The Fork in the Road

One year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed, awaiting surgery on my badly broken arm.  I had been riding my bike, training for a race, and had the unfortunate luck to have an encounter with a person who was a new biker and didn’t know the rules of the road.  Or was it “unfortunate luck”?

Like many people, I was stuck in a rut with my training.  I was going through the motions without enjoying the process.  Specifically, I had been training and racing in triathlons for many, many years and had accomplished a lot.  But, in recent years I had lost my passion and dedication that is required to do well, and was mainly just going through the motions.  It is what we do.  We stay the course, and live by default.  That is to say, that we have routines that we are comfortable with, and go through them without giving any thought as to whether or not we should be doing what we are doing.  Is it still a good thing to do?  Is it beneficial for us?  Does it make us happy?

Getting back to that horrible day, it was a normal Saturday morning.  The weather was overcast with a little rain.  I was biking on the same route that I always biked on, doing one of the workouts that I tended to do frequently.  One minute I am going up a long climb, and then the next, I am accelerating downhill.  In the blink of an eye, I was trying to avoid a biker who stopped right in front of me and turned into the flow of traffic.  Time slows down, and now I am crashing into her bike, and going over the handlebars.  In that instant, I am thinking that perhaps I can do a flip and shoulder roll on my back and avoid a serious problem (ahh, that good martial arts thinking at work).  Of course that was never a possibility, but I remember at the time thinking it was.  I crashed hard on my arm, and just that quickly, my life would change in a very big way.

Now, people have a LOT worse accidents than I had.  People get permanently damaged.  People are disfigured.  People die.  Luckily that wasn’t the case.  But, my life did change forever.  I ended up at the emergency room, where I was told that I would need reconstructive surgery on my elbow / arm, with plates and pins, etc.  It was extremely painful and I would have a very long rehab, and I kept thinking about what this would do to my future.  How exactly would I be affected in both the short term and the long term?

There are many points along the road of life which can change the direction you go in a meaningful way. These turning points (or forks) can sometimes be positive (like the day you get married), and sometimes can be negative (like the day you are informed you are being audited by the IRS).  BUT, sometimes, these points appear to be negative, but in reality, they can be a wakeup call, and perhaps turn out to be a very good thing.

That turned out to be the case in this particular circumstance.  Forward ahead a couple of months.  I was recovering from my injuries, going through a lot of physical therapy.  I was deciding on what I would do now.  Would I keep doing what I was doing before and get back to my training rut?  Or, would I take this opportunity to do something else.  Perhaps something new, or perhaps revisit something old.  I decided to go back to a previous passion of mine…martial arts!  Flash forward to the present.  A year has passed and my arm is pretty good.  It’s not perfect and will never be, but it is pretty good.  But, what is most important was that I took my opportunity…my fork in the road…and was able to move ahead doing something that does motivate and inspire me.  It brought back my passion and has given me a fresh insight as to what is important to me. I re-found what makes me happy!

So, the next time you are presented with a life challenge and come to that fork in the road, and are feeling that what happened to you was “unlucky”, maybe, just maybe, it could turn out to be one of the more lucky things to happen to you.

-Coach David-