Starting Fresh

Time to start over. This past week I made the decision to leave Oklahoma State University and seek out a transfer to another school. Any of you who have read this blog for any length of time at all have seen a rather dark snapshot into my life over the last two years, and so you know that this decision is not one made lightly. Through a time of a lot of prayer, contemplation, and evaluation of options, I came to this point. I needed to make a change.

It all hit me as I was walking to class one morning. I asked myself, could I really do this for another three years? The answer was a resounding “no.” I have lost much of myself here, and I cannot continue to accept that loss without making an effort to win it back.

So here I am. Diving back into the unknown once again, hoping and praying for a place where I belong. And I couldn’t be more excited!!!

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Work In Progress…

Hey everyone.

I’ve taken some time away these last couple weeks to think, pray, and figure things out in my life. All I have to say right now is stay tuned, because big things are coming (good things!).

Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt

I took one step on October 1st and knew that this time, it felt different. What was once a lingering sliver of pain, taunting me on every third or fourth stride, was now a stabbing, blistering dagger landing blow after blow on the lower-left side of my back. I tried pressing on, hoping in vain that the pain would work itself out as I ran further away from the sanctuary of the OSU team van.

I made it to about three miles on the day, at which point I was forced into a limp–I guess one could say I ran until I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something was very, very wrong with my body.

It was on the three-mile limp back to the van where I first contemplated the potential implications of the injury. I knew that it was serious (whatever it was) and that it would sideline me for a while (although I didn’t know exactly how long this would be). I also knew that the injury would mean that I would have to redshirt my freshman cross country season, a season in which I had proven myself as a top freshman and gained the approval and focus of the coaching staff. I could not really grasp anything beyond the physical nature of the injury at that point.

I made it back to the van, told my coaches about what had happened, and got a ride back to campus. That was the last time I spoke to the head coach for over six months. I began the rehabilitation process for what was diagnosed as a piriformis syndrome, essentially  a strain of the upper-gluteal piriformis muscle. The training room became my solitary sanctuary, my home–I spent three to four hours daily working through stretches, strengthening exercises, and drills designed to correct my injury with just my iPod to keep me company.

My fellow freshmen on the team naturally and gradually drifted further and further away–I was removed from their immediate social group at practice. They moved on with their friendship–a friendship that I was a part of at the beginning–without me. While all the friendships I had worked to build were falling apart, I was failing to progress in my rehabilitation. I couldn’t understand why–I spent so much time on it, and yet the 6-week deadline for the injury passed without me having made any meaningful progress toward recovery. The doctor told me that my career could be in jeopardy, all due to an injury that nobody could recognize. So the doctor told me to rest. Just rest, no rehab. I did this for another 6 weeks to no avail. I finally begged for an MRI, to which the doctor replied that I did not need one and it wouldn’t show anything he didn’t already know. So I paid out-of-pocket, got the MRI, and learned that I had a large break in my pelvic bone, a full crack near my sacroiliac joint.

My coaches became upset. All the rehabilitation that I had gone through was worth nothing, and the medical staff had wasted months of time with a misdiagnosis. I was ordered to rest some more. My life now began to really descend to a depth I hadn’t ever been before. I would wake up in my dorm room, alone. I would go to class alone. I would eat lunch alone. I would go back to my dorm alone. I would go to dinner alone. I would do homework alone. I would go to bed without having spoken to a single person. Repeat. It was a terrible existence, a nightmare in which I could only pray to God for help.  I had no friends and nobody near me who I could talk to. So time passed and not much changed until one day about mid-December.

 

*I am writing all this down to hopefully gain some personal closure.

 

 

Rebirth

Well, here I am–two years removed from the creation of this blog for an AP Lit assignment. It’s quite possible that nobody will ever see this, but that’s okay. I’m not really sure if I’m any better or worse than when I started writing here. I’m also not quite so sure if life itself has improved or worsened; maybe a little of both. So I just have to be honest with myself, and be honest with all of you. I need a place to confront and process everything positive and negative that happens in this thing called “life,” and I know that I have always been able to do just that on this page. So where do I begin?

