When my car broke down last month, I remember being glad my problem was with my car instead of dealing with an injury. I guess I’ve learned not to give the universe any ideas…
It was like a dream. 24 inches of fresh snow and I had just moved to a place 5 minutes from the resort. It was day one of the best 5 weeks of winter break I could ask for. I got up, spent a long tine digging my car out from under 2 feet of God’s gift from heaven, and set out to shred the freshies. Conditions were amazing. There’s no other way to describe gliding through fluffy, cold smoke pow, other than pure Nirvana. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, the sun came out, and they opened up a run everyone had been eyeing all day. It was a steep field of untouched powder. It’s the thing all snowboarders and skiers dream about. There were little bumps and lips around, making for fun kickers that sent you into a soft, fluffy landing. However, powder is not entirely consequence free.
I just remember going really fast, slashing rooster tails at every turn, and searching for jumps to launch off. My last thought until my day took a turn for the worst was “Damn, this is probably the best run I’ve ever had!” Then suddenly, towards the end of the run, one of those bumps caught me by complete surprise, and I flew superman style with my arms out in front and flipped head over heels a couple times (AKA the tomahawk). I assumed I was OK, but then I realized I could not move my left arm. Surely this can’t be happening. On day one of winter break?
All throughout the day I kept seeing ski patrol being dispatched, and I’d see all those poor people being pulled down in a sled. Every time I’d think “Oh man, I’m sure glad that’s not me”. That day was my lucky day, and I got to go for a little sleigh ride down to the gondola and into the clinic where they put my shoulder back in its place. Without the sling on it felt like it was going to come out again just hanging there. There was no way I was going to go out riding the next day. There went my winter break.
I was only able to get to the doctor a week later since I couldn’t drive, and when I finally went, all he said was that I was out for the season and I had to wear this crazy immobilizer thing for 6 weeks. For 6 weeks, he said I would not move my arm at all. It was like a cast. Only after the 6 weeks could he start rehab and building up the weak arm that had not been moved for so long. So by the time I would be deemed “completely healed”, it would be April.
The same day I got that diagnosis, someone decided to hit and run my car, which had been fixed a week ago after last month’s incident. Things were really looking bright.
Some people wonder how I stay positive through my frustrations. The whole reason I moved to Tahoe was to ride every day, and this year, we finally had snow! My thanksgiving break plans were de-railed, and now this?
I got my inspiration from a guy who lived thousands of years ago named Job. He had it all - thousands of sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and servants. (Back in those days, if you had a lot of animals, you were the G!) He was the richest man in the entire area. Then one day, he lost everything – all his material possessions were lost or burned. In addition, all his children were killed and he came down with a terrible disease. Compared to him, my week was rainbows and ponies.
And when all this happened, Job worshipped God – the same God he could easily blame for what had happened to him. I heard this story at church about a month ago, back when my life was fine-and-dandy. I wondered why I remembered that message.
I’m not perfect. I definitely threw a few pitty parties when I was house bound on a bluebird powder day, unable to drive anywhere – even to the store to get food or to the doctor to start doing something about my injury. The thoughts in my head were definitely not positive when I dug my car out from another 2 feet of frozen-ice-snow with one hand. I’ve learned that it’s ok to feel things. For some reason, the only emotion I never really felt was anger. I just kind of accepted it, because if there’s nothing you can do about a situation, then I can at least see how I can view it from another perspective. I have a house to live in, great food, and a healthy rest-of-my-body. I’m glad my car was hit-and-run instead of hit-with-me-driving-it. In the scheme of it, everything on earth is temporary. I’m one person an a little dot flying through the vast endlessness of space. Life is pretty good so far. In this past month, I've realized that when life sucks, it makes me think about how it could be worse, and I'm actually more grateful for the little things than when life is going well.
The doctor doesn’t know me, my passion for snowboarding, or my God. I am not taking “out for the season” as an option. As an extreme sport athlete, you just have to push through and know that these things will happen. There’s a fine line between being downright stupid and persevering through injuries. If I don’t make smart decisions, my shoulder will keep falling out for the rest of my life. But then again snowboarding is my love and my life, and to go an entire year without it would be more painful than this injury.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so determined to prove someone wrong, and so sure that I will do so.
“The twerking monster is very scary and has no eyes. It comes if you twerk too much and you will really regret it!”
I worked with children from Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and one day, one of them decided to corrupt the others and teach them how to twerk. And I had to deal with this. So I came up with the brilliant idea of the twerking monster.
“He hasn’t come for me yet!” said one of the first graders.
“That’s because you’re not doing it correctly. This is how you do it!” Said a third grader.
I put him on timeout before he could start doing anything.
