Everyone Gets A Black Eye...Eventually
Written By: Mark Smith
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Last week at the end of my Blog I shared a heart felt poem extolling my love for the game of basketball written while still feeling mellow and happy after a great afternoon of basketball. The poem gave the impression that my involvement with basketball was one thrilling, positive and fulfilling experience after another. Then reality hit. Back in my home gym at Carmel's Monon Center for just 10 minutes I had a member of my own team accidentally stick his entire thumb into my right eye socket! He said that he thought that it was down in there so deep that he felt some brains squishing around! I was later accused of not acting very manly when I yelped repeatedly like a whinny three year old due to the stabbing pain. It took 25 minutes to stop the bleeding, write out an incident report and ice it a bit but I was back in for the next game. I couldn't really see the basket, but I was there to play ball and I was determined that my injured eye wasn't going to keep me from doing so. Five minutes into the 2nd game a guy stepped on my foot as I was catching an inbounds pass, I lost my balance and landed squarely and extremely violently on my right elbow. It didn't hurt quite as bad as having a thumb in my brain but it was close. Almost a week later the elbow is a lot more painful. In 15 minutes of play I sustained more combined painful injuries than I had in over the decade of playing three times a week! I can assure that I didn't go home that night to write any poems about "my passion, my devotion" or all the "endless magical moments".
Life is really hard. I guess you knew that already. No matter how well things are going in your life, from time to time difficult, painful and bruising experiences befall us all. Everyone gets an emotional black eye of some sort eventually.
Just when you least see it coming a problem can develop at work, or you can have a fall out with a friend, or you get hit with a rash of unexpected bills, or you have a health issue come up. This is part of the human condition. I like to see it as the universe offering opportunities for humility and character development. I didn't get too discouraged about my injuries. I saw them as just part of the price of admission for all the good things the game of basketball has given and continues to give me. Part of the price of admission for living and loving as flawed and dysfunctional human beings is an occasional thumb to your emotional eye socket or a violent crash into hard and unyielding circumstances.
You might go through an unexpected and emotionally crushing divorce. An addiction might cause you your job. Bad things might befall your finances. Life can be downright brutal at times. I wish that wasn't the case, but we all know it it is.
To be honest, I felt sort of bruised and battered all week long. I felt weak, sore, tired and just not like myself. I had to explain my eye injury, assuring my clients, Associates and friends that I hadn't gotten in a St. Patty's Day bar fight. If fatigue makes cowards of us all then fatigue, injuries and pain can flat out turn you into a hot mess. On Wednesday a guy suggested that I retire from the game and on Friday I played some of the most ineffective and uninspiring basketball I had played in years. But again, I was not really discouraged. Everybody struggles from time to time. You can't always bring your A game to life. Circumstances conspire to slow you down and cause you to be a bit wimpy or just not with it from time to time. You have to learn to be gracious and gentle with yourself when you aren't at your best. The rain falls of the just and the unjust alike. Bad things happen to good people. I know these phrases seem trite but they are true.
Sometimes life does more than bruise. The worst basketball experience of my life was almost being run over by a car that exploded through the Jordan YMCA in January of 1997.
Sometimes life offers us nightmarish things like cancer or suicides or accidental deaths of loved ones. The pain from those experiences can last a lifetime and then even impact generations to come. Being human is wonderful but it is hard from time to time. Thank God for the healing balm of cleansing tears, supportive friends, the gift of therapy and time, time and more time.
I am on the mend. I will be back to my trash talking, shot forcing, basketball loving self here in a few weeks.
Bruises heal. There is life and happiness after divorce. Learn everything you can about yourself as a result of what happened in your marriage. Your pain is trying to communicate with you. There is no failure, just feedback! Your life is about you, not what your spouse did to you. You know, life might be too boring if everything always went perfectly according to plan. Coming back from injury or depression or divorce or an affair that your spouse had or alcoholism or bankruptcy can make for an incredible story that can inspire others to get better too. Get out there on your court again. Be careful but don't be afraid. Life is so good and rich and worth embracing, even with the occasional thumb in the eye! Have faith and hope and determination. If you do, good things will come your way.
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