“Your job in life is to overcome yourself every day.” – James Victore
Disenchanted and disillusioned I daily fight the spider’s web of my own weary patterns of thought and thinking. My monsters have grown far too bold to be found hiding in the back of the closet or beneath the bed. The winged beasts have grown in their greed. Where once they slithered with serpentine subtly, they now invade in broad daylight. I often wake to find the weight of their dizzy claws gripping ever deeper into my chest as if my crippled heart were gold hoarded in the crepuscular deep of some desolate and forgotten mountain.
James Victore writes that “Dragons are real”. They are ever-present and always at the ready. “[E]very morning” we will find them curled “around [our] shoulders…quietly” snarling “into [our] ears”. They can never be permanently slain, never completely defeated, never banished once and for all, but they can be faced, confronted, and overcome through the ritual of daily work and practice.
My demons and I are on a first name basis, and in the space of writing and making art, we regularly meet for coffee. Together we sip the percolated brew with cream and consternation, tasting faintly of pralines and broken dreams. In my persistent consistency, I lower their defenses and gain their trust. I mine their dark speech for hidden truths. They are cold, secretive, and reptilian, but they cannot help but reveal the buried gems that they would hope to keep from me.
In this ritualized observance, I am attempting to take back a part of the dragons’ fire. Some days they willingly yield it, giving it over freely with an open hand. Other days it must be wrestled and ripped from the clasp of their clutches. Some days I limp away to lick my wounds, empty handed. I limp because I have striven with dragons, gods, angels, devils, and men, and I have overcome. I have overcome because the demons and I both know that, regardless of the gains or losses of today, I’ll be back again tomorrow, ready to face them yet again, and that scares the shit out of them. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare me a little too…
Yet, something joyously paradoxical transpires when we do this. We discover that, as Victore explains, “The uncomfortable spot is where [our] true voice is”. It is where we are “shamelessly and outrageously” summoned to shift into our truest of forms. In the face of the dragon is where we begin to find ourselves.
It’s here that we also come to realize that our demons may be our dearest friends and our greatest allies, because perhaps they are not demons at all but, daemons, that is, they are an inspiring force, attendant and guiding spirits ushering us into our own. If that’s true, then we are burned by flames not born of Hell but, by the fires of refinement belonging to the forge.