I blinked. Once, then twice. Each moment brought the sharpening of my dulled senses. The voices were becoming louder now, but they were muffled; unintelligible. My inner ear soon did its job and informed me I was upside down. Sure enough, my feet were four feet above my head, resting on the embankment. The rest of my body lay casually in the ditch below. Soon, the commandments were audibly clear: "Don't move!" "What hurts?" "Careful with his neck!" I was being fussed over by a group now, and more were arriving every second. "How does my bike look?" popped off my lips before I realized the insignificance of such a question. It was ignored.
Still motionless, fear began coursing through me. What could I move? Did anything hurt? Could I actually feelmy limbs? The simplest act of moving my leg took all of my focus. Soon, fingers curled, and muscles fired. "Ok good, I'm not paralyzed," I thought.
My attempt to sit up was met with cries of "WOAH!" by the group. They all stood there now, bikes scattered about, staring down at me, the guy in the ditch. Its not every day when someone on your ride goes down hard.
The pain was becoming real now, it was serious. And it was a new pain, unique from the 10 other bones I had broken in the past. I finally made it upright after being untangled from the contorted position I had landed in. That's when I knew the hospital was in order. I couldn't move my right arm. No amount of pain tolerance would do it. I simply could not move it.
The circumstances had been created by a mistake, a tactical error, exacerbated by my inexperience riding a bike. That was it. One little miscalculation left me with a broken humerus, scapula and fighting extensive muscle damage for months. Even now, some 25,000 miles later, I am nothing but grateful for that day.
Experiences shape the very fabric of who we are, and what we are becoming. Forgetting them, blocking things out, ignoring past events (however terrible they were) does us a tremendous disservice. We will never master this life and learn everything there is to grasp. Trying to avoid these life shaping trials is shortsighted, but not learning from those difficulties is far worse. It's foolishness at its best.
It was terrifying getting back on a bike. My mind raced with the possibilities of what could happen. It truly paralyzed me. But, years later, I've turned that experience into knowledge. I ride safer, enjoy it more fully, and am not in any way fearful of crashing again. I'm sincerely glad it happened; it has deepened my appreciation for many things. Although, that isn't given. We don't all look back on the storms of life and smile. Some challenges don't seem worth remembering. Tragedy. Death. Loss. They can seem pointless, things only meant to crush us.
That's why great reflection is required. Unyielding, transparent, intentional reflection. Only from this inward look, this remembrance, can we see the block of stone we were, next to the chiseled sculpture we have become. If we forget from where we came, we cannot fully enjoy what we've become.