Remember that time when you were watching a ball game and it was clear from the start that the two teams were utterly unmatched? One team took the court or field and began racking up points until it was patently obvious that there was just no way the losing team would be able to recover. Sometimes that’s the point at which the winning coach will pull the first string out and let some of the second stringers, then even the lowest of the bench-warmers get some game time. Or the game continues with the lead players, the score escalates into the stratosphere, the losing team is humiliated, and the spectators leave with a mixture of pity, irritation, and a sense of having wasted a chunk of their day.
There isn’t much good to be said about a crushing defeat.
I recently got routed in the ring. I mean beat down, crunched up, and tossed in the can. It happened fast, it was relentless, and I allowed it to continue for four rounds when I should have stopped — and in fact, tried to stop — at three. I could have stopped at two, even. A combination of factors contributed, but none of them particularly matter any more. What I’m left with is a feeling of having failed to read the signs of the mismatch beforehand, and of having succumbed to the goading voice that said, “Hey, you can’t be a quitter, you have to power through.”
I didn’t learn anything. Anyone who says, “But you proved you’re determined,” is just as much of an ass as I was for allowing it to happen.
There was no satisfaction of a fight well fought. There was only me trying to survive, covering up as much as possible and rarely able to throw any kind of punch at all. My opponent doesn’t earn bragging rights for having crushed someone he was so much better than. He could have (and has, in the past) matched himself to my level and given us both a great sparring session, but he decided not to.
I made one small injury a great deal worse.
And I lost a little bit of my trust in the guy I sparred with.
A couple of bystanders who watched asked me afterward how I felt, and I drew an utter blank. Still drawing a blank. Somebody shook the Etch-a-Sketch and there just isn’t anything there any more; it was a painful and humiliating waste of my time.
It’s not difficult to know how to proceed from here: you just keep training (after allowing the minor-turned-bigger injury to heal) and hope to read the signs better and end it sooner next time.