Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

Lisa Junkin
Chicago, Illinois USA



This is my housemate Mark's scar. Here is his story, as told by him:
My sophomore year in high school was amazing for me athletically... and this came at a point in my Life when athletics were a big part of how I defined myself. I was the only sophomore to make the varsity soccer team, and we came in 2nd in state that year. In addition, I was the leading scorer on the team, and second all-round in points (goals/assists) in the state. I fortunately was on the local news at least once a week, and my name was in the city paper probably three times a week. I was riding very high. I also made it to the regional squad for olympic development (soccer), and I thought I was some pretty slick shit. My head was huge, and my lack of modesty and humbleness wasn't helped by my peers in school. I was getting special dispensations from teachers and administrators... it was pretty ridiculous.
At the same time, I was the most steeped in Eastern Thought and Philosophy that I had ever been... mostly to cope with all the pressures that soccer, school, and all the rest was bringing on during that time. However, it was hard to fully internalize all of it during my local period of "fame."
Then, after state soccer, I was again the only sophomore to make the varsity basketball squad. This didn't help my head either... although I wasn't nearly as proficient in basketball as I was in soccer. I wasn't starting, but I was usually first or second off the bench, and was still a big part of a team that was doing well.
About halfway through the basketball season, we played BHS at home. I went to the A. Academy (private school, at the time ranked 4th in the nation scholastically), and BHS was the public school that I "should" have gone to had I gone to a public school (through districting...). BHS had about a 75% graduation rate, and was in danger of being shut down by the state, and they hated our private school (as almost every school in my city did...) We were favored by 25 points in that game; it should have been an easy victory.
About halfway through the second quarter, I was playing an abnormal amount (I was having a very good game at that point), when T.L. stole the ball and was heading down court for what seemed to be an uncontested lay-up. T. L. and I had known each other since we were about 8 years old - he and I were the strikers on my second organized soccer team.
As he went down court, I sprinted after him. At the last second, he slowed down for his lay-up and I jumped from behind him to block his shot off of the backboard. It was probably the most athletic thing I've ever done (or ever will do...). He put it up, and I jumped high enough (the rim was at about my right elbow) to block his shot off of the backboard and bounce nearly to center court. I had never jumped that high with that amount of speed before, and after hitting the backboard with my hand, I ended up parallel to the ground as I came down. I landed on the inside of my ankle where that little "ball" is, and broke it off my leg. Adrenalized, and thinking I had simply sprang my ankle, I got up and tried to run back down court. When I put my right foot down, my foot turned sideways... as there was no existing structural support there anymore. I fell. I got up again, and tried to run. I fell again. At that point, the trainer from our bench jumped onto the court and prevented me from trying to run anymore.
The next day, I was informed that I had not only broken the rounded part of my ankle away from my leg, but that I had also broken the dangling part into thirds. I would need four screws, and a four-inch rod inserted into my ankle if I hoped to ever walk properly again.
The surgery went well, and I was condemned to at least six months on crutches before I would be able to put weight on my right foot again. I was unable to shower normally for a month. I was bed-ridden for two weeks. I was at the most modest and humble point of my Life.
It was only then that all the Eastern Thought I had read and practiced started to make sense. Before, I wasn't completely able to internalize any of it. I had once possibly had the potential to become an Olympian, and I now could not even dress myself or open doors. That six months was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point, and remains as the most personally influential time of my Life.