Then another first grader (who was secretly one of my favorites) came up to me and asked in all sincerity if the twerking monster was real. I told him it was very real, and very scary, and that’s why he shouldn’t twerk. Then he said,
“Well I’m not afraid of anything!”
“Really, nothing at all?”
And that’s when I started to get deep. I suddenly wondered, what is my greatest fear? I had never really thought of that. I sat and stared into space until it came to me. And that’s what inspired this poem…
Everyone’s scared of something.
What about me?
What do I fear above all?
So I sat and thought,
And stared into space.
And suddenly it came to me.
What if I don’t face my fears?
What if 70 years from today
I wish I had taken more risks?
Set higher goals?
Been terrified more?
It’s not the risks I fear,
But rather the risks I don’t take.
I don’t fear failure
I fear success at things that don’t matter
I fear my comfort zone
Not leaving it, staying cozy.
On the surface I feat getting hurt
But deep down I fear a safe life.
I fear plateau,
Moments that could have been
Dreams broken by timidity.
Fear was made to prevent death
But in reality,
Doesn’t it just prevent life?
When people asked “how was you thanksgiving break?”, I was not sure how to respond. So I told them my story. Not a story of woe, but just a story. Maybe it didn’t go as planned – the plan being to shred the endless pow every day. But you know, I did learn a valuable lesson – that when you know can’t control the situation, can definitely control the way you see it.
So here’s the story:
Let me be honest. I was playing hooky on my business management class that last day before a week long Thanksgiving break. It’s just that it had been 5 days since I had last been snowboarding, and I was about to have serious withdrawals. So I got in my car, blasted some dubstep, and headed towards Boreal. About three quarters of the way into the journey, as I turn left onto highway 80, I realize that the little thermometer needle is all the way past hot. Like beyond the red zone. But I’m going 60 mph up a hill. Maybe it always does that, I think. I see the exit sign, Boreal ski area: 2 miles. Ok I’m gonna make it. I can do this. Boreal ski area: ½ mile. And suddenly I couldn’t see – black smoke started pouring from the hood. Okay, I guess that’s not really normal. In a scramble for life, I came to a halt and grappled for the door and ran as far away as I could. And it was at that moment, watching my Subaru engulfed in smoke with my all my snowboarding gear inside, that I realized how little material possessions matter in this world. The emotion I remember was happiness – that I was outside on the side of the road instead of trapped inside.
And I kept thinking of the same sentence, over and over. It was like the theme of my day:
“there is no good or bad, there just is”
Over the weekend I was dying to go snowboarding. I had turned down going home for thanksgiving because I wanted to snowboard, and now I was stuck in my dorm, alone, writing this stupid blog post and going to bed at 9. I tried to bum rides off people, but everyone seemed to go home during thanksgiving break. With a huge snow storm outside, I was essentially house bound for a couple days. The mechanic originally told me it would be ready on Friday, the day after I was towed in. Then Monday. Then on Tuesday afternoon, they called and said,
“I’m afraid we can’t save it”
I couldn’t believe this had happened after only 2 months of owning my own car. People think I’m joking when I say my dream car was a Subaru outback. Not just any Subaru outback, but one of the older models, complete with dents and scratches. Those new ones are too shiny and don’t even look like dirtbag snowboarder cars. They look like rich people cars. Ew. This one was literally everything I wanted. I had even plastered the back with stickers. It was complete with a ski rack, snow tires, and even a few small dents to add character. Plus it was a stick shift - which I wanted just cause I can. I could identify a lot with it. We were both made in 1997. We were both built for the snow but had spent the first 18 years of our life in the Bay area. Finally, in 2015, we had found our true home together in the mountains and were finally living where we were truly meant to live.
So this past week I have realized that my problems really are nothing in the scope of things. Situations could always be worse. Maybe it was my fate to get injured snowboarding this week. What if the car actually did catch on fire? What if it had been totaled – along with myself – in a 95 mile per hour accident with a big rig? What if the words "I'm afraid we can't save..." Came from a doctor instead of an auto mechanic? Seriously, this really is nothing. Mainly, I learned that bad stuff happens, but bad attitudes don’t just happen. Also, your situation can always be worse.
So how was my thanksgiving break? You know I did get to ride a couple of those days, bumming rides off a few people, (One of the people I rode with had their car break down too). I made friendships now that I actually had to – gasp – talk to people when I wanted to go somewhere, and I did go to a local thanksgiving community dinner. For those dorm-bound days, I had nothing to do but plow through writing my 10 page research paper and was done with it by Wednesday, and let me just say that Sunday night Hanalei was extremely pleased with that. I’m going to learn to appreciate having a car more when I get it back. For now I’ll have to be a person with actual social skills and ask people for rides. This past week was not a bad week. I could even argue that it was a good week. But all I know is that there is no good or bad, there just is.