Cameron Conaway’s award winning book, “Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet” is free to download, but not for long!
Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, is the touching true story of a young man who overcomes a dark and violent family background and his own inner turmoil by channeling his emotions into the physical world of MMA fighting and the cerebral world of poetry and writing. The book shows the true value of personal reflection and how even life’s most painful moments can lead those willing to look to a deeper understanding and acceptance of human nature. Through author Cameron Conaway’s exquisite storytelling his audience is given a clear view of what is possible “when optimism and determination combine” to overcome difficult odds. Caged shows beautifully how the pursuit of two seemingly disparate passions helped a young and struggling boy develop into a simple yet extraordinary man. The result is a truly exceptional glimpse into the heart and mind of a modern-day warrior.
We live in a society with rerun NutriSystem commercials advertising, “Pizza, burgers, pot roast…Real food, for real men!” The assumption here is that if a man skips a pot roast for grilled salmon and a side of broccoli his manhood is up for debate. What is a real man, and why does this definition depend upon him loving pizza, burgers and Ford F-150’s? Action movies with Vin Diesel’s single emotion of anger and main activity saving weak women are still blockbuster hits. Lebron James, an icon of the NBA, storms out of the arena without so much as a handshake to the players on the team that eliminated him from the playoffs. “I’m competitive,” is the excuse he gave in a later press conference. How oddly beautiful it is then to be in a class where I am learning the most efficient ways to break limbs and choke people unconscious without the slightest bit of ego, where an instructor cries with joy when he hands a new belt color to a deserving student, where men routinely and every second in our world right now are giving up then smiling in defeat. Ultimate vulnerability. That’s manly.
I learned that the phrase “never give up” is a crock of shit. In BJJ, not giving up could leave you broken-boned or unconscious and unable to continue training. Instead, you learn there are perfectly acceptable times to give up, that the decision is not always weakness, but wisdom. It took experiences and reflections for this lesson to kick in, for me to see that the “never give up” philosophy can lead to many problems. It kept me in hurtful relationships, kept me working jobs that made me miserable. It kept me holding grudges and kept me from seeing other political, societal or religious perspectives. It caged me.
Giving up is always an option, but not always a failure.
Winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award for Best Book, the 2012 eLit Award for Essay/Creative Nonfiction, and IPPY’s 2012 Best Regional Nonfiction Award. Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet is available for free download on Amazon, but only until October 31st.