Eyy it’s my rebirthday. October 6 is the happiest day of the year for me. The weather’s great, the spaghetti’s good, what an awesome day to be a-l-i-v-e. I even started it on a good note, up from the Hilton Head tennis tournament. That don’t matter much anyway, my hamster could have died yesterday and I’d still be up today.
Whew, what a rough year though. I did a heck of a job hiding it, but year three was definitely the hardest year of my life, let alone post injury. Maybe it’s because I started it off recently coming to terms with the fact I’m about to spend the rest of my life in a chair and won’t ever move my legs again, maybe it’s because nobody likes you when you’re 23, or maybe I’m just salty because I didn’t do too hot on my accounting exam last week.. but it actually really was.
On a much less playful note, I’ve been prettty down this past year. It was bullshit to be honest – straight draining me mentally and emotionally. And physically because I been slacking in the weight room. It wasn’t all bad, it was more like a rollercoaster ride, just not as fun. I’d be counting the days down until I’m rich and famous one week, then feel the lowest I’ve ever felt the next.
Smoke all that though. I’m on a long ride up now. I’m just chillin’ at the front getting cranked up the tallest coaster on Earth – with my Beats on because that noise would drive me nuts. I’ve taken a lot of learning points from those down days…
First and foremost, I’ve been reminded by hearing about and seeing the effects of other tragedies concerning others that were less fortunate than me… that was a mouthful and probably could have been said much simpler, but I got a busy day and I’m typing this inbetween classes… Others that are no longer with us would smack me so hard if I was being a sour puss, which I have been a lot of this past year, big time.
Also, I found out I can still have fun and do exciting things. I got to live a lot this past year – a lot more so than the second year post injury, and a lot a lot more so than the first. I found a snowboarding replacement in monosking, which I’ll for sure be doing some of this winter, as well as every future winter that I’m fortunate enough to be here. And most of all, I found a gymnastics replacement in tennis that I’m very, very stoked about. I also found out that kayaking is pretty rad. The next thing on my radar that I plan on getting into is scuba diving. I’m really excited for some future trips to the Caribbean to swim with sea turtles and horses, and other life found only in the sea. When the time is fitting in year four, I’ll get myself scuba certified and probably an oversized frame for the certificate to obnoxiously and inconveniently cover my nightstand.
Another thing that was bringing me down was my appearance and boundaries caused by the chair. Sitting at 4 ft. tall being constantly looked down on has sparked a lot of insecurities. All I could focus on were my imperfections and the downsides of my chair. The first two years I loved my chair; it was like constantly riding a little bumper car while everyone else had to walk. Instead of having that mentality, I could only think about the limitations that stairs brought me. I despise stairs. Stairs can suck my left and right nuts both raw. The rawness wouldn’t even bother me because I can’t feel them.
The final thing I learned was that down times WILL come. They’re inevitable, but it’s okay because everyone deals with them on occasion. I’m not alone.
Back to tennis for a bit. Tennis doesn’t only bring the excitement in playing tennis. Weekends spent at a tennis tournament are constant reminders of not being alone. Players surround themselves with people from all over the world that are in the same boat, and it’s a wonderful thing. Not everyone there has spinal cord injuries, but most find themselves in a wheelchair every day, and ALL constantly deal with some type of disability. Everyone is also in the same boat mentally. They prioritize athleticism by taking three/four day weekends out of their lives to go play tennis tournaments. They are open about their down thoughts, and help each other surpass them. They enjoy life, and want you to as well.
Quick update on tennis: I played at the U.S. Open in St. Louis, which was incredible because I saw the top two players in the world, who made me want to get into tennis in the first place; Shingo (JPN) and Houdet (FRN). I did not play very well in St. Louis. The only match I won was a singles consolation match, but I had the best experience so far at a tournament. I also played at Hilton Head last weekend. I only played one singles and one doubles match and I lost them both. The singles match was very close; I had match point twice, but it wasn’t my day. I’m finished with tournaments for the season. It was a great first season. I’m glad I moved up to the B division so soon. I learned a ton, and now I’m back to Schroeder for some more strokes.
For now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of this day! Thanks for reading. Year four is gonna be sick. I’m sure of it.
Thanks for sharing, Hunter. Thank you for your brutal honesty–we need more of it in this world today. Too many people pretend….. You stand ten feet tall in my eyes, young man! Year three may have been rough for you, but year three is when I met you so it was a good year for me! Its so cool to see you working hard–at your schooling and tennis. Yay, there are going to be ups and downs, no doubt. That’s life. But never lose sight of the value and importance your life has and always will have. Stay strong, Hunter!