As Stupid Does

Two things I think and write about too much are weather and injuries. In past seasons I’ve even had readers (primarily at Red Kite Prayer) ask me to stop rattling on and on about cold, ice and snow. That’s fair enough. My weather isn’t your weather, and no one likes a whiner. Injuries, on the other hand, almost always get a sympathetic reading.

Everybody hurts sometimes, I’ve heard.

And I know I wrote on Friday about accepting injury as just a minor detour from the route, but that doesn’t prevent me from getting irritated with myself and my broken body. Some say there’s a line between brave and stupid, discretion and valor, and while I know that, I’ll tell you in all sincerity that I don’t know which side of that line I live on.

I suspect I’m stupid and/or constitutionally incapable of making good choices sometimes. It begins to feel like I’ll never be fully healthy again and never be able to make real, ambitious, long-term plans.

Just when I thought I was moving past my broken collarbone, my shoulder started to seize up and put me back in physical therapy, so I was using my left arm for most things, and then I dislocated a rib doing yard work (tree pruning), because my right arm was useless and I refused to accept that I just couldn’t do the work I wanted to do.

So I can’t ride a bike, because my shoulder is a nest of angry hornets, and now I can’t even run, because it feels like someone put a packing staple in my chest. I tried to run through that pain on Saturday and got rewarded with a handful of ibuprofen with lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day.

The thing is, endurance sports encourage us to blur the line between smart and stupid. We sublimate pain as a matter of course.

This happens all the time. We are running along and I roll my ankle and M says, “You ok?” And I say, “Keep running. If you talk about it, it turns into a thing.”

Admittedly, not everyone collects injuries like I do, so that doctors read your chart like NASCAR fans watching just the crashes on highlight reel.

Am I stupid because I run, or do I run because I’m stupid? And does it even matter, because I am who I am, and injuries are just a part of that, as if by dislocating this rib, I’m only expressing myself in a style uniquely my own? And if one day my skeleton is unearthed by some future geo-anthropologist, I will just present the sort of puzzle that breaks dissertations and belies the fact I am a denizen of what is probably doomed to be known as the digital age.

They’ll have no idea I was an outlier, an idiot among the better informed.