After much thought and pondering over what I would say once I reached 100 says of quit, I’ve decided I’m not going to try to say something profound or blow people’s minds with my “deep” reflection on myself and quitting nicotine. Instead I will keep real simple and speak the language that I and others know very well. Quitting nicotine, or any crippling addiction for that matter, is fucking dog fight…plain and simple. If you haven’t been in a knock down drag out fight…go down to your local MMA gym and put on some gloves and go toe to toe with someone…it will change your outlook on life (let alone quitting). Seriously, do it.
I first started boxing when I was a freshman in college, I wrestled in high school so I guess you could say I was drawn to violent sports. I joined an MMA gym down the street from the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) I started to learn the arts of Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu. I quickly fell in love with Muay Thai, as much I liked rolling around on the mat with other dudes I had enough of that in high school. My trainer was a stoner, college professor and family man that would kick your freakin head in if you fucked with him.
A year into my training I had my first Thai boxing match. I have never been more scared in my life. I remember standing in my corner as my coach was giving me words of wisdom just before the bell rang. I didn’t hear the majority of what he was saying as adrenaline was surging through my body. Finally he grabbed my attention and he said, “Spencer, Keep your hands and your chin down.” Now I had heard these words before at the gym, this simple direction is given to beginners and seasoned fighters alike. But something about hearing it standing in the ring, seconds before battle, it had a new meaning, its true meaning.
It’s only fitting I am writing this on Veterans Day. My father passed away when I was 13 from a heart attack. He was 48 years old. He served in the Air Force and National Guard once he got out. I had to be the man of the house from that point on and it was not easy. But I had my task in front of me and I had to protect my mom and sister, that was my duty, that was my fight.
Once college came around and I was home less and less, this fight was essentially all but over or so I thought. I started partying a little more, started chewing and blah blah blah. I think sometimes having time on your hands to think can be the most sobering experience. At college, with no sports and no responsibilities besides class, I had PLENTY of time to think about stuff. I finally took a breath and reflected on the loss of my father…it was a rough time. I felt stuck as if I was stuck in the sand…with no fight in front of me how could I push though and persevere?
Fast forward a year later to when I forced myself to get into that ring. “Hands up, chin down,” my coach said. That day I learned what my coach really meant by this simple phrase. It doesn’t matter if it is an actual fist fight, a battle with cancer, a loss of a job or loss of a family member…or an all out war against nicotine…There is always another battle to prepare for and fight…it is never over until we are 6 feet under.
SO, If you keep your hands and your chin down you can win. You are giving yourself a chance to succeed. You are telling your opponent I AM HERE and I am ready to do battle…so fucking bring it. I get knocked down, I get back up…my hands are still up and my chin is still down. Round after round I keep stepping into the middle of that ring ready to brawl.
This is first time I have really talked about this experience, and this is not for sympathy or kudos to me. I hope I can just help others see that our lives are just a series of fights and battles. The battle against nicotine may be the toughest we have seen yet …but there will be something harder I’m sure. If we continue to show up everyday, ready for battle, we give ourselves a chance to win, a chance to beat down our opponent. We will get knocked down, life does that to us right? We get hit with a crushing left hook or a brutal leg kick…but we will continue to rise…and with what? You guessed it, with our hands up and chin down.
Now that I am done rambling, I hope that makes sense to someone out there. I cannot thank my July brothers and all of KTC for helping me battle the nic bitch. I can often hear Grady in my corner calling me a pussy, telling me to swing harder. I hear Wolfey telling me I can win (he is always so positive!). I then hear Smedsy telling me I have gone too far to turn back now…smash that bitch in the face.
Now let’s get into the corners of the rest of our KTC brothers and sisters. Let’s get into the corners of our friends and family members…and lets tell them…
Keep your hands up and your chin down.