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Life is like poetry: you have to write it to really believe it. You have to feel the pen in your hands as you write each letter hoping that this will finally be your big break. But you see, sometimes, well most of the time, it’s never your big break, and you know that, but you also know that there is no way that you’ll ever give up. You know that no matter what obstacles life throws at you, it’ll never matter; you’ll always run over that hurdle as fast, as hard, and as strong as you can. The hurdles could never get high enough, the wind could never push back fierce enough, and the challenges could never get too hard for me to conquer. I always thought that the bigger hurdles would come later in my life—until this past year.
It’s just the hand I was dealt, I always try and tell myself. It’s the hand I was dealt in the card game of life; and I’ve already used up all of my discards by having knee surgery, but the one way around discarding, is to make the best of your three-card run and a pair. It’s not the greatest of hands, but it’s the way you look at it that counts. To me, the three-card run are the three things that I love to do in life: play sports, read, and write; and my pair is having the double-whammy of amazing and supportive friends and family. So no matter which way you look at it, I’ve been dealt the best hand that I could be dealt. Yeah sure, someone else may have a higher three-card run than me, but maybe their double isn’t as strong, and for me, my double is what keeps me going strong.
The constant, rhythmic pulsing on the inside of my knee, of that which matches my heart, tells me to stop and slow down before I hurt myself—again, but my heart, like always, triumphs over my head because maybe, that one wrong step could the game away from me forever. The paper-thin idea that the smallest of movements could take the game away from me for the rest of my life is always somewhere in my head no matter what I’m doing. The game is my life. I live, breathe, sleep for basketball—for sports really. I think about the obstacles that I’ve already faced and know that the worst is behind me. I believe that the worst is behind me, and I feel like if I believe it, then it’s true.
I pull up for another shot as I try to keep myself warm. The rain is moving as steadily as I am; it falls onto my covered skin and soaks me. As I come down from another shot made, my foot falls from underneath me, but luckily, I catch myself. That was close, I think to myself as I repeat the process. Up and down. Bend the knees, pull up, keep your form, and shoot. Up and down. I keep going because I know that if I stop, then I’ll get cold and my knee will freeze up on me. Up and down. Up and down. I stop and close my eyes to catch my breath and it all came back to me.
I remember that day like the veins on the back of my hand, but believe me, I really don’t want to. Every time I close my eyes, I don’t see the blackness that most people see; I see that day. I see the movie Forrest Gump that I know I won't ever be able to watch again. I see the recovery room where I was so doped up on anesthetics and morphine that I could hardly get out what I wanted to say. It was a day that maybe in ten years I’ll look back on it and laugh, but maybe, just maybe, it’ll also be the day that made me stronger for the rest of my life.
I opened my eyes that day to a painful place where I thought I’d never touch a court again, but that’s what motivated me. As Helen Keller once said, "Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost." (14 Helen Keller Quotes to Celebrate Her Birthday. Article Dashboard. October 9, 2007.
My finish line is to finally touch the court again, to finally shoot the ball and be able to jump off of both feet, to finally feel that same love that I had before my surgery. I heard a quote by Ayn Rand that caught my immediate attention on one of my favorite television shows: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swaps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it's yours." (Quotes from my Favorite Television Shows. Sink or Swim? October 9, 2007.
The leather, brown (I have no idea why most people call it orange) basketball left my hands as I leapt off the ground like a tiger pouncing on its prey. We were down by two with only seconds left of the fourth quarter. The wide-eyed girl with the strange orange shoelaces and out of place pigtails apparently forgot to put on her brakes because as soon as the striking ball reached my fingertips and soared off towards the net, I came a-tumbling down. The referee’s whistle came into play just as the horn sounded off milliseconds later. I hit the ground with such a hard thud that I thought China had heard the echo of my notorious fall. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my teammates and my parents/coaches stand up in fear for the thought of me being hurt again. Just as I looked up to the net, time stood still for those few seconds as if my life depended on this one game-breaking shot.
But you see, my life didn’t depend on it at all. I wouldn’t die if I didn’t make that shot. I would probably shed a few tears, but in the end, it wouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, I would still have my family, my friends, and my dreams to have my back no matter what the outcome was of that shot was.
I blinked once as I stayed sitting on the cold, slick, and slightly dirty gym floor. I saw my shot sink in so dramatically, as if it was just trying to make a point to me. I stood up and screamed and yelled like the rest of my team. The game was now even-steven. It was all up to me. But you know, as I looked at my teammates standing beside me and those on the bench, I knew that without them, I wouldn’t be standing where I was that day. Without one person on that team, we wouldn’t be the same weird, quirky, highly hyper team that made us whole. I made the next two nail-biting free throws and won the game for my team. But that shot taught me something; it taught me that no matter what happens in the end, whether I make it over these last few hurdles or not, it’ll be the journey that I’ve had along the way. For me, it’ll always be the peanut butter and bananas that make all the difference.
I saw these six words on a wall once that were meant to inspire people to their fullest potentials. They caught my attention almost immediately and I couldn’t take my eyes off of them for the rest of the day. And now everyday as I look at them, they remind me of what I’ve been through and what I can do with the obstacles that I’ve faced and the ones yet to come. Goals. Attitude. Challenges. Opportunity. Persistence. Peace. Without these six breathtaking, but yet different values of our everyday lives, there wouldn’t be poetry to write or love.
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