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Pain and Joy

My diaphragm wouldn’t work. The pain held my chest immobile as I tried to calm my mind. “This will be temporary. It will get better.” But the pain didn’t let up. My head collapsed to the ground between my hands.

Finally, my chest started to move, painful and uncooperative. I heard a rasp of a roar of a pair of skis as someone stopped nearby. “Are you OK?”

I responded, “I think I just knocked the wind out of myself.”

“Do you need me to get someone?”

“I don’t think so.”

I heard the quiet sliding of skis head downhill. I swear it took another thirty minutes before I could stand up and finish my second run of the season. It probably took less than thirty seconds, though.

Less than two minutes prior, I had locked my feet into the bindings on my snowboard and started down the slope, watching my son and daughter. His snowboard and her skis left serpentine trails down the hill ahead of me. I followed, paying closer attention to them than where I was going. The snowboard flowed smoothly, but my new boots were stiffer than I was accustomed to.

For our first day of the season, both of them were doing great. I felt my board working to the left side of the run, following the slope’s grade. Unworried, I focused on my kids. Suddenly, I realized only shadows were below my board, and the ground anchored my toe-side edge, wrenching me forward; my body and face slammed to the ice over my arm twisted under my body.

After my recovery, I worked my way down the lone run toward the chalet. Pain pulsed through my left knee, surprising but not overwhelming. After a light snack, some water and a few minutes to gather my scattered thoughts, I walked back out to strap in and head back up the lift.

At some point, you’ll be doing something you know should command your full attention, but you take your experience for granted. The joy of letting your instincts take over lulls you into a comfortable flow. Then something reaches up and smacks you in the face.

I’ve been snowboarding since 1989, so I should know better than to think I could focus on what my kids were doing more than where I was heading. The joy of finally hitting the slopes was overwhelming, and the pain of that first wipeout reminded me of the potential for danger.

When doing something you love, pain and joy can both be part of it. The pain can teach you a lesson, while the joy will keep you going.

Don’t let pain, or even fear of pain, keep you from doing things you love.

  • Just me

    Loved reading this to dad while hating the feelings that were sommer-saulting my heart. Love you.