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Something to Say “Yes” To: how I’m learning to like music again

I have a confession to make. I don’t like music.

I stopped listening to music and I stopped playing music when I decided to write about the meaning of it. The challenge of putting into words something I’ve only wordlessly known has been invigorating. But lately I have felt lethargic, frustrated and resistant about my project. This is perhaps a character trait or maybe a station in life.

I experienced something similar at my fight gym. I was doing great in beginner class. I knew I was the oldest person in the gym yet was starting at the bottom. I found the contrast amusing, motivating. After about 18 months a coach informed me I was to no longer attend beginner classes but was to move to “Advanced”. I was proud of my gold star. But in the months following, I felt a creeping realization come over me. There was never going to be anything beyond advanced class for me. I’m in my forties. I’ll never be a fighter. Competitive combat presents a risk of injury that I can not afford to take. The grind is an unavoidable plateau for me. I know that continuing to learn is its own reward. And I have had the pleasure of helping others new to the sport. Despite this, there is something in me that craves more. I remain frustrated with my martial arts practice.

I used to wonder why pro fighters don’t retire once they’ve reach the top. Why so many of them keep fighting past their prime. It’s not an isolated thing. Fighters retiring at their peak is a rare exception. Most keep showing up to take beatings. Each one worse than the previous. These fighters could have careers as trainers, some as pundits. But they want to fight. I no longer wonder why.

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