Monday, February 10, 2014

How to be an Olympian

As I've been watching the Sochi games this Olympic year, I've been seeing and hearing a lot of stories about the athletes and their physical trials and tribulations. Their many injuries and surgeries they have had to endure for their sport. The speed skater who had horrifically cut his quad down to the bone from a fall. The slope-style snow boarder who fractured his rib on a rail. The skier who lost her legs because of a deadly disease where surprisingly, out of nowhere, almost took her life.

What occurred to me is their immense fearlessness, the force that drives them so much, that it's not a matter of how many surgeries they need before they get better. How much it hurts to snow board with a broken rib. Or even, who needs legs to ski down a mountain at ridiculous speeds. It's how fast can they get back to doing what they love to do. When they can strap on their gear and head down that slope. It's no matter what, they want to, with all their hearts, compete in this Olympics. No matter how much pain. No matter how much they have weakened.  

I have been contemplating for the last several months to get a surgery done. Where a nerve stimulator would be placed on my spinal cord to intercept the chronic pain I have in my left ribcage from a diaphragmatic hernia repair that took place in 2009 that almost took my life. The nerve stimulator implant is not the riskiest procedure out there, but it's definitely not the least risky either. When the doctor starts talking about chances of paralysis, or even just severe muscle spasms, fear does cloud my thoughts and makes me not want to do it. Having undergone three surgeries in my early lifetime, I know I'm a slow healer and the pain that comes with each surgery, and these are facts that are sometimes almost unbearable to think of and impossible to ignore. With my body, it always seems to be Murphey's law. Nothing goes as well as it was supposed to.

But in some light that has shed on me as I hear the stories of these injured Olympians, I have started to realize, that it is not the pain, the suffering, the loss of limbs, the fear of never being healed, it is the passion to perform that overrides all of those worries. That the risk, is so very much worth the potential reward. That if they did not try to become healed, they could never feel complete. And if they did not compete in this physical game of life, they could not win.

It would be an absolute miracle if the stimulator could take away my pain that I've been living with for almost five years. And who's to say that it's not a possibility? I could be staring down at that snowy slope, more than ready to take on a mountain of gargantuan obstacles. I could be poised upon the ice, ready to race with my competitors. I could be flying through the brisk air, broken rib healed, just thinking about how I will land.

How are we to be Olympians? Be fearless. Risk big. Keep your eye on the prize. Because who knows, there could be a podium in your future. A medal to adorn your neck. A familiar anthem played in your honor. Just take that first leap of faith. That fearless path that could take you to victory. That peace and the wholeness of knowing, who did all you could. That's how.

"You haven't failed, until you quit trying." - Anonymous