I have a fear.
It’s not a fear of failure, nor success. Not spiders (okay, kind of) nor death—not irrationally, at least.
I don’t lose sleep over finances, bad performances, or soured relationships. Injury? Maybe. I mean, lucha libre is innately a dangerous sport, and many careers and lives have been ended as a result of injuries sustained in and around the ring.
Such fear is, of course, attached to an auxiliary fear: The fear that I’ll lose skills that I do not use. As the old adage states, “practice makes perfect.” Therefore it stands to follow that an unpracticed practice makes imperfection, and imperfection can lead to injury, and injury can lead to the end of a career.
But mostly this self-flagellation isn’t even about injury, training, or practice: I train my ass off, all of my teachers have regarded me as a good student, and I generally practice a policy of consent—meaning I’m not willing to spontaneously experiment a potentially dangerous move without knowing that both my partner and I are capable of pulling it off safely.
So no, it’s not the potential for injury that worries me.
Occasionally these fears are induced by the thought that what I do, that which I pursue, that which compels me “to do,” could ultimately be tantamount to nothing. The fear that outside of itself, the work, the training, the traveling, the countless hours of sweat and practice and exertion and pain and body dysmorphia and late nights covered in grime and glitter and sweat will all be swept into the dustbin of history, essentially amounting my career in lucha libre to a masturbatory act. This is especially true when considering the possibility of failure, of not succeeding in the business.
But I enjoy lucha libre in and of itself: my level of commercial success doesn’t necessarily directly impact my happiness. So no, it is not failure that I fear.
It’s more difficult to triangulate what scares me: it’s much more abstract.
I have a fear of the will-and-can-never-be-known, of being forced to consider those alternative timelines.
A fear of “what if?”
That in my old age a fit of nostalgia will incite that often painful stroke of hindsight: what if I had trained harder? More often? Where would lucha libre have taken me if had I truly pushed myself to my limits?
What if I had made different choices? What if I had taken different performance opportunities? What if I had come to Mexico sooner? What if I had started lucha libre sooner? Chosen a different name? A different mask? No mask?
I fear those moments of steeping in deep reflection and the unforeseen— yet inevitable and obnoxious— sting of regretful hindsight, to which I can merely retort “that time has come and gone” and hope that I’ve soothed the self-induced guilt. In moments of clarity I realize this is all, of course, trivial: these are decisions I made at another time and in another place. Many decisions were also made out of ignorance (how could I possibly have known that I’d want to go to Mexico to wrestle?).
But something is different now: I’ve noticed that as of late, such moments of regret are infrequent and fleeting. Perhaps it is because several years of preparation, work, training, traveling, countless hours of sweat and practice and exertion and pain and body dysmorphia and late nights covered in grime and glitter and sweat, have all lead me to what I’m doing right now: living in Mexico City and training with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. This is not to say that I’ll be debuting in a CMLL ring in the next month or so. But for now that’s not the point: this is the most accomplished and happy I’ve felt in lucha libre in a long time.
Years ago I tried to move to Mexico City and eventually ran out of money. Nearly 7 years later, I’ve made it back here with purpose and focus. And I couldn’t be any fucking happier.
Well, maybe I will be once I get a puppy.