24 February 2006

Down With the Sickness

It seems you're having some trouble
In dealing with these changes
Living with these changes
The world is a scary place
Now that you've opened up the demon in me

I rediscovered my mullet side about four years ago when I heard the first single off of Believe, Disturbed's second album. At the time, I honestly thought it was a new Metallica song, having missed pretty much the whole Numetal movement in the late 1990s/early 2000s. "Prayer" really grabbed my attention, its driving beat overlayed with stirring lyrics proclaiming that "Living just isn't hard enough/Burn me alive inside/Living my life's not hard enough/Take everything away …" Seemed a perfect metaphor for my time trailing!

One of my rules is that I never buy an album unless I hear two singles that I like. That saves me from costly mistakes, and very rarely fails to provide a CD that I will listen to over and over, for a long time. I took a chance, though, in back-dating my collection to include Disturbed's first album, The Sickness -- and boy was I surprised the first time I heard the album cut of the title track! (If you're not familiar, it contains some weird dream sequence about parental abuse -- by the time they cut Believe, Numetal was on its way out, and the raw anger of Sickness had given way to more radio-friendly fare.)

So despite the initial rush I felt when I first heard Believe, I ended up shelving Sickness -- lead singer David Draiman is immensely talented, but I had no desire to hear swearing in every song, nor to be growled at repeatedly.

When the Chicago band's next album, Ten Thousand Fists, came out last year, I was enthralled. Fists combines the emotion of Sickness with the melodic tendencies of Believe to deliver a set of songs that covers a range of topics -- from political commentary to toxic relationships. It's by far their best offering yet, and has become a permanent staple in my pre-race iPod ritual.

Being the pedantic weirdo that I am, I also decided to have a "DisturbedFest" on the way back from Jingle Cross Rock. Starting with "Voices," I went through each album in turn -- and I sort of rediscovered Sickness. The raw anger no longer offends, and I have come to appreciate Draiman's ability to "scat" even as he transitions his voice into melodic harmonies that seem to defy the range of someone with a voice as deep as his.

Why am I writing about this? Because this week -- in fact, yesterday morning -- I threw Sickness on in the car. And when it got to the chorus intro on the title track, all of a sudden something just clicked.

Looking at my own reflection
When suddenly it changes
Violently it changes
There is no turning back now
You've woken up the demon in me

I am not happy with the way Groundhog turned out. I'm unsatisfied. I'm mad. I'm anxious. I'm disturbed.

There has been one thing missing in my athletic career, something I've never been able to express. From pee-wee football, through baseball, to high school, I've never really felt the burning "need" to win -- as you've seen from my writing here, I've always been satisfied with doing "the best I can." I've never had a "killer instinct."

Now I do.

I can't explain it really. I first noticed it a couple of weeks ago out in Palos. Then again last Saturday, when I was riding the trails with Jeff and Andy -- since I was unfamiliar with the area, I let Jeff take the lead. And as soon as he did, I got restless. I got anxious. I even got a little mad. And that carried through to Sunday. For the first time, I can honestly say that I felt a need to win. A need to BURY my competitors.

In the words of Disturbed: racing 'cross has "woken up the demon in me."

I will have to learn to harness it. I will have to learn to not reflect my emotion on those around me -- especially Kim, who provides so much support. And my number one objective is still to have fun out there. But god help you if you get in my way -- somehow I have found that killer instinct that has been lacking, and the push to get UCI points is no longer just a desire, it is a full-fledged NEED. Failure is not an option.

It's somewhat exciting to finally feel this way. Christmas can't come soon enough. I won't let it ruin the love I have for riding and racing. I don't want to come off like an ass to my fellow competitors. But there is a drive inside that has never been there before, and I will be able to use it to my advantage to get results.

For once, I can say I am truly Down with the Sickness.


1 comment:

dplex said...

Nothing like some edgy guitar riff stuff to feed the rage.

Check out 'Slave to the System' for some new stuff worth hammering to.

Don Lowe - once and always a rocker.