Let’s start with something familiar…dare I say, a cookie?

I spoke about cookies in my graduation speech. About how we all were different kinds of cookies, equipped with the right ingredients to go out into the world and create beautiful and wonderful flavors to enrich the lives of those around us. I expected to be able to go out and show the world who I was, the man I had become with the help of SkyView Academy, and thrive. Looking back, I never had the ability to foresee the events that happened next in my life or what the effect of those events would be.

I expected to thrive.

I had no way of knowing that my life would nosedive after leaving those Home Depot walls, no way of knowing that I would live in relative isolation among thousands for the next year, no way of knowing how an injury would derail my entire freshman year, and no way of knowing how the social implications of that injury would erode the relationship between myself, my coach, and my teammates.

I was not prepared for not being prepared.

So here I am, a shell of myself two years removed from a place and time I wish lasted forever. I have lost a lot over these last couple years–socially, relationally, personally– and I am reviving this blog to detail to you the steps I am taking to get back to where I used to be–and maybe even be better than I used to be.

This is my struggle.

 

–Ben

 

When I Think of You

Hey everyone! I was just thinking about you all this week, as I realized it was finals and I remembered all the fun we had with finals only a few short months ago (it feels like forever but it really hasn’t been very long at all). Think about all the good times we had; the fun in calculus (aka class of death) and in all our other classes as we tried to cram the night before (some things never change). If we had fun with finals in high school, college finals should be a blast!!!!! As all of us prepare to take our final exams this week, I couldn’t help but remember the “building a castle brick by brick” pre-AP test speech. Think about how we are the bricks, now that we’ve laid the foundation, we are building the walls higher and higher into the upper echelons of learning. How exciting. In a few weeks when we’re all together, I’m sure we’ll laugh about how good/bad/ugly our finals were (or cry, depending on the class)! It’s been a rough semester, and I know many of us are ready for break. I know I am. But let’s get it this week.

 

Finals are a lot like store-bought gingerbread cookies around Christmastime. Nobody really likes the cookies themselves, but you are perpetually obligated to eat them.

 

Now let’s go eat.

Is Anyone Still Out There?

Hey everyone, I know these blogs have been long-dead now. But I’m here *sarcastically throws hands in the air celebrating* and I have a few things that I should probably reflect on. Well. Where do I begin?

  • Having your family around helps sometimes when your life isn’t going well
  • College is fun. College is hard. College is many things.
  • Being by yourself surrounded by 22,000 people is a strange feeling

I’d be lying if I said that my life is great right now. I’d be lying if I said that things were going the way I want them to right now. But it’s comforting to remember that I have friends like you.

Thanks For All The Memories

Hey everyone, I just wanted to say that I will continue updating this blog even after graduation–I will continue writing personal profiles on each of you and just generally put stuff on here. For now, though, I wanted to leave something for you, Mrs. Smith.

You have had an impact on my life that cannot be put into words. From me as a little freshman drawing Adam and Eve (make SURE to show that to every class you teach) to me analyzing Heart of Darkness for seven degrees of literary merit as a senior, you have guided me through life in a very meaningful way. You shoot down my terrible ideas (ahem, calendar) while encouraging my creative side (cookie day, cookie metaphors, etc.). You have been a huge support for me, especially as I have faced some tough times these last few months. It has meant so much to me. You were, are, and always will be my favorite lit teacher.

Like a dark chocolate-cherry cookie, you had the sweetness to make class the best part of my day but had the sour cherries to summon Darth Smith when we were off task (which happened a lot). A cookie with class, you exude excellence but don’t intimidate those who have never tried out anything beyond a dollar-store chocolate chip (akin to reading Twilight as “literature”). You even introduced me to poetry!!!

Your passion for your job is honestly unparalleled and I hope that I can bring the same excitement and effort to whatever I do someday.

Thanks for all the memories.

