There’s a place out in Rancho Cucamonga called the Shark Tank. It, like man MMA training centres, is a place where men and women go to learn how to fight. Some of them compete professionally. Some of them train just for the hell of it.
The only reason that I know of this place (one of dozens that exist in the state of California alone) is from a short documentary feature that I watched years ago. In it, the head trainer held a brief court with his students in the middle of one of their workouts.
Now, your average MMA competitor is a reasonably tough customer. They have to be; when you train to get smashed in the face with anything from an elbow to a shin bone, you need to have a degree of grit that goes above the usual level of machismo. They have to endure gruelling workouts, intense conditioning, and hours of striking and grappling training. Even so, they are human, and they are just as capable of complaining as anyone else it seems.
While this documentary did not show the complaint that triggered the head trainer to pull his protégés together for a talk, it did show the fallout.
“Stop whining,” he told them (though I remember him using some different, less family-friendly words). “It is a privilege for you to be able to do this stuff. It’s a gift. There are people out there that can’t walk, that have spinal injuries, or leg injuries, or brain injuries. They would kill to be able to do what you are doing right now. Quit complaining to me that you’re tired, or that you are hurting. This is a gift.”
Part of me wants to come to the defense of the fighters, reminding the coach that some of them may be struggling with legitimate injuries or 12 hour work days, but then I look at my own life and my own complaints.
I’m like those guys. I whine a lot. I complain about everything. If my internet is down for more than 15 consecutive seconds, I throw a fit. When I have to drive slower than 80km/h on the highway I rant about the inconvenience of it all. Don’t even get me started on how I act when there aren’t any turkey sausages at the grocery store.
In short, I am everything that coach hates. I’m also everything that Louis C.K. hates:
There is so much amazing stuff in my life, and I am so privileged to be in it, that I really have no excuse for complaining about how I don’t have a job yet, or that I miss seeing my friends every day, or that I can’t go out and buy whatever I want when I want it like I could this time last year. My book is unpublished, my stories unread, but at least I can still write for my own edification. 150 years ago, literacy was kept from many because of the cost of lighting; you couldn’t afford candles enough to read by in the few dark hours where you where not working.
When she finally gets here, I want my daughter to see her father as someone that is ever thankful for what he has, ever amazed to be in a world that is cooler than anything he could even imagine, ever joyful that he gets to witness this tiny flicker in the grand stretch of eternity.