Thursday, September 13, 2007

Within the sound of my voice

I recognize that it's been a while since my last post. To be truthful, I haven't been thinking that much about fencing. I'm sure this is due largely to the fact that it's been over a week since I've been able to go to practice, but hopefully I won't suffer for that too much tonight.

What got me thinking was this weekend's episode of This American Life. The subject was the devils inside each of us and one of the stories was about the Voice that many of us suffer inside our own heads. I have several of them. One of them makes me stay in bed too late. One of them makes me eat things just because they're there. And one of them likes to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body.

I first became acquainted with this last voice when I was a runner in high school. The voice was sometimes kind and sympathetic and would say to me in the middle of a cross country race, "You're tired. Who do you need to prove yourself to? There's no need to push so hard." Sometimes the voice was cruel but practical and would say, "You know you're not going to win this race anyway so just knock it off. What's the difference in 10th place and 15th place anyway? They both suck." Yet again, sometimes the voice was just downright wicked, "Look how tired you are! Look at that hole! If you were to twist your ankle right now, you'd be able to rest and everyone would want to take care of you." Luckily I never gave in to that last voice, but it was unfailing in its arrival on steep inclines.

During my years of sloth after college, I lost touch with this voice. Perhaps it was sated by my indolence and lulled into gratified slumber. But since I have started fencing, it has roused itself again and I find that often during tournaments I am facing two opponents, one of which lives inside my head. I suppose I should be glad that it is not ever present, but it likes to strike when I am weakest: when I have slipped up or am facing an especially daunting opponent. The voice was the winner during my div 2 event at nationals.

Unfortunately, This American Life did not extend its broadcast to offering ways to foil our inner devil. Attempting to drown out the voice with an internal mantra has met with some success, as has simply getting better and more confident in my fencing. But I have a feeling that the voice will never be squelched entirely and that my best recourse is simply to become better at arguing.

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