June 4, 2016

Muhammad Ali—Float Like a Butterfly Sting Like a Bee.

Photo: Rob Ellis

“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him…who stood up for his beliefs…who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.

And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.” ~ Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was a sharp, graceful, fascinating, captivating, intriguing, passionate, charismatic and magnetic man. His spirit has inspired me throughout my life and his genius and remarkable thinking has left a profound imprint on me.

Since as far back as I can remember I resonated strongly with Ali. Mostly, the reason for this is that he was a man who spoke directly from his heart and fought strongly and with conviction for whatever he believed in.

Ali could have had no boxing skills at all and I still believe that he would have been a world champion, as it was his mind that held the real power and strength.

muhammad ali

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”

Although, this iconic man was clearly one of the best, if not the best boxer the world has ever known, his determination to succeed was the only ingredient necessary. We may have witnessed many boxers gracefully and skillfully dance across the ring, but none with a look in his eye with quite the same glimmer as Ali’s had. It was a look of hope and absolute unfailing belief.

A man way before his time, Ali spoke strongly and embodied the essence of self-love, and emanated that to be able to then love and accept all others.

One other thing that struck me about Ali is his desire for freedom, even if that place only exists in the mind. Ali spoke to being able to escape from the reality and tragedy of life and take the mind to a place of limitless possibility. Ali gave hope to people—even if it was only momentarily—and this hope spread like wildfire and is one of his legacies. I know this to be true, mainly because every time I hear him speak or read his words, I feel empowered, courageous and as though I can defeat anything that comes my way and all boundaries can be pushed emotionally, mentally or physically.

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

It was Ali’s quote “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” that probably had the biggest impact on my life. I discovered this quote when I was going through some of my darkest days and when repeating it in my mind, I was instantly pulled back up.

I believe that Ali knew the effect of his words that resounded all over the world. I genuinely feel that he spoke each word for himself, but also to infect others who were struggling somewhere, someplace and needed something to cling to so that they could rise up.

The reason these words dramatically influenced and altered the way I felt was because of the balance that was contained in them. Ali knew only too well the struggles and hardships that mankind faced. He wasn’t one to focus only on the pretty, nor on the uglier side to life. Ali’s awareness and deliverance of it was one that I haven’t since witnessed.

I recognized in those words that I had to treat life gently, lightly, gracefully and flow with it, but I also needed to hit hard when life sanctioned me. I couldn’t just pause and stand back and let life happen to me, I had to happen to life. This quote wasn’t about violence or causing any harm, it was about standing up and being counted and leaving your imprint. Valuing yourself enough to say, I am here, existing and floating along with life, but goddamnit I am going to fight for what it is that means something to me.

One other thing that captivated me about Ali is how he was comfortable in his own skin, confident with whom he was, where he was at and where he was going. He had the mindset that he had the freedom to live his life exactly as he wanted to and would put up a fight equal to that on the ring to ensure that he upheld what felt true to his principles.

“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.”

Ali was a peacemaker who spoke out for equality and he did that by aiming to unite black people and give them an unwavering voice on the world’s stage. He understood that even though he hoped for the unity of all, the uniting of people would only be truly achieved once individual cultures found a level of peace, harmony, acceptance and unity with one another. Ali was a majestic man with grand dreams, but not one single dream of his was illusory.

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

It is Muhammad Ali’s heart-centered compassion that makes him shine and be remembered. In my opinion, there has never been a man more willing to forsake everything he had diligently worked for in order to commit to a cause, not for himself, but for of the whole of humanity in this generation and for many generations to come.

Ali’s beauty lives on in the hearts and minds of every person he has touched; living proof that grace, compassion, love and kindness are most certainly contagious.



Author: Alex Myles

Editor: Caitlin Oriel 

Image: Rob Ellis/Flickr // Cliff/Flickr

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