If you’ve been following me on Twitter and Facebook recently, you know that I had a nasty ski accident out here in Vail, Colorado. I was here for ski training with my race team from Stratton Vermont for 4 full days of skiing and training with some of the best skiers in the world. Skiers were here from all the Olympic teams spanning from the USA to Austria and Canada. I had a day where I got to see some of my heroes on the slopes – Ted Ligety, Bode Miller and even Lindsey Vonn.
Unfortunately, I had a freak ski accident and ended up damaging my knees (both of them) pretty bad. I thought it wasn’t too bad – but as the pain got worse, I got it checked out with X-rays and an MRI along with multiple trips to the Vail Medical Center and their doctors and specialists. It turns out that I completely tore both of my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus (knee ligament) as well as chipped my bone on my outer left knee. I will end up needing reconstructive surgery on both knees and have several months of recovery with physical therapy and many weeks on crutches. No skiing or physical activity for 6-8 months and possibly back for tennis next summer and competitive skiing next winter.
You have to understand – skiing to me is like nothing else. Beyond my wife and kids – it’s one of the few things that inspire me and motivate me more than anything else. Needless to say, I was quite saddened and devastated with what happened.
During these last few days (in particular from the time of my accident to my final diagnosis from one of the best sports medicine doctors on knee injuries) I learned a lot about the people around me – and myself. Below is what I discovered – and I share it with you so can learn from my perspective – as I’m sure we all have trying times like this where the outlook does not look good.
Think positive. During the two days when I didn’t know exactly what the diagnosis was, I stayed positive. And, I mean ultra positive. Talking to my wife Fabienne and others – I consistently thought about the good that will happen – focusing on the result that I most wanted (full recovery and no long term impact.) Even though I now need surgery and will not ski for the better part of the year – being in a place of positive expectation and having an optimistic attitude helped me with going through this experience and not feeling down or negative about it – and ending up not having a worse situation than I am in now.
Bigger purpose. This experience led me to believe there is a reason behind this accident – and a bigger reason I am choosing to have this experience and what it means for me in my long term purpose here on Earth. Yes, it may sound kooky – but I believe it. It’s all about rising to the challenge and stepping up to what this experience is going to lead me to next.
Focus. Now that I have this time to reflect – I can focus clearly on what really matters. Yes, I will still watch the ski videos and obsess over skiing – but this experience leads me to believe that there is a time for being present NOW – and focusing on what really matters most. My family (my wife and kids) and the close friends I have with me. This is by no means a life altering accident – but it’s in these times of challenge that we should all find it important to reflect and contemplate on what matters most.
Gratitude. I am certain that being in a place of gratitude during this time – if not all the time – is critical for feeling positive and upbeat about what is going on around you. I had a long conversation with my wife Fabienne where I listed everything I was grateful for – in this moment. My wife, my kids, my friends, my work, my surroundings, my support at home, etc. I didn’t stop with just the obvious – I drilled down to being grateful for the glass of wine I had that night. Gratitude works wonders – if you trust and state what you’re grateful for.
Humor. I definitely needed to laugh along the way. From the funny picture about the beef jerky I posted to laughing with my ski buddies here about my accident and their own experiences with ski injuries – laughing and making light of a situation can help you feel even more positive and optimistic.
Long term perspective. Although I was really down and upset about what happened – I had to put things into a longer term perspective. Will I ever ski again? Yes. Will my knees recover 100%? Yes. Can I walk (with crutches) and be present with my wife and kids? Yes. For a time I was pissed about not being able to ski this season. But, it’s only one year. I’ll be back next year – and every other year – for many years to come. Think of the joy that will bring me and those I am with.
Community. This is where it gets really inspiring. The comments and support and reaching out from so many – was so supportive and uplifting. The comments on Facebook alone were partly responsible for keeping me motivated and inspired. It felt so good to be recognized and loved in that way – something that social media and technology can do for us – unlike anywhere else. People from under the woodwork on Facebook reached out and offered words of support, recommendations, a place to stay and even a ride to the airport. For this – I thank you…
So, I do believe that everything happens for a reason – if you think about it in that way and allow yourself to believe it. If you go about your daily routine and never think about the subtle coincidences or big shifts that leave you wondering about WHY – remember this: It all happens for a reason.
Perhaps it’s time for YOU to step in and step up. Or, perhaps it’s simply time to slap on some skis and hit the mountain.
Until next time… Learn It, Love It, Live It!
p.s. As I wrote this I was listening to some reggae music and this track from Ziggy Marley came on. His words resonated with me and I wanted to share them with you. Again, everything happens for a reason…