The Injured Minority

Six weeks ago I tore up ligaments in my knee in a failed attempt at learning snowboarding. It took only a moment to wreck the knee, and many weeks later, I am still limping around wondering if it will ever return to normal. There is a lesson in this somewhere that I am avoiding. Maybe it is as simple as the idea that we should stick to what we are good at, and not believe we are good at things we clearly are not cut out for. But it may just be a lesson too hard for someone like me to learn.

But I am wandering off my main point, which is that when you have an ailment, or an affliction, you are drawn to others with the same. Almost every fifth student has come up to me and related his/her own tale of woe on the ski slopes. The first two doctors that treated me in the emergency room both cheerfully informed me of their ski injuries and assured me that like them, I would be back on a snowboard in a couple of weeks. Six weeks later, I am quite sure that retirement from the slopes is the only sane option for me.

Now, when I walk the streets, dragging the bad foot behind the better one, I sometimes encounter another limping person coming from the opposite direction. Our eyes meet, and sometime we both smile, in the same instant commisserating with each other, and also feeling truly connected. We are for that moment, kindred spirits, sharing the yoke of injury, being comforted not to be the only ones in a bad predicament. Misery loves company, for sure.

Its like being in the minority, and when that happens, people tend to feel close to others in the minority. I am now part of the ski injury club, and wear my wounds and limping gait like a badge of honor, proclaiming to all, especially my fellow injured, my membership of pain.

Its actually quite nice, this belonging to the minority. Its a fake cloak, comforting nevertheless! Its the same with the sportsbikers in the Bay area. We have an unwritten code that we wave to each other when passing. When I first started riding I noticed very quickly that everyone waved, and I quickly got with the program too. Its just nice, I felt welcomed, even if it were anonymously. Of course, the Harley guys never wave, they seem to live by some other grim code of angst and pent up anger. The minority of sportbikers is wonderful.

Its hard to feel special, unless one is part of a small group. So what am I going to do when my knee heals and I am kicked out of the damaged-knee-ligament sect? Who knows? I will have to find another minority to latch onto.


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