The other day I was out with a friend getting caught up on the plot twists and new developments life had thrown our way. In these casual meetings, if I’m lucky, a spontaneous comment, offered without forethought or filter, will perfectly capture a yet unformed notion, and in this conversation I was lucky. In an attempt to capture my feelings of closure and accomplishment, nostalgia and reminiscence, I concluded, “I feel I’ve made some pretty good lemonade.”
Eight years ago, a truck delivered a Costco-sized crate of lemons to my door (more specifically, the driver’s side door of my car) at about 90 km/h. A couple lemons in this batch were ripe, readily identified and processed. The rest, however, had to sit and ripen for nearly a decade before anything palatable could be made of them. That’s simply the way it goes with these kinds of lemons – patience is rewarded with better lemonade and more of it. In the meantime, water had to be boiled with equal parts sugar.
The challenge of those early years post-accident was to find a balanced perspective, a way to frame the trauma accurately, while avoiding the counter-productive constructs of despair and victimization. Certain aspects at this time were sugar-coated, to be sure. Personal ignorance regarding the nature of my deficits, combined with the deliberate protective efforts of those around me, sprinkled just enough sugar in the hot water to keep things rolling along with the end product in mind, if not in sight. During this time I began testing samples from my literal bumper-crop of lemons.
I revisited the interests and hobbies I held pre-accident to see what remained. I tested my creative energy with digital art, woodwork, and photography projects and found my abilities here were much the same as before, albeit a little harder to access and sustain for prolonged periods. Nonetheless, here was a stash of ripe lemons ready for use. The most visible lemon, decreased athletic ability, also began to ripen with regular chiropractic treatments and rehabilitative workout programs at the gym, culminating in a successful and most enjoyable stint in a competitive recreational volleyball league. With enough of the lemons ripe and ready, then, and the blend of sugar and water just right, it was time to add a few personal touches and pour myself a glass.
Becoming a bicycle mechanic and adopting the cycling lifestyle has been the lime slice to my citric concoction. With absolutely no prior knowledge or experience, I embarked on this trek relying solely on the abilities and resources at my disposal post-accident. For that reason, the lemonade I’ve made so far is especially sweet. Similarly, though I haven’t seen Anya since April, and probably won’t until Christmas, the emotional and psychological growth that’s come about as a result is like a strawberry garnish, making for a most delicious and healthy lemonade.
I started out knowing only the basics of how to make lemonade. I didn’t know how it would turn out or how long it would take. All I knew was that I had a lot of lemons and that if I didn’t find something to do with them, it would be a terrible waste of lemons.