Mar 1991: Thoughts on Terry Brands' loss

I've been thinking about Terry Brands' loss to Kelber at NCAAs two weeks ago, and just wanted to write about it. That match was such a heartbreaker for me, because I knew how much he wanted it. I'm not saying Kelber didn't want it just as bad, but there's something about the Brands that makes me pull for them. I think it's their passion.

It's like that poem that Gable read to the team last year about the moth and the flame. The moth wants to get close to the flame because he is instinctively drawn to it. He knows he will be burned up but he doesn't care. He has passion. He ends up being burned by the flame, but...what is the moral? Better to live fast and die young? Better to burn out than to fade away? Better to live with passion?

Gable told us that all of us will have to face tragedy sometime in our lives. And the stronger we make ourselves now--the more adversity we face and the more character we build--the better prepared we'll be to handle anything.

I mean, jeeze, ultimately we're all going to die. We're going to be around on this planet for another, what, sixty, seventy years at best? And ten or twenty of those are going to be crapping in a bedpan, so...realistically, we've got maybe forty or fifty years left. And then what? Well, if you're like me then you believe that we all just become dust and get eaten by maggots and worms. End of story.

What's the point here? I don't know. Maybe it's this:

If, in the end, all is meaningless anyway, getting burned up in the flame isn't the worst that can happen--it's the best. Maybe a few good years of passion are just as good as forty or fifty of sitting on your ass eating oat bran and trying to prolong the inevitable.

I don't think wrestling is about being a good sport. I don't think it's about hugging your opponent when you win or lose, or acknowledging the crowd, or any of that s---. All that stuff is fine, but wrestling is about competition. It's about testing yourself, going all out, no holds barred, balls to the wall, sink or swim, all or nothing. You step on the mat and put yourself on the line, and that's who you are, that's what your life is about. It's about winning.

Everything with most people is ultimately a compromise, and maybe in the real world there's a place for that. But I don't care what anybody says, I admire Terry Brands for his passion.

What would the world be like if everyone had the intensity of Terry Brands? Jesus, I'd hate to imagine it. It wouldn't be very sane or safe, but it would be a hell of a lot more passionate. Things would mean something.

I guess that's the whole thing. I want things to have meaning. I admire people whose actions have meaning. But so many people's actions are meaningless either because they're done by rote, or because they're done without conviction.

Gable says don't wrestle to stay even. Don't wrestle to win. Wrestle to dominate. I love that. You know, sometimes, in the third period, when you're up by one or two and you've got 45 seconds left, you're pretty content to ride it out for the win. Gable would say go for more points. Terry Brands would say go for more points. So I guess, in that sense, wrestling really isn't about winning. It's about dominating. And if you happen to lose while trying to dominate...well, maybe that's better than just winning.

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