Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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Letter to the Editor - The Things That Sustain Us

I was somewhere near the airport in Louisville this past Saturday night. It was some sort of flea market I think. It wasn’t a very impressive structure. The building seemed to be past its prime, and a little neglected, but this did not concern me in the least. I wasn’t there to take measure of the facility, but rather to watch my good friend compete for the amateur lightweight title in a local mixed martial arts competition.  He was the very last fight on the card, the main event in fact, but this is nothing new to my friend. He has been working towards this for the past three years or so, and has inevitably made a name for himself in the Kentucky ranks.  

The announcer called my friend to the arena, and all at once I felt a jolt of adrenaline surge through me. I felt nervous and a little sick for a moment. I believe the reason that I had such a strong reaction was that I wanted this so badly for my friend, and comrade. I knew the battles he has been though, and how hard he trains to even have a relative chance with the upper ranks of competition. I knew all the miles he has traveled to sacrifice his body, without ever expecting a dime to profit from all of this. I think I felt this way because I knew he deserved to be exactly where he was in that space in time, but I was also relatively sure his opponent, the champion, deserved to be there as well. This all too real thought made me shiver to think of my friend’s sacrifice to be in vain. This thought was unacceptable.
Back and forth they went. My friend imposed his striking game upon the champion, and when the champion fired back, my comrade broke his will, and the champion lost all taste for the stand up. Then his opponent fought back by taking my friend down, and attempting multiple guillotine attempts, restricting my dear friend’s airway. For a time I thought all was lost, but through nothing less than utter determination, my friend regained his composure despite the pain, and began to expose the cracks in the champion’s defense. This went on for two and a half grueling rounds, and in the last few minutes of the final round, my friend found an arm exposed and exploded it into an arm bar so fast that we hardy had time to comprehend what had happened. The fight was over; my friend is now the new champion.  

I wish I could say that that this happened at some huge venue in Las Vegas. I wish that I could tell you that my friend is going on to make his small fortune, but this is not the case at this time. Some of you may not care about, or even understand his choice of competition, but I tell you now that to have been there was to witness something truly great. Even though my friend made his share of mistakes, even though he did not totally dominate his opponent, I submit to you that this night belonged solely to him, and those that care about him. We were at hand to watch a true spectacle of complete heart; we all shared a small victory along with his that eclipsed our own.

For all the problems in this world, it is these precious moments that sustain us. These moments that lift us up for a minuscule amount of time, that carry us though every instance of misfortune. You may not be able to relate to this. Maybe your scribe is too sentimental, but sometimes all we really seem to have in this life is each other, the memory of a long gone yesterday, and the hope for something great tomorrow. Speaking for myself, it is this very thing that sustains me through all the despair and bitter instances of my life. You have to live in these moments completely, as they are fleeting, but in your darkest hours of life, you can call on them once more and find a warm comfort that fills you and inspires you to drive on, and to be better than you were before.

I have found it just off the road, at a stream in the Smoky Mountains. The first and only time I ever stood in a flawless set of dress blues, I experienced it yet again. When I saw my friend in his moment of victory, I got to live it yet again. What sustains us is not joy alone, but contentment. People, I would ask of you to find this very thing at all costs.
Josh Ashby

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