A coffee is an insomniac’s poison. Yet I still sip on one every two hours. And I think. Of incidences and memories. The kind that you never forget. A strong black coffee with little sugar and no cream is a sure way not to sleep. And when you got a bad case of insomnia, trust me it ain’t no cure.
It was on one of these more worse nights( if there’s ever is such a thing) that I sat back and thought about a memory. Not a fading one. But one that stayed etched in my mind forever. I remember that day as clear as anything. A cloudy day at the stadium. Dismal even. But was a place where a spirit of a man was not going to be diminished. Especially not by a trifle thing like the weather. This mans story goes something like this:
He was at the starting line. Of his life. He crouched down and remembered. He remembered every moment. Every breath. Every drop of sweat. Those months of preparation.
“On your marks”
He crouched down. Leg prepared to launch him to victory.
He was ready. No gun could scare him from his purpose. No pistol could hinder his path.
He was off. He felt the wind whipping through his hair. He felt the ground, light under his feet. He felt the adrenaline, pumping through his veins. He was flying. Flying through those moments built up until today. Enjoying that feeling. “What was it?” he wondered. Satisfaction? Happiness? Euphoria? He couldn’t explain it. Not now, when he was flying without wings.
Life however has a funny way of throwing us a curveball when we least expect it. Even at the top of the world. He sensed something was wrong even before it happened. One moment he was flying. Next his entire world came crashing down.
All he felt was a searing pain. It went through his left leg. He couldn’t explain the tears that fell down his face. He had never once cried when he fell. But now, he couldn’t stop the coming. Bewilderment was etched in every corner of his face.
He could hear the paramedics van coming closer. He could hear the shouts of the spectators from the stadium. He could hear his mom. Pleading with him to get up. He opened his eyes and realize what had happened to him. His age old injury had returned. Striking him harder then ever. As if teasing him. Ridiculing him. At the last 400 meters of his race. He couldn’t believe it. Why now? Why at the most important race of his life?
He couldn’t say how he felt or why he felt it. He couldn’t even register the pain properly. He was in despair. The biggest loser on the planet. That’s all he could think of himself. In his ears he heard jeers. Of people who said that he wouldn’t make it. That his past demons will haunt him. Down and beaten, he did not move. Nothing did. All was still and silent.
What happened next was unexplainable. Something. A small in significant spark. It, with no waning, built up to a roaring fire that crashed through the very core of his being. An unexplainable sense of strength and determination. His mothers voice. Maybe it was so heavily ingrained in him that he was a champion. Maybe it was himself. The part of him. The little fighter that was not always there but when awoken was ferocious. The one who knew nothing would ever get the best of him.
He got up. Painfully but with resolve. Refusing assistance, he struggled to his feet. His left leg refused to cooperate. He didn’t care. He hadn’t done months of preparation for no reason. He was going to finish the race. Regardless. One step at a time to cross that finish line.
Taking the first step was the hardest. The stadium was silent. Even the paramedics stopped telling him to take a break. His mom had only tears to shed. He looked at the hope in her face and found strength. And he took that first step like a new born baby learning to walk. Stumbling a little, he managed to take another. He learnt to focus on the moments. Not the pain.
He remembered the hours in training. He took a step. He remembered the grueling hours in the gym. And took another step. He remembered standing in front of the mirror every morning and telling himself that he could do it. Behind him the medics were following. Not asking him to stop upon realizing he wanted to continue. Daring not to ask him to slow down and stop. He wouldn’t have anyway..
The crowd was silent. The stadium was echoing. The man that had come in first was no longer important. They watched this man fighting his battle. Alone. Silently, they cheered him on. Silently they shed their tears. The silence was unnerving. It was powerful. In that silence, so many dreams were seen. So much was found. On that mans battle, many found strength.
The man kept walking. The end was near. He did not slow down. He refused to stop for breath. With huge effort, he kept walking. With all the strength he could muster, he kept walking.
When he crossed the finishing line, the crowd went wild. They cheered the true champion of the race. The cheered the man who never let his demons get the better of him. The crowd was wild, their thirst for a true champion quenched.
As for our runner? He collapsed in relief. He was satisfied. He had completed the race, regardless of what would happen next. He felt that every single thing was worth it. He had tears in his eyes. From pain, exhaustion, happiness, sadness, relief, acceptance but most of thankfulness. Thankful that he did complete the race. His heart was filled with pride because he beat his demons. Taunting him no more, they dared not touch him. He won the true battle.
He may have gotten last place, but he emerged from the race victorious that day and etched himself as a hero in everyone’s hearts. His defeat of the battle against himself gave every person in that stadium hope. He is a stranger that I saw that morning. The stranger that taught me its ok to move on. Its ok to be afraid sometimes. But never let the fear of losing out, keep you from doing all you can and being all you can be. I was one of the spectators of his race and to that man, I raise my coffee and say thank you. For that one lesson in life I will never forget.
I sip my coffee before paying another visit to my memories. I had all night and day to do this. Sleep never came over me. It was time for yet another visit……..