“Where Do We Go From Here?”

50 treatments completed at The Disc Institute of Pittsburgh, September – November 2022.

“Some things will always be completely out of our hands. It is one of the most helpless and hopeless feelings to experience. To know that we cannot make it better. We cannot change it, control it, or wave our magic wand and make it go away. It just isn’t within our grasp, nor was it meant to be. But, yet, we try, don’t we? To make ourselves god. To hang the stars and orchestrate their shimmer. Because the unknown is such a wretched place. But here, where we cannot touch the things that glide in and out of our existence, is where we must learn to find peace. Precisely here. In the midst of the timing we did not ask for. In the circumstances we did not approve of. And in the storm that, even with all our strength, we could not bring ourselves to silence.”


Life is full of chapters. Pages turn, new stories are written and, in my experience, each one tends to get better than the last. Honestly… I’m not sure if that’s actually the case, or if I just have a way of making the best of everything? I tend to look for the silver lining – some glimmer of hope and personal growth. Because it sure beats the alternative!

I’m currently entering the “next phase” of my spinal recovery plan, and it’s a little bit unnerving. My Doctors keep assuring me that everything is going according to plan – in many ways, even better than expected. They encourage me to be patient. They say I’m “almost there”. I guess I just thought I’d be further along by now? I thought I’d be running again.

On August 3rd, 2022 – just one day after my spinal surgery, I did a thing. I was so relieved, that the surgery was being called a “success”, despite my grossly underestimating the amount of pain I’d be in. I was high on life (and post-op pain killers) imagining the days when I’d be up and running again without any pain, and without any risk of further deteriorating my spine. I signed up for a race – actually, I signed up for two. And when I awoke the next morning, still groggy from the Percocet, I could hardly believe what I’d just done. The road stretched out before me was still so uncertain… and now I’d made it daunting.

Fast forward 3 & 1/2 months later, and now I see – my past self wasn’t just reminding me to embrace my future body’s ability to run, she was telling me to embrace it all. She’d been struggling with steadily increasing pain from her injuries and grief from losing a few people, places, activities, and basic physical abilities along the way. She’d been doing everything she could to avoid the overwhelming sadness she had over losing the one thing that had always enabled her to cope with it all. Something she never truly realized was all that special until it was gone, and she was begging me, the future me, to never make that same mistake again. She was urging me to love things purely because I love them – not just because they’d been taken away.

Registering for those races while inebriated was one of the purest intentions I have ever set for myself. A stark reminder of something we all know to be true but that we can (far too easily) choose to ignore: our time in these bodies and on this earth is finite. And our lives are often filled with blessings so plentiful that we forget to even notice them.

If you have the option and desire to do something, you must do it while you can. We tend to think we have all the time in the world, but we don’t. Opportunities don’t hang around forever and you never know when the day will come that they’ll pass you by for good and leave you thinking, “Damn, I should have done that while I had the chance.”

Some of the time we know our own luck, and gratitude floods through our veins as we make the most of it – but far too often we don’t even know what we have until we don’t have it anymore. What shame that is.

You don’t have to lose something in order for it to be important to you. You don’t have to have gone through something or without something in order to feel fortunate to have it.

Sometimes I get a little nervous when reminding people of this simple truth. I know it can feel aggressive to receive such a sharp reminder in the middle of a Tuesday, and it’s never nice to be called out for taking something special for granted – especially by a stranger who knows nothing about your life, situation, or level of thankfulness.

So from my past and present self, let me just say this to my future self – and you, if you so choose to listen:

Whatever it is that lingers there in the back of your mind, that thing you think about right before you fall asleep, the one that lights you up inside. Whatever it is you keep putting off for another day because you can’t be bothered with it right now. If you are capable of doing it, and you want to do it, then you need to do it – before it’s too late, before you get the chance to wonder what if?… before the parachute of your life collapses. Do it now. Because you can.

Even after all this time, I am still meeting people enamored by my story. I’ve actually grown tired of telling it because I think “what happened” to us is the least interesting thing about us. It’s what you do after that matters the most. When you’ve hit the ground hard, yet find the strength to stand back up. This is where I start to pay the most attention. This is where the story gets good. This is where we’re forced to not only ask ourselves but, also, to answer: “Where do we go from here?”


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