“People would say to me in the grocery store, like, ‘You must feel cursed,’ and I would just be like a) ‘That’s not helpful,’ and b) ‘So are you, if you think about the fact that you’re a human being and you never know when chaos will find you.’ So it made me just realize how deeply phobic we are of this idea that chaos is really a reality in this world. It is the thing that can touch and will touch us sometime in our life, and that doesn’t mean that we’re bad people or we deserve bad luck or that we’re even unlucky. It just means that that’s what happened.” — Emily Rapp, author of ‘The Still Point of the Turning World‘: A Meditation On Mothering A Dying Child.
If you are a runner (or a human, really), you have followed the news in Boston for the past two weeks, and you have struggled to make sense of what happened there.
In the hours and days after the bombing, I kept thinking: Chaos, man. Total, utter chaos. If there is something about me that has changed since losing three parents/parents-in-law over the past couple years, and since sustaining just as many weird, random injuries (statisticians who tell me these are not connected except for in my mind can go suck an egg), it is the understanding that we are not even guaranteed the rest of today. It is the understanding that anyone, no matter what that person has already endured, can, at any moment in time, face the kind of unbelievable heartache and chaos that changes everything in an instant.
We all know this logically, and we all grow to understand this on a personal level at some point in our lives. Still, it’s never easy to accept when we see it manifested in the world, especially when the chaos is as brutal and random and wide-reaching as it was in Boston.
The only thing I know is that we can look fear and doubt in the face and run anyway. We can’t overcome or go around the chaos, but we can run through it to get to the other side.
Recently, my broken elbow—an absurdly minor trauma, by comparison—has served as a visual and visceral reminder of the fact that chaos can strike at any moment, even when you’re doing nothing more than walking from your front door to your car. So it was only fitting that I started to move through, and past, the chaos in my own life by tackling the thing that scared me most: a return to the slopes following my last elbow-checkup appointment April 12. That’s why, at the last minute, I crashed Steve’s trip to see his brother and our sister-in-law in Colorado, moving my life and my deadlines to Colorado for a few days for the chance to make just a few more turns this season.
The last time I tried a comeback, I rushed to Whitetail within 24 hours of getting my doctor’s approval, then gave myself a colossal scare by banging up my elbow, which turned out to be fine after a sleepless night waiting for an X-ray to confirm that. This time, I felt a huge rush of fear before I took my first turn, and fought a low level of anxiety for the rest of the morning. But then, slowly, I eased into feeling normal again. By the end of the day, I was racing downhill to catch one last chair up.
I think this is the best we can do: Keep taking it slowly and accepting that it’s terrifying until it suddenly feels normal again. And until then, trusting that the normal will come.