Obscured Identity (June Contest)
They never told me, but then again, even if they had, would it have mattered? From the outside, I knew a few things—games, excitement, friends, smiles, triumphs—and these were spellbinding, especially with the glamour of my role models, who certainly stretched my imagination. Although I was fully aware of the many who have failed ignominiously, my naivety led me to believe that I was a rarity.
So, detached from reality, I let my imagination run wild, envisioning goals that I have yet to score, plays that I have yet to conquer, and joys that I have yet to experience. However, like a dilating pupil, I was trying as best to see, to derive some assurance for action as I stood alone in a dark tunnel. Even though I was somewhat tempered by the fear of the unknown, I allowed my curiosity and fortitude to drive my legs forward. Unthinkingly, I ran, picking up my pace with every step as I heard the echoes of fans. Suddenly, the glimmer of light at the distance went completely dark.
They told me it was a concussion. And no sooner had the coach shared the news than he and my teammates faded into the distance. As days went by, I reflected on my dedication, from being the shining captain to the unsung hero. The truth of the old saying, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team,’” began to crumble. Had I not forged enduring bonds in and with my team? To my chagrin, I came to learn that there is indeed an “I” in injury, and that the only ones who stood by my side were my parents.
On my back, I came to learn that I was no different from a product, something used and disposed of at its expiration. Hidden truths were emerging before my eyes. The thrills and accolades are always followed by a bad injury, a bad game, or even a bad shift, all of which can immediately send us down to feelings of guilt, disgrace and worthlessness.
But I believe that the human spirit is inherently resilient. Although the path is obscured by our limited vision, we dare to take the step towards the unknown, because it is our nature to learn, adapt, and thrive.
Gradually, with open eyes, I saw again the light, but this time, it revealed the edges of the tunnel, rough and cracked. I stood up, patted the dust off my body, and proceed in my journey, hands held forward. “Good job!” the coach said, giving me a high five as I made my way to the dressing room. Just as I responded with a smile, it was replaced by a furrow of the brow.
“Who was I to deserve praise for having been benched in an entire game?” I thought. “Who is Henry Rhyu?”
Along with my identity being questioned, conventional wisdom showed its flaws. I was beginning to think critically, realizing that truth is elusive. By this time, my skin had grown rougher and my voice slightly deeper.