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I can’t keep this up.

Can I?

I’m hitting the punching bag incessantly, exploring new territory of endurance. Everything hurts. My legs and arms are no longer properly following instructions. I’ve got a wicked side-stitch like somebody stabbed me in my midsection. My mind is foggy. I can’t think straight, and I’m tired.

I’m nearly an hour into a boxing session designed to test and improve my conditioning. Skip-rope for a while, running drills, followed by many rounds of a circuit that has left my muscles exhausted. And that was just the warm-up.

I’m trying to focus on the bag, making sure I can land my shots as cleanly as I can under the circumstances. I’m trying not to forget to swing my hips even with the searing pain emanating from my torso. After all this is only 3 rounds of 3 minutes each, with a 30-second break in between — I’ll be on the other side of it soon!

Focus on the bag, focus on the bag, focus on the bag.

Wait… is it daytime or nighttime out? The door to the outside is wide open but I can’t tell anymore. I can no longer register what’s going on outside. Same goes with every other part of this gym — it’s starting to fade away. I can no longer see the front desk, or any of the other equipment. But the bag is right there in front of me. The bag is the whole wide world.

All of a sudden my breathing starts to get easier. I’m starting to move better, landing combinations. My entire world — which now consists only of the punching bag, the floor, and myself — is looking really focused and bright. Then I get this thought in my head:

Welcome to Planet Box.

Did I just stumble onto some other dimension, some other way to experience things? What if by exerting myself enough, my soul force got transported to this parallel dimension which allows me to control and manipulate my body in ways that just aren’t possible otherwise?

Because on Planet Box, no one is tired. No one has pain. No one has any worries. There is nothing but a boxer and the punching bag here. And a job to be done.

Third round is over. I’m back on Earth, trying desperately to control my breathing and slow it down, while all the pain of all the punishment my body has been taking comes back with a vengeance.

The instructor saw it fit to add a fourth round for good measure. I get back up, get into position in front of the bag, and wait for the start of the round.

Good! I hadn’t spent enough time yet on Planet Box.