The Devil walks into the gym with me, but he never walks out.
How is that?
And when I say Devil, I don’t mean in a religious sense. I’m not that kind of girl, despite the best efforts of my devoutly Catholic parents. They could dress me up but not really get it to stick once I ventured out into the world. (And I might quibble that I am spiritual, but not religious in the traditional sense.)
No, when I say Devil, I mean the dark thoughts in our minds, the dark part of all our souls.
The unkind thoughts, the mean words, the black void which we all stumble and fall into at some part of our hour, or day, at different points of our year, and, yes, this happens repeatedly in our lives. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t falter in their thoughts (if not their actions) sometimes. It’s part of being human.
Maybe it’s the warm-up that hurts him and it’s the workout that kills him, but definitely somewhere along the way, he stops breathing. Maybe along the same time that I feel like I’ve stopped breathing. (Or at least it feels like I’ve stopped breathing, although I know my lungs inflate with air and do their thing with the red blood cells to extract oxygen.)
The only thing I know is that, at some point that I can’t name, the devil inside is gone, and I am free of the darkness.
Maybe they’re right. I don’t know. But, after you plunge into the dark parts of yourself and rise into the light again, life expands and (to paraphrase the poet Rilke) you can let yourself toll, and be the better for it.
Silent friend of those far away, sense
How your breath expands space.
Amidst the beams of the gloomy belfry,
Let yourself toll. It is a succubus who
Feeds on your sustenance.
Enter and exit, in your metamorphoses.
If your experiences have been painful
And drinking them has been bitter, turn them into wine.
In this night of excess, be
Magically empowered, at this crossroads of your feelings,
And become the meaning of this strange conjoining.
And if what is of earth forgets you,
Say to that earth of silence: I flow.
Say to the rushing waters: I am.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, “Sonnets to Orpheus” Part II, Number 29