On Branch, Boxing and Boldness
I'm all about peace. I try to be anyway. Each morning, the rising sun finds me sitting in quiet prayer and meditation, a sacred spiritual ritual that launches me into the day filled with a great sense of hope and serenity. The ever tranquil Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh holds a place of honour in my office as a picture of his placid face reminds me to "smile, breathe and go slowly". And yesterday, while donating blood, I pledged to think only good thoughts to ensure that I would be sending happy, positive vibes to whoever receives my donation. I tell you all of this not to assert myself as the next Dalai Lama but to illustrate that I am indeed a peace lovin' kind of gal.
And yet tonight amidst mellow monks and sunny thoughts, there is only one fella on my mind. And his name is Conor McGregor.
Let me introduce you to Conor McGregor. Here are the meat and potatoes of his story. He is a 29 year old mixed martial arts champion from the old sod with an almost undefeated record in his sport; a sport that has led him from near poverty to being a mink coat millionaire. And here are the tea and biscuits: He's saucy, bold, determined, confident and fearless in his general approach to life, work
and clothing choices. A bit egotistical? Yes. But sure aren't we all.
As he prepares to jump into the ring tonight as an inexperienced boxer, facing an undefeated world champion in Floyd Mayweather, everyone has something to say about it. Sports broadcasters are honing in on what such a spectacle will and won't do for the sport of boxing. Bookies are focused on Conor as a long shot, potentially with only a four percent chance of winning. Sophisticated publications like The Atlantic are even following the action, directing their attention to McGregor's origin story.
Even little bloggers in little places like Branch have something to say about Conor McGregor.
There is much about this scrappy, strong fella, his story and his approach that runs parallel to rural living. When he's interviewed, his brassy overtures remind me of our own dauntless nature and how our own confidence in our abilities has allowed us to survive and thrive as would be experts continue to predict our eventual disappearance. When he jumps into a ring, I'm reminded of how we do that every single day, making decisions that allow us to stay in the smallest of communities, quite happily. When Conor swaggers into a press conference, pronouncing that he has the skills necessary to win any match, I am reminded of Nanny and Mrs. Lena being interviewed by CBC about employment opportunities in Branch; assuredly asserting their strong, activist-informed knowledge and skills.
And on a lighter note, when Conor McGregor goes face to face with Floyd Mayweather, I can't help but remember our own legendary 1990s showdown that saw Googie gallantly asking the Freshwater contingent, "Do you want to boogie with Googie?"
Tonight will tell the tale, or at least part of it for Conor. As he jumps into that ring in a couple of hours, he will be hauling out every skill to try and win this monumental encounter with one of the greats. And that's all that the man can do. Try.
And like us, this epic match will be only one chapter in the varied story of a life. While our continued and creative crusade to keep rural Newfoundland going will be peaceful, may it also be gutsy and confident. For Mark Twain said it best, for Conor and for us, "Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."