Pain and Glory

November 30, 2008
By Carson Howard, Glendale, AZ

Pain and Glory

All that exists is blue and gold. On the walls, on the floor, on the ceiling. It is everywhere. It gives a subtle calmness and a feeling of bliss to the room. Unfortunately, those feelings soon dissipate and transform into a morose sense of sorrow. The room is perpetually damp, hot, and dark. It never changes. There is constantly a cloud of sweat hovering ominously above us as we work. It is a god in the senses of all men; for, it is a pure manifestation of the pain conjured during the work. The room is tiny, so very small, but with the mass amounts of boys occupying it at all times, it is always full.

There is also a peculiar scent there. It smells of stagnant dreams and broken hearts. It turns away even the most impervious of beings with its unparalleled might. It is like a flood, and the two doors of the room are the dam. The dam is never strong enough. The smell is one few should have to encounter, but unfortunately, many have. When it enters any person’s lungs, it makes them regurgitate any shred of optimism left within. They feel their chest burn and their hopes fade. They feel as if being attacked from the inside, while their nose is being smashed into their skull. There is no one cause of the overbearing stench, so it can not be stopped.

The blues in the cave like room are massive. They are too dominant and seem to enslave the gold with fear and vastness. The Golds spend their time hiding from the blues; however, it is impossible to truly escape. There is also one more color in the room, one that does not belong. It is brought by the human occupants. It is dark red, and it oozes. It is blood. The substance is the pure essence of pain. It is the manifestation of all the agony and turmoil. It helps bring down the already morose atmosphere of the room. Strangely, this evil substance is also a representation of life. Without it, no one would exist to be tortured. No one would be alive to scream when it is drawn.

Most would not think of a torture chamber when listening to the wrestling room. Most associate torture with screaming and wailing. The screams are prevalent, but they are screams of power. They surge through the wrestler’s bodies, and into our bones. They shake our souls with sheer force. They cause the spines of the many to oscillate. There are also wails, cries, and grunts. These show the effort of the true, and the deceit of the cowards. Two things are possible when one of these are heard: either the man is trying hard, using all of his energy and strength to prevail, or he wants to appear that way.

There is so much to see in this pitiful room, despite the fact that it is far too miniscule. The mats. It can be said that they were once brilliant and beautiful, but now, now they are worn with sweat and feet. They have been rubbed senselessly, and the once cushy floor, is now tough and stale. It is as if walking on wood or concrete. They have been used by hundreds for protection from the cold, hard, tile, but now they are barely a warm rock surface. Saying even this might be bold. The walls, they are no better. The cushions hung for protection there are falling. Staples pierce their skin stab at the wrestlers mercilessly. The wall pads also feel as comfortable as the cinder block walls they shield us from. There is no protection from the suffering brought about here.

The wear and tear on the floor and walls tell of the battles fought by the elite athletes that trained there. A large scrape depicts a massive dual between teammates, and bloodstains show the brutality of their love. The dents show the extreme weight carried by a person with no energy. They let all their limbs hang and walk with a terrible force. It is like some ancient giants had a war in this undersized room.

The ceiling shows it’s thoughts in gargantuan blue letters. “Who’s next!?” is written over the door, like it is challenging anyone who dares venture inside. “Pay the Price!” is painted over the record boards. It shouts for all to give what they have for victory, for victory does not come easy, and it often comes with a hefty price. Athletes have given hundreds of hours to be the best, yet rarely achieve this goal; the ceiling reminds us of that every day. It is a monster that steals time from anyone and everyone.

There is a saying, a very old one that proves true time and time again, “What does not kill you only makes you stronger.” Even though the wrestling room causes such pain and grief in my life, as well as others, there is an upside. All the marks, the smells, the stains, the sounds, the tears, the breaks, the pains; all of these symbolize the hardships that have been lived through to achieve greatness. On the withering blue mats, the scrapes that exist everywhere tell a story of happiness. They tell of fun games and playfulness. And the same goes for the wall mats. They may be torn, but they were torn by boys being boys.

There are also the sounds. They are not only of grievance but of joy. A faint whistle can always be heard in the cozy room. This whistle is the sound of the spaces god, the one person whom no one dares speak against, the coach. He sees everything, knows everything, and creates everything. Alas, even this powerful figure has a playful side. He does not obsess about victory, but instead welcomes it. And the smell. There is a nickname for that awful, putrid smell: hard work.

This room may be in a continuous vortex of dampness, heat, and blood, but only for four months of the year. When the snow melts and warmth returns to the world at the end of February, the room dries. It cools. It gets a good scrub down. It gets put back together. This is when the true nature of this maniacal creation of pain is revealed. It may be used often as a torture chamber, or a killing field, but after the four month trials, it begins to calm. The blues in the floor mats return. They become vibrant and project a great sense of serenity and bliss rather than sadness. The Gold also return to the walls, no longer afraid and bringing a sense of glory to the room, as if the last third of a year was a total victory.

The ominous cloud of sweat dissipates as well. It recedes back into the crevasse that it spawned from. It makes the air cool and dry in its absence. Best of all is the smell. There is none. It goes away, forever. The smell of nothing is something most take for granted. All that is left in the now clean, peaceful rectangle is atmosphere. Not just oxygen and carbon, but a feeling. This is a nostalgic feeling, one of great loss and great victory. One of pride and selflessness and one of brotherhood. One of trial, and one of error. It is a feeling that warms the heart of all it affects. Luckily, it will come back next season, and hopefully, the temporary room of pain and suffering will once again create a triumph for all its children, and all their brothers.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!