me to lay down at the end of a skate ramp while their posse of friends jumped over me with bikes and skateboards on Saturday afternoons. Never did they consider the dangers of convincing me to drive my tricycle off that same ramp not too long afterwards.
Heck, as a middle schooler they convinced me to let them throw a high school rager at the house while my parents were on a cruise in Alaska. (Another story for another time.) (We’re still very sorry, Mom.)
The Front Yard Fight Club was merely a continuation of a childhood full of doing things just because Matt and Daniel told me to. It’s just what little brothers do I suppose.
Tico and his younger brother Evan marched towards our house on Fight Day.
I stepped outside and sized up my opponent for the first time. It seemed the entire neighborhood descended on our house. Somehow, before the age of text messaging, everyone knew what was going down on the Nations’ front yard.
The neighborhood kids encircled us as we squared up to throwdown. The fact that my parents were a few feet away inside the house, relaxing on an otherwise sleepy Sunday afternoon, meant nothing. Fists flew and kids screamed. Evan scratched me all over and I was scratching and hitting him back. My brothers cheered me on like Roman spectators at the Coliseum. The whole scene was utterly barbaric.
I didn’t know much about fighting but knew I couldn’t lose.
When Evan started bleeding they called the fight and declared me Featherweight Champion of of the Wellington Chase Subdivision. My brothers were so proud, everyone was throwing high fives and patting me on the back. I was a neighborhood hero! I’ll never forget how much I felt like a champion of men and boys alike.
Today, I remember the Front Yard Fight Club so vividly because I was so proud of my victory. Proud that I had done something I really believed was meaningful (though it probably wasn’t) and made my brothers proud.
Honestly, fighting just feels awesome sometimes.
Not that I’m anticipating a rematch anytime soon, but I do think there’s something about fighting that’s so core to who we are and it’s not an accident. It just looks different when you grow up.
Many people seem to spend their lives on the sidelines, choosing sides and placing bets on all the competitors brave enough to step in the ring. Instead, I want to jump in and throw a few punches. But today I feel like fighting for other things.
Fighting to give a voice to people and causes that need it.
Fighting to stand for honesty and hope and love.
Fighting to live on purpose.
Fighting to become more like Jesus.
All of which sound really nice on a blog post but are significantly harder when the bell rings and there’s a real opponent in front of you. Even worse when you take your first right hook to the chin. But it’s exactly that kind of risk I’m choosing to accept because living an extraordinary life doesn’t happen from the sidelines.
It happens in the ring.