Sometimes bad things happen. Really bad things.
In May of 2005, my nine year old son Conner, was diagnosed with a rare, non-cancerous brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma. He rode out the storm with courage and stoicism, weathering brain surgery to remove as much of the tumor as they could get, and 31 treatments of radiation therapy, all at the University of Michigan's stellar hospital.
It took 6-7 months before he recovered into the kid he'd been before. There are still some complications with hormonal replacement, and other small issues, but most people can't tell he'd had his skull cracked open and things cleaned out. The last six weeks or so he's been playing soccer with in a league with his schoolmates. In some way's he's much tougher than his peers, in others, he's more fragile.
I haven't recovered yet. I probably never will. I live with this constant awareness of this thing, this little piece of genetic machinery that hadn't turned off, and that there is potentially a chance for it to return. There's also a raw spot in my soul, where my feeling of invinciblity has been ripped away from me. I probe it every so often, like you might probe the gap of a tooth that's gotten knocked out. Instead of the blood you might taste from a raw, empty tooth socket, I taste helplessness.
It took me thirty six years to lose that feeling. I still can't decide on whether or not I miss it. It makes me a different person, more in tune with the rhythms of being human.
Nowadays, I tend to grasp things a bit more thoroughly, and take a moment to savor the moment. Whether it's walking my dogs at six in the morning, making love to my wife, watching Conner play soccer, or his brother skillfully mow the lawn, I try to savor these sweet pieces of life, because they are important to me.
The part of my life that took the biggest hit was probably my motivation to lift weights. It went away for a long time, and I just went through the motions, lifting once a week, or sometimes once a month. The last few months it's been filtering back, and while I train, I notice there's a different kind of feeling.
It's hard to describe. Whereas before, there were many different reasons I lifted. I lifted because I loved to lift, I lifted because many of my best friends lifted. I lifted because I wanted to prove something to someone.
Now I lift to celebrate the fact that I can lift. I lift because it's fun, and I want to do it. I no longer expect to lift any specific weight. Training for a 400 pound raw bench? A 300 pound clean and jerk. A 600 pound deadlift? Maybe.
Now my workouts are me spitting into face of adversity, of the bad things in life, and a message:
"FUCK YOU! YOU KNOCKED ME DOWN BUT NOW I'M GETTING BACK UP."
It took me a while.