His words have replayed in my mind many times since they were delivered, gently and following a warm hug, this morning: “You’re a powerful woman, Laurel, and you need to reflect carefully on where you choose to put your focus.”
I find myself in tears again at the feeling of loss evoked each time I face another person – in each case a medical practitioner or healer who I have turned to for treatment and advice – telling me that the cost to my body of playing my beloved sport of Canoe Polo is just too high. With instability due to hypermobility, an autonomic nervous system stuck in ‘flight’ mode resulting in an exhausted adrenal system, and numerous other weak points and injuries, I am just too vulnerable.
Why does the thought of giving up Canoe Polo evoke such deep sorrow? It’s been far more to me than just a sport. Yes, it’s fun, it’s a challenge, and it’s an adrenaline-packed high – but it’s also an international community of life-long friends, a carrier of countless joyful memories, and has taken me to many wonderful places – Great Britain, Ireland,
and Germany to name but a few. It led us to move continents for nearly eight years, to spend all our saving year after year, and it has shaped our lives to a remarkable extent.
I still find a deep resistance within myself, even fourteen months after the severity of the risk of playing first really sunk in, and years after first being told by one, and then another, and then yet another practitioner that Canoe Polo was not something my body was ever going to be suited to play.
The lesson life keeps bringing to me, over and over again, in so many guises: let go; let go. Don’t grasp onto things: let go, and forge new paths. Let go, and find new ways of interacting, new joys, new relationships; create fresh spaces. There are new sports to engage with, even if I can’t begin to muster anything like the same joyful enthusiasm for them yet, and I can continue to be involved with Canoe Polo through administration, organisation and coaching – no longer for my own benefit, but increasingly for the sake of others.
As I feel the tightness and pain in my chest contract again, while I am deeply grateful for all I’ve experienced I can’t quite connect with the joy of possibility yet – tonight, I am still mourning; and, as always, the sensation of loss evokes many shadows and ghosts.