Friday, 12 June 2015

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

I write now mere hours after finishing in an abysmal 20th place at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon in the discus throw having been ranked 8th or 9th.  I had my third shortest meet of the year and it's really tough to deal with all the negativity in my head right now.  In fact, I have developed quite the headache.

Let me go on a good old ramble because this is probably the thing I need most right now.  This was my 3rd major sub-par meet in my life.  I came 5th at the IAAF World Youth Championships in 2011, having been ranked 2nd.  I finished 15th at the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2012, having been ranked 8th.  And now today, my lowest ever position on any level in any discus competition.  My previous worst was that 15th from 2012.  I have received gut punch after gut punch at the major meets.  The worst part was that I trained so well on Tuesday at Hayward Field.  If I had one of those throws today, it would have been much different.  Yet, that's not how life and sport work.  There is no prize for winning training sessions.  Unless your effort is displayed on the big screen and in terms of medals about your neck, there is no glory.  This is a terribly hard thing about athletics.  You can fixate yourself on something for years (9 and a half for me) and then seem like a fricken noob on competition day.  After my performance today, you wouldn't think that I actually had a really good season so far with many breakthroughs and firsts.  Yet the pain of inadequacy and under-performance looms awfully large.  It was embarrassing to be on the field today after my third and final attempt.  The 11 000 people in the stands must have wondered what this effeminate guy was trying to do - competing with men? Bah!

I now, more fully, understand the pain of higher level sport.  Man oh man, I now feel so deeply for the Brazil footballers after bowing out to Germany in the World Cup semis (does 7-1 ring a bell?).  I remember sitting in a tent right after the discus - gruesome thoughts were mulling through my seared mind.  I was doubting my worth as an athlete and actually as a human.  I already struggle with a brittle self-esteem because of negative thought patterns (such as an inferiority complex) I have had for many years.  Believe me, I am fighting these ancient negative thought patterns very hard and I have made great strides but losses such as today only seem to scratch open old painful wounds.  I guess, I still have much work to do (to overcome these old demons) because the man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right.  It's all in my hands but there are still times when the ancient titans are too strong for the contemporary heroes.  That's one thing I have learned about neurosis and mental struggles - you never truly eradicate them from your history.  You only better learn to tie them down and inoculate them before they can attack.  If you let your guard down for just a tad too long, the neurosis is back in it's full evil glory, but this time with a fervent determination to make up for lost time.  My biggest battle has always been with self-esteem (most prominently social self-esteem) and to a lesser extent self-worth.  So, until the end of time I will have to teach myself to consider myself worthy of another person's time and, maybe one day, know that I am worthy of another's life.  Yet, that future Avalon/Valhalla/Sovngard/Utopia/Paradise is still a distant one for me.

I join the ranks of The Fallen once more.  Once more I am subject to the annals of history where... no, wait there are no records kept of The Fallen.  The moment they depart us from this Good Earth they are made a distant memory, slowly disappearing from history as the rememberers are sent into the abyss themselves.  Ere the midnight strike, we are but gone from even being a byword for the greatest historians.  We are lost. Gone.  Forsaken from time.  Such is the story of failure.  Such are the struggles of not achieving.  Such and so are the days of our lives.  The feast and the famine.  The light and the dark.  The victor and the vanquished.  The Yin and the Yang.  The life and the death.  Ashes to ashes we flow as leaves tossed to and fro in the perpetual winds of time - only to be brought hence by fate and chance.

If it is fate and chance, then this must be our destiny?  Or maybe we tell ourselves this is our destiny so that we do not have to more truly accept the horror of reality?  Reality bears an inconvenient truth that can topple empires and annihilate nations, but those who embrace it are deemed free.  For the truth will set you free, but never was it said that the truth will cast you in the everlasting lake of bliss. Nay, the truth only lets the veil over our eyes be cleaved asunder and allows us to breathe, to look, to hear, to smell, to taste, to love, to hate and to experience more fully, more authentically.  As someone who appreciates authenticity more than almost anything in this life - it's a blissful death.  It's beautiful to die consumed in the reality.  To know that you finally know beyond any doubt.

Yet, I cannot say that I know, but I will suppose for now is that this Shadow that has encompassed me round about can maybe mean something to you.  Maybe my lamentations of my life and the honesty whereby I make these innards so public to the world might make you realize that there is another who struggles - just like you.  I feel the depth of the field of the pain, both in the emotional and physical realm, of yours.

I must take a moment to say sorry.  As I said in my most recent post on Facebook, this may be an individual sport, but without other people it would be pointless.  I am sorry for building up your hopes and then fail thereupon.  I am sorry I had to take away all the time and money that was spent on taking me to this meet away from someone else who might have done far greater things.  I am sorry for everybody who has to read to this and be saddened.  I am sorry for all those who will attempt to console me.  I am sorry for taking your time.  Most of all I am sorry to my parents.  Anders as myself, het ek sekerlik vir julle die meeste teleurgestel.  Ek wens ek kan net een dag vir 'n slag met oorwinning huis toe kom sodat ek darem kan probeer om vir al jul opofferings iets terug te bring.  Die NCAA trofee sou vir julle wees, maar helaas.

However, know also that this train ain't stoppin'.  We may have returned this campaign dead on our shield back to our abode, but that is only the physical body.  The mind and the soul still lives on.  It may be that the flame of this soul that has burned so bright and hot before has lost some of it's Kelvin and Lux, but I am here and I still live.  For now, the catharsis and lamentations will run their course, but the flame of this revolution will not be stilled so easily.  Get thee hence, Satan, for I know my God has given me the strength to overcome this.  And so I shall, that maybe if the only mark I left upon this world would be that I kept going, I never surrendered, I never lost the war and most of all, that I ran (threw?) the race until the very finish line - not an inkling before, but certainly anything beyond; albeit I receive no reward at the end of it, as long as it bodes well for the End of All Days.  Onward, to a new dawn, however long this night may still be; this shadow is only a passing thing - for our day will come.

From The Fallen