“Silencing the Demons”
“You’ve got to love a man who writes books about the Tour de France, King Arthur, horse racing and the fabulously titled tome “The Elderly Writer’s Guide to Indifferent Young Women’. The gent in question is Graeme Fife, an English writer, essayist, poet, broadcaster and obviously a lover of sports and women– even if the feelings are not always returned.
I came across him recently in a cafe in San Francisco. Not him in the flesh you understand, but his words, his spirit. Appropriately enough we had popped in for a coffee and to watch the latest round of the Tour de France. High on the wall, above the massive video screens was the following quote:
“The greatest battle is not physical but psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet, the steady dignity that simply refuses to give in. Courage. We all suffer. Keep going”
It was one of the simplest, yet most eloquent expression of the struggle we all face in trying to quieten the voices inside our head that tell us we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not worthy enough. Those voices may pop up in a race up and down the mountains of southern France, or a tennis match with an old friend, or just in every day life, but one way or another we’re all victims of them.
I found the words wonderful because they are a reminder that just as we are struggling to get through, to succeed, or sometimes simply just to hold on, others are going through exactly the same thing. The doubts and uncertainties, the crises of confidence or faith, the insecurities that we are feeling, are felt by millions of others all around the world.
We, none of us, are free of these demons. Sometimes they win, beating us into submission. Sometimes we win. And it’s those triumphs, however few and far between, that ultimately keep us pushing forward.
Dreams don’t come cheap. Success doesn’t come easily, or last. It’s a daily struggle. A lifelong battle. And it’s only at the end that we can see if we have held true to ourselves, to our hopes, and tried our best. We may not have won, but in fighting, in trying, in persevering we have found something even greater than an occasional victory. We have found ourselves.”