I have a new theme song.
I’d been listening to a playlist composed mostly of music from Warren Miller ski movies. Ever since my ACL tear and surgery to repair it, that playlist has taken on a depressing undertone, given that it reminds me of the ski-patrol training I have to wait until December to complete. It’s easy to be patient and graceful about this when I’m at home, focusing on my recovery, but feels devastating during my weekly trips to Whitetail, where I participate in the few bits of training I can, and watch my classmates master the skills I’d hoped to have learned by now, too.
I needed a new playlist to take my mind off the big bummer this ski season has turned into for me, and to remind me that I can fight my way back into the game. One of my favorite Cake songs fit the bill perfectly:
Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
engines pumping and thumping in time.
the green light flashes, the flags go up.
churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
they deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
as they speed through the finish, the flags go down.
the fans get up and they get out of town.
the arena is empty except for one man,
still driving and striving as fast as he can.
the sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
and long ago somebody left with the cup.
but he’s driving and striving and hugging the turns.
and thinking of some[thing] for whom she still burns.
In case this isn’t clear, I’m the one man still in the arena in this scenario. While I won’t be on snow again until December, barring any summer ski trips to the southern hemisphere, every step I take in my recovery will put me closer to being ready for that. So my arena is physical therapy, where I do single-leg presses with a mere 20 pounds while I wait for my quad to “wake up” post-surgery. My arena is the pool, where I’ll train for the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim, which will help me maintain my fitness for the winter. My arena is my mind, where I’m trying to keep my thinking positive (or at least non-catastrophic).
This new playlist is geared toward the injured underdog—or anyone else who’s felt like the last man in the arena.
Bandages – Hot Hot Heat (because if you’ve had surgery, you’ve probably got some of these)
Pills – Gary Jules (ditto)
Going the Distance — Cake
I Will Survive – Cake (because it’s funny to think about yourself as a spurned lover trying to get over the loss of running, swimming, skiing, or whatever it is you can’t do. and because this is a great cover.)
Fugeela – Fugees (We used to be No. 10/Now we’re permanent One)
Survivor – Destiny’s Child (self-explanatory)
Get Right Back – Army Navy (ditto)
So What – P!nk (So what? I’m still a rock star. I’ve got my rock moves.)
Feeling Good – Muse (when you’re hurt, feeling good is a big deal)
It’s a Wonderful World – The Ramones (gratitude helps)
Estoy Aqui – Shakira (so does living in the moment)
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Have a song to add to the list? Suggest it by posting a comment below!