Lindsey Vonn: Does Brave have to be Broken?

I read with some sadness, the article about Lindsey Vonn in the Washington Post, by Barry Svrluga.

I have nothing but respect for what Vonn has accomplished, no qualms with the inspiration she has provided to the next generation of skiers, and I raise no argument against her claim to be the GOAT. I have not met Lindsey, but I am saddened to see her decide to keep racing because her mind says she can when her body says she shouldn’t. (She won bronze today in her “last” race.)

I have met quite a number of Lindseys. Pushing through the pain. Applying mind over matter. Many surgeries later.

When we will stop calling broken, brave?

We are afraid of broken. Broken things are tossed and replaced, discarded for the new-and-improved, thrown in the trash. Broken things are worthless, our culture pines. Worth less.

May I?

There is a lot that is broken these days. Yes, when I say this, I get a