February 10, 2014

Rocky is Not a Sports Story (But Wow, What a Love Story).

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He stood, thinking about the greatest love of his life, and uttered the words as a great man in the sunset of his life.

“I remember when she was standing there all nervous and shy with that small smile… And all I wanted her to do was trust me… And she did… She did…”

~ Rocky in Rocky Balboa

When I was young I saw Rocky, in all it’s various forms and sequels, as one of the greatest sports stories ever. The training montages, the brutal scenes of combat, the will to win all compiled into a short story on the extraordinary capacity of some of us to rise above our own conditions toward something great.

As I’ve grown, my perspectives on life have changed. My likes and dislikes are different, as is the way I approach my life even if I’ve held on to some of my boyish charm that keeps me laughing and stubborn in equal parts.

So that brings me to one of my favorite movie series.

I have a tradition; when I start a training period, I pop in a Rocky movie. I even have some favorite clips I go to when I need my focus realigned with my intentions. I used to have a bunch of Rocky songs on a cassette that I used during my workouts, whether if I was boxing, lifting, whatever. (Yes, a cassette, and I can still hear the music blaring in mind as I beat myself into a sculptured work of art. I make myself laugh out loud just in the thought.)

I now see Rocky not as a sports movie, or a boxing movie, but rather a love story. A great love story. I see the main characters as representatives of all of us. Sometimes we are Rocky, or Adrian, or Mickey or Paulie. Sometimes we are the hero, or the person who inspires the hero, or the clumsy anti-hero who seems to have a great upside. Sometimes we are all of them at once as we play our role in the great movie of our lives.

There were the times in my own movie when I felt I was a lost, confused soul just looking for my place in the world. I’ve doubted myself, my abilities and my value to not only others, but also myself. Yet, I’ve been blessed with an innate fire within me to keep pressing on, and though I’ve been battered, bloodied and beaten, I’m here and I’m winning.

I now see Rocky and Adrian, two lost self-doubters who believe they have nothing to offer the world, as the epitome of a great love story. They find each other and through the rumbles and shakes of their own self-doubt and worldly distrust, become unbreakable in body and spirit. In his beating, our hero looks for his lover, in his defeat he finds victory in her arms, and in the end realizes that he has never been able to lose with her by his side.

We can all be Adrians to our Rockys, regardless of gender or position in life. It’s a great message in this awesome love story; we cannot lose, we cannot be beaten, when love is our prize.

I particularly love the relationship between Rocky and Mickey. Maybe I’m sensitive to it because I’ve never really had a father figure in my life, but I love the relationship Mickey and Rocky have. It’s a love story itself—a love story where a fatherless man finds a father figure and a father figure without a family finds a son. Mickey is in Rocky’s corner, understanding him along the way, teaching him not only how to win, but to win correctly. He guides him, knowing full well that the lessons of their lives together had to outlive him, and doing all he could to ensure they would.

“If you ever get hurt and you feel that you’re goin’ down this little angel is gonna whisper in your ear. It’s gonna say, ‘Get up you son of a bitch ’cause Mickey loves you’.”

~ Mickey in Rocky V

For me, Mickey is that little voice in me that drives me on when I have nothing left. It’s what wipes the blood and sweat from my flesh when I’ve fallen, is’t what I feel when fear invades, what I hear when old voices creep in. I can feel the Mickey in me rise up, get mean, and scream in my heart, “Get up, you son of a bitch, ’cause I love you.”

I am a Mickey of sorts myself to those in my life. I am my children’s Mickey, their Dad, who loves them unconditionally. They will never have to look far for me when they need me and when I’m gone, I will have prepared them for life. They will need to do their work in the ring, but I will have done all I can to prepare them for it.

Yes, even if that means chasing chickens.

To me, life is much like a boxing match (or, to be more “hip”, like a fight in the octagon). Most of the time we are training, learning, working, building ourselves up and breaking ourselves down. Then come the moments where it all comes into play, when we lace up the gloves and face our fears as we walk toward the ring.

For those who have never done it, let me assure you there is a great fear there. Yet, we have our Mickey’s to spur us on, whether it be an internal voice, a friend, a lover, or a parent. We make it, we face it and we learn from the experience.

Within what I find as a plethora of morals we can take from the Rocky series, I want to end with one.

In my life experience I certainly understand that despite my desire to see the rainbows in the world around me, sometimes they simply don’t exist. There are dark spaces in the world around us.

So, in parting, I’d like to share a quote I’ve kept in my back pocket many times over the last few years.

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you’re hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

~ Rocky in Rocky Balboa.

So, win. Get it done. Keep moving forward, and rarely look back. Love much, laugh often and, for Pete’s sake, find your balance and never, ever let women weaken your legs.

(Just a little humor there, I can’t find a better way to weaken my legs.)

I love this clip:


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

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