To be really honest, I wouldn’t consider myself an athlete… athletic, sure, but not an athlete.
In my many attempts to make the transition from ‘athletic’ to ‘athlete’, I have competed with vigor. There are a few things that I have done athletically, football, basketball, karate and volleyball. This meek list of competitive events have taken up numerous hours and had the privilege of seeing some of my most dedicated and passionate moments. Football is the least glamorous of the list… my mother, being ultra protective of her only son would have preferred I be her only daughter, so she didn’t have to worry about me wanting to do crazy things that would injure me [or get me dirty, if we’re being honest]. That said, my mom did not let me play full contact tackle football growing up, I was restricted to playing flag football as a young chap, until I moved in with my dad. While he and I didn’t have much of what some people call a ‘relationship’, I was still his boy and he was still my dad, so, at twelve years old I finally was able to play real football [with pads and a helmet and stuff]. My lack of experience was embarrassing and troublesome and let’s just say, my tackle football career ended when I was twelve.
From some other writings, some of you may know that basketball is my first and most passionate love when it comes to sports. I have rolled my ankle more times than I would like to admit and at the ripe old age of 27 am starting to feel the stress in my knees. Basketball is the only sport that I remain active in and still compete on any level.
With two state championship trophies that are no longer in existence, I once fantasized about being the next Chuck Norris, actually to be honest, I wanted to be Jean Claude Van Damme, but that is between you and I! While I competed more in basketball than any sport, karate truly saw the fire that lies inside of me to compete and win and has also brought me my most victorious moments.
When I was in the eighth grade, I made the school boys volleyball team… I had never played volleyball outside of P.E. At a fairly young age I fell in love with the balance between finesse and fury that volleyball possesses. The fire that I had for the game of volleyball was slowly extinguished by a lack of opportunities to play during high school. After high school and over a span of about five years I would meet friends who played volleyball one night a week and those became my nights as well. My most favorite set to play in volleyball is doubles, or two-on-two. The reason I like to play doubles more than anything else is the level of intensity the game brings, when you are responsible for covering an entire half of the court, you have to be alert and ready to sacrifice your body at all times. Diving nearly face first into sand covered cement pits in order to keep a volleyball from hitting the ground may very well be one of the best feelings ever, when you hit the ball well of course. One night however, this attempt would change the flow of my body forever. I was playing the left side of the court and the ball came over the net via our opponents, over my teammates head and was headed for destination ground. The hit was spectacular and it was hit in a spot on the court where I shouldn’t have been able to reach it, however, instinct kicked in and I dove like a missile towards it’s target. My feet propelled me toward the ball, parallel from the ground and I was completely laid out, stretched as far as my body could reach. Just before I hit the ground my hand came underneath the ball and I had just enough momentum to keep it alive! When I crashed like a suicide bomber into his final destination, I heard my shoulder pop and knew that something wasn’t right. I landed with a large portion of my weight on my armpit area and to the best of my knowledge I hyper extended my shoulder. Like a ‘man’ I didn’t let my pain stop me from playing, I finished the game and competed in numerous others. Fortunately I didn’t dislocate shoulder or break my collar bone, however, what I did do… well, I have no idea what I did because I never took the time to go see a doctor or physical therapist. All I did was keep playing, even today I can pop my right shoulder whenever I want and sometimes I have to in order to relieve some of the pain/discomfort that I feel in it. It is possible that someday I may have to have surgery on my shoulder over something that was probably repairable had I taken the time to be honest about my injury and own up to the pain.
Whether we experience a blown out knee, a messed up shoulder or a broken heart, these are not pains that we are supposed to play through. I believe that our natural instinct is to say, “it doesn’t hurt, I have a game to win!” or, “I am fine.” We say these things because we don’t want to appear weak, we ultimately want people [including ourselves] to believe that we are indestructible and healthy, able to play whenever necessary. I have treated my heart like my shoulder… I am injured and I don’t always own up to the pain. Often times, I try to “play through the pain” with the expectation that pushing through it will make it go away. None of those are true, my heart needs the same rehabilitation that any serious injury needs! In the off chance that I don’t allow my heart an opportunity to heal, I may experience life altering pain and my ability to be present emotionally could erode with the health of my heart. I am injured and my first instinct is to play through the pain and not show the world my weakness. This is the very reason why I have not written much about the changes that have taken place in my life over the last couple of months.
I have felt a huge need to write this, and even at that have suppressed those feelings because I want you to believe that I am ok. I want you to believe that the injury may not be as bad as it is. And ultimately I don’t want the injury to dictate my life. Sometimes I question why I feel the need to make what should be private journal entries a public matter, my answer always comes down to the idea that maybe you [whoever you may be] is fighting a similar fight.