Graveyards of the Valiant

We all have demons. Our insecurities, doubts and fears all lurk in the dark places of our conscious. It's universal. Life is not always shiny and new. Our existence is a mix of dark and light, but rarely a muted tone of grey. Some have subtle shades. Others have big, bright places and deep, dark shadows.

Our heroes inspire us because they have the courage to shine light into the darkest caves of their being in an effort to chase down their demons, to face them, to challenge them. Our heroes don't sit in front of a TV, or behind a bottle on a bar top. They don't hide among the crowds of people content with being average. Our heroes don't make excuses. They don't grow bitter in defeat; they become stronger.

Those whom we consider luminaries seem to be sources of light. They chase dreams and share moments of brilliance most of us will never experience. We, as witnesses, are often comforted by the radiation of their energy. We are drawn to this light and encourage the flame.

What we often don't see is that these bright lights are shining into the darkest voids. We can't see the fear, doubt and pain that haunt others. The dark places are ours to face alone. Our heroes appear to be chasing dreams. They are often hunting demons as well.

Blessed are those whom have the courage to use a gift to illuminate the darkness. The performance we see is simply a medium, a force to use against the negative gravity that pulls on us all. At their best, our heroes dare to enter the darkness and say, "Today, here, now, I will face fear and doubt. I will see what makes me."

Sometimes the demons win. When the medium, the gift, is a sport like skiing the battle takes place in an unforgiving arena. Our demons tempt us. They make us believe that today, here, now, we can beat them. We believe a moment of brilliance will bring eternal light. We believe the risk is worth the reward. We are fooled. On the surface it looks like the avalanche or the fall is what steals a person's existence; but this fails to tell the whole story. The mountains don't claim our heroes; their demons do.

It is a privilege to go to the mountains, to use a gift, to shine a light onto the source of fear and doubt. It calms us, quiets the restlessness and provides us a sense of balance. But it's not a battle we can win. The darkness will never go away. We have to learn to explore it, to understand it, to accept it as a part of life. It may seem courageous to pursue eternal peace though a moment of excellence; but the mountains are graveyards of the valiant.

We will miss the brilliance of our heroes and friends whom lost their battles. They lived so brilliantly that they illuminated our lives as well. If we are to honor them, it should be for their courage and effort, as well as their performances. We would all be so lucky to recognize our gift and use it to face that which scares us the most. For the sake of those whom are still here, we must recognize that we can't eliminate the darkness of our conscious; we can only make it less dark. And remember, it is these shadows that give our brightest moments depth. 

Donny Roth