Silver Cords and Fish Ties

Joshua Goldwire. The name evokes images of many things for many students at SkyView Academy. For me, that name means that an adventure of epic proportions is about to ensue. A simple trip to Stein Mart with Josh could (and often does) quickly turn into a two-hour, earth-scouring endeavor for the ugliest necktie possible. A jaunt to the local Taco Bell could just as easily result in the cheapskate acquisition of four tacos through expert precision at a charity game (the game to win tacos was removed probably due to our actions and abuse). Even a trip to the mall could result in the risk-free purchase of hot pretzels at the hands of a certain McKinley Boots, to whom we both owe enormous sums of money.

In all honesty, though, Josh is one of those people in life who appreciates some of my crazy ideas, which drives many of my other friends insane (facepalm) but makes anything we do insanely fun. Whenever I need to forget about life’s problems and the dullness of the day-to-day, I just pop open a bag of Cheetos, and Josh will be there so we can get fish ties. That’s a real friend.

Ah…Now, Where Were We?

Sorry about the delay in blog posts–life got crazy and it was hard for me to focus. Now, where were we? Oh, yes. This is a good one.

For those who don’t know, I’ve been in a bit of what I’d call a slump lately. Life just hasn’t been all candy and butterflies, which I suppose is to be expected as part of the human experience. It’s been a time of change, which is also something that I should have seen coming (hindsight 20/20, right?) being that it is senior year. I have also witnessed a similar decline in spirits of several close friends, which does not help the matter.

However, there is someone I’d love to thank right now for just being there for me, simply to help out and be a good friend. That person is Lily Schwarz. Lily, you have been the best. On the days when I feel like I can’t make it another hour without breaking down in anger, frustration, and sadness, you are there offering to take me to Small Cakes and help me ease the pain through food (my favorite way!!!). Your helpfulness in the show was what saved my life and allowed me to not embarrass myself (or the extremely talented, hardworking cast) too much. You’ve been a true friend and one who always looks out for what is best for others before yourself, a quality that I admire beyond description. Honestly, you have put the maladies of life into the proper perspective; because of your help I have gained so much understanding of my blessings and become more thankful for what I have.

And that’s a major reason why I can wake up happy and ready to take on life’s challenges. Thanks for everything!

 

 

–Ben

Things Fall Apart

Bastille said it best:

“And the walls came tumbling down in the city that we loved/great clouds rolled over the hills bringing darkness from above/But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?”

Everything great must eventually come to an end. The Roman Empire, a place many considered to be the pinnacle of innovation, invention, and power of the classical world, met its demise as a shell of its former self, being burned and sacked by the Germanic peoples with little resistance. Michael Jordan, the basketball player considered by many as the greatest ever to play the game, a player who had won five NBA MVP awards and six NBA Championships, a legend–ended his career clanging shots off the rim for the lowly Washington Wizards, a has-been. Sometimes poor leadership sinks a great empire. Sometimes it’s the culture that grows apathetic. And other times it is a combination of the two.

Something great in my life is dying a little. It wasn’t as if one day I woke up and saw that everything had suddenly turned from order to chaos; no, it was (and is) a long, slow, and most painful decline. You always like to think that you can somehow salvage the wreckage and save everyone from the damage to their emotions, mental states, and happiness. But today I learned that I had come too late, that I couldn’t be the hero, that there would be no more walking off into the sunset as the credits rolled, the victor and savior of some far-off entity. And that hurts me more than just about anything else. I see the walls of a dynasty crumbling around me. I see my brothers and sisters struggling to make it just one more day. I see a leader who does what is best for him, not what is best for everyone. I see silence when there used to be joy. I don’t know why God wants this for me or for those involved, but I will trust it is for something greater.

Things fall apart.

And you know what? If I close my eyes, I think of the good times, the golden age, the time when everything was great and everyone got along. I think of the laughter and the camaraderie we shared. I think of our triumphs and victories. I think of our brotherhood, our eternal friendship. That’s what I think of. Even a crumbling wall echoes the greatness that once stood firm there on that ground. Thanks for all the memories. All I need to do is close my eyes.

Things fall apart.