Friday, September 23, 2011

Playing Hurt

I think middle fingers are symbols of strength and rebellion.  Mine have been through quite a bit, and seem to be a reflection of my own life, in a way.

When I was seven I fractured one of my middle fingers playing baseball.  I played catcher one game, but used a regular glove instead of a catcher's mit.  Despite that injury early on my love for baseball continued and I wound up being a pretty good player (though stayed away from being a catcher).

A few years later when I was 11 my coach over-threw the first baseman during base running drills at practice and hit me in the face.  I wound up with my eye swollen shut and seven stitches in my eyebrow, but I only missed one game.

When I was 13 I ripped open my other middle finger during basketball practice by touching the top of the doorway and getting it caught on the "x" in an exit sign.  I got nine stitches, but still played as soon as I got my stitches out.

At 15 I got hit in the face with a baseball again before a game.  This time I didn't need stitches, but I broke my nose, which bled slowly for over a week and had two black eyes, and still played in that game.  Every day now I am reminded of that incident when I look in the mirror and see my crooked nose.

Then I was out of school and didn't play sports for a while, but the injuries took different forms.   I suffered through a self-destructive phase but came out on the other end using my experiences to help others.

However, it wasn't the end of the physical injuries either.  A few years ago I tried to catch a falling glass (I know, not smart), and I cut my middle finger deeply and my ring finger as well.  I got 17 more stitches between the two.  I wound up having some nerve damage, but figured out how to keep typing (as a content writer and web publisher I spent most of my time on a keyboard) and got through a very difficult financial time.

Now I'm dealing with other forms of hurt, and once again trying to play through it.  What other choice is there, really, other than deciding that you will overcome the adversity and work to achieve your goals.  I have to remind myself that in each and every case I put myself in the position to get hurt to cause it directly or indirectly, but I don't regret being there or doing what I was doing at any of the times, despite the pain I had to deal with.

Two days ago I was cleaning out my car before going on a long drive and reached under the seat and took a layer of skin off the back of the same middle finger I had already gotten stitches in twice.  I looked and had to laugh to myself when I saw how beat up that finger is in its scarred and disfigured state, but like the symbolism of the middle finger, I'm pressing on regardless of the obstacles because it's the right thing to do.

In the past week I've had a chance to have conversations with two very cool people who I have only briefly known, both of whom are battling their own scars and injuries.  I hope I was able to enhance their lives as much as I feel enriched by being able to share such deep conversations with relative strangers.

Both of these people also watched my new film, Curing Addiction, after my conversations with them, and I hope it was able to have an additional positive impact on their lives.  So far the feedback from it has been great, and its ability to help people is a huge validation for having persisted despite the personal barriers I had to overcome in the last few months to even get it completed.

And so, once again I look at my middle finger and invite others to raise theirs as well and say a big "f___ you" to the challenges you have to face while going down your own path.

Sometimes you just gotta play hurt.

I encourage others to try and stay true to their own ideals and be honest with themselves as they work through the adversity, as I try to do the same.

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