We all have them.
Dates that we will never forget. Moments stamped in our memories so clearly it’s as if we could still be there – except we’re not. We’re here.
I have three that are especially memorable:
- September 2, 1997. The day I was held up at gunpoint at the movie theatre where I worked in Austin, Texas.
- September 11, 2001. We all share this one – no explanation necessary.
- July 30, 2013. The day I broke my kneecap and dislocated the patellar tendon on my way to the treadmill at my local Community Center.
There are plenty of others, of course. Some good, some bad. Things like getting married, completing a half Ironman, the loss of loved ones, the start or end of good friendships, and so on. Some are the highest of highs, and some represent the lowest of lows. For better or worse, they shape who we are and how we look at the world around us.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in dealing with or planning for major life events that we forget that these events are our lives. The path to who we are today started yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. And if we sit around waiting for “someday,” we will miss the journey altogether.
I have been reminded of this so many times over the last year. One year ago today, I embarked on a journey that I was not planning to take.
And while I would certainly choose not to break my kneecap if given the choice, I have learned a lot about life in the past year as I have tried to claw my way back to “normal.” As they say, scars are memories you can’t forget, and I have a great big memory on my left knee that reminds me where I’ve been every single day!
The new normal
The funny thing about normal is that it’s a constantly moving target.
Normal for me three years ago was to go for a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run back-to-back on the same day.
Normal two years ago was to spend hours on my mountain bike exploring the forests near Bend, Oregon.
Normal last year was spending days at a time on the couch with my left leg propped up on a pillow hoping I didn’t have to get up because just getting up was a chore in and of itself.
Normal now is being happy to take my bike for a 5 mile spin in the sunshine on a random Tuesday afternoon. Or, taking dog on a long, leisurely stroll. Or, going swim in the lake with a friend at the crack of dawn just because.
I used to identify as an athlete (a mediocre athlete, but an athlete nonetheless), charging towards a goal, always in search of the next big challenge. Without the depth and breadth of all my activities, I had been coming up a little short in the fulfillment side of my life for many months. That has been changing lately, though, as I am starting to see small glimmers of my old self again, but with a new lens.
The pursuit of a “normal” life after a setback has given me a totally different perspective on a lot of things, and, it has made me so much more compassionate that I ever was before. Having never broken a bone or had any kind of long term medical issue, I had no real perspective on what it’s like to come back after a major injury. It is has also taught me the mental aspects of never giving up and what compassion for others really is.
It takes unexpected detours to appreciate what you have in your life.
I used to live for the destination: The end of a work project. The completion of a remodel. The next big race.
“It’ll be so great when X happens,” I’d think.
Maybe you’ve been there? Your eye on a prize, with the rest of the world whizzing past you at 100 MPH. Your nose in your cell phone or computer, looking at where you have to go next or what you have to finish today.
That’s not me anymore. I finally understand that the twists and turns of daily life are the destination. Today is all we can guarantee, and we have to make today the best it can be.
The destination is the journey, and, that is a beautiful thing.
If I can share anything from my ongoing journey back to health, it’s to appreciate the day for what it is – a building block that set up all your tomorrows. Embrace it, and you will find fulfillment!
Let me know in the comments:
What are some of the major moments that have built you?