I stand alone and remember all that has happened here,
The creation of bonds, the passage to manhood,
The increase in strength both mental and physical,
The sewing of brotherhood, and the molding of devotion.
We are not bound by the blood of our parents but by the blood, sweat and tears of each other,
We know not what it means to quit unless it means to quit sleeping to go out on the mat,
We know not what it means to give up unless it means to give up on past troubles and empty our minds,
We know not what it means to leave a brother on the battle field unless he ask us to leave him there and bask in the glory of his victory or better himself in defeat.
This battlefield is not one of a war fought between nations but a war fought between friends to strengthen each other,
This battlefield is not one where artillery fires with each boom meaning another lost comrade, but one where every thud of my brothers hitting the mat means he has become stronger,
And though he may not notice it now, he has grown from a small boy to a devout man.
I walk on the mat with the sound of the room filling the memories of my ears, the thuds of my friends, my own heavy breaths and those of my brothers, the withheld yelps that escape the lips of those of us who have had the snot kick out of them and then go on to stand back up with a smile and ask to repeat.
I run my hand along the slick rubber mat and feel the racing heartbeats of every man that has stepped on this circular battlefield, I take in the pain that has turned to glory and the failures that do the same, because we do not see the negatives, only room to improve and a path to do so.
The gym is so quite I could hear the drop of a pin, and yet the four walls that surround me, as they have for many others in my same position, a shout with the silent sounds of pride, and beacon me to follow suit, and so I adorn my gladiatorial weapon of choice, a simple pair of lace up wrestling shoes, and step on the mat, and soon I hear the thuds and the gasps for air just as I had heard before, but now it is only me, working harder than some would imagine when none are looking.
I do not do this to talk down on those who do not, but to set a quite example for those who will follow me onto the field of battle one day, whether it be a teammate or a kid trying to find out what that light and constant droning wheeze is, because seeing another work harder to better their family when they think nobody is watching is the ultimate form of inspiration, It draws a connecting line between a want and a reality. If he can push himself harder than everyone thinks then why cannot I do the same?
If he can prove to himself that he has become stronger, then why can I not follow suit?
I can, no, I will follow his unknowing inspiration and set myself up to be a role model for the next able willed boy to walk in those swinging doors.
I see myself in this room as many have done so before and many will after I am gone, I see myself laying on the field of battle, laying there exhausted knowing that I did everything I could to help my family, to help my brothers, to help myself.
I have done what few will but many can, I have found pleasure in pain, happiness in desperation, strength in weakness, and most importantly, I have found my place among many.