When the occasion was concluded, after a brief crowd interaction, I was left pondering statements made by the first audience member able to speak his peace. This fellow, a man beyond middle age, assembled a fighting posture while reminiscing about pride from ancient times, in neighborhoods now rendered ghostly figments of their inhabitant’s imagination. The pressure fell on my chest as he suggested the contemporary generation had no such pride, aligning his notions with the faded glory of boxing.
I knew he was right, in many ways. My peers and I are different. We have lost something. It’s a sense of fury, I suppose, a desperate lunge for acceptance and community. These things used to be forged in steel. Now I think they are questioned, rebelled against. This can be a negative. We are too splintered within our neighborhoods. Battles are waged for superficial reasons. And the modern definition of normal can produce pretty bizarre people. What is acceptable does not constitute greatness. Success, or at least the perception of it, is cheaper than ever. The eighties are being sold back to us at half-price, with worse music. I understand this.
I also understand mythology is fading, sleeping in the ruins of a weird old America, hidden like Atlantis under highways leading to shopping malls. Sure. I never sensed any great depth to growing up and hanging out in Whitestone. I felt the borders of my reality narrowing. Maybe it was our fault. Maybe things go wrong when people don’t try hard enough. When they don’t train like maniacs.
The main event can be against apathy, or societal standards gone haywire, even bullying, though that requires the truly special to fight against. But did the previous generation, that this man glorified, not lose a few fights of their own? Myth can be deadly, especially when used to glorify or deny violence. Neighborhood pride is fine, until it becomes an excuse for tribal warfare.
No, we all have our fights. And we all want our fighters to be remembered as the best. I still dream. We really do. I want to take it to the next level, the same one Gardner found while writing about men fighting for their lives. Twitter, Facebook, internet connectivity and networking… these could have light and dark sides.
I thought of standing up and defending my generation. Someone in the back began talking about how much Hamill meant to his native country, due to a friendship with a boxer. He was impassioned, bent on making his point. I’d understand when he was through. It was his match, now.
And it’s a big ring.