When I was in high school, my friend Andrew introduced me to boxing. We watched boxing videos, we trained together, and even though I had about forty pounds on him, we would spar. We worked on defense and footwork and breathing in order to beat up someone else, presumably. We grew tired of practicing without girls watching us, so we organized a fight night. Friday Night Fights, Bart’s House, 8 P.M. Spread the word.

I mowed a square into the grass in our front yard, we put up flood lights, and we had entrance music. (All the great boxers had entrance music.) We burned a CD with Andre Nickatina and Eminem and the Hook theme song by John Williams, and we introduced the boxers with a megaphone. “And now, weighing in at 130 pounds, standing at five feet, eight inches, Saaaaaaaam BONES Nardellaaaaa!” We decided ahead of time who would fight whom, and we invited our friends to come watch. What could go wrong.

I fought my friend Alex. We wrapped our hands, put on boxing gloves, checked them for nails, strapped on sparring helmets, and stepped into the lawn-ring. I was mentally preparing for how I would fight him, defense, defense, defense, breathing, breathing, footwork. The bell rang (which was someone saying, “Go!”), we touched gloves, and we were off. I bounced on my feet, jab, jab, stick to the strategy, keep your hands up watch out for his—PUNCHED IN THE FREAKING FACE! I thought: this defense thing sucks. I then implemented the strategy that I learned from every fight I’ve ever been in: out-crazy the other person. That all took about three seconds. Getting punched in the face makes you angry, it feels shameful somehow, it stuns you, it hurts.

***

Six months ago I wrote a post about quitting my job and following my heart to become a famous and wildly successful writer. (People really resonate with that idea.) After six months of following my heart into extreme boredom, I quit that, and I went into the corporate world. (People resonate with this less.)

I looked up “never settle” on google images, like you do when you’ve lost the plot, and I came across the following quotes.

“Never settle for less than you deserve.”
“Never settle. Always push. Always go for more. ‘This’ is never enough.”
“Never settle for being a character in someone else’s story when you are meant to be the author of your own.”
“Never Settle” (Tattooed across a girl’s back.)
“Never settle for anything less than extraordinary.”
“Never settle for anything less than butterflies.

The implication that someone out there is settling for something less than butterflies is almost too much. The scarier implication is that someone is using actual butterflies as a measuring stick for their life. “I was going to get a regular job, but then I remembered I’m not settling for anything less than butterflies.”

Never settle. Always push. Always go for more.

I’m afraid of settling. On marriage, on work, on dreams, on location—I’m afraid that I’ll settle and never do anything I set out to do. I’m worried that life will slip by and I’ll be an old man saying, “If only I hadn’t settled for anything less than butterflies, I’d be a butterfly by now and not a caterpillar.”

“This” is never enough.

In a weird way, this is a Christian idea. Saint Augustine, who is quoted every other minute in church circles, says, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.” Prone to wander, prone to want more. Because I’m a restless wanderer by design, never settling comes naturally. I don’t need to work at it, I don’t need to feed discontentment.

Always go for more. “Everything in moderation, especially moderation”

Settling down is okay, settling is not. Google “settling down” and you see a smiling couple on a hammock and other pleasant images—like pillows. Seems that we’re okay with settling down. Settling, though, implies that you had goals for something larger, grander, and you settled for whatever sad state your life is in now and you’re filled with regret and you basically suck.

I was afraid that working for my dad’s company would be settling. I thought that everybody would look at me like I was cashing in on privilege. I wanted to be a self-made man with the help of everybody I knew and the whole internet, but I didn’t want help from my dad. To join the family business would mean that I had given up on my plans for my life. I’ve been spending too much time looking at my life from the eyes of imagined critics.

Mike Tyson was being interviewed before one of his fights, and he was told that his opponent was a different kind of fighter, that he would have a unique strategy, and they asked how he was going to handle it. He said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Getting punched in the face makes you angry, it feels shameful, it stuns, it hurts. It changes your plans.

Bart Tocci

Bart Tocci (’11) lives in Boston where he write essays, performs at open mics, and threatens to start taco restaurants. He’s been told that he looks like the kind of guy who stands up for what’s right. And who goes to the store before the party. Read more here: barttocci.wordpress.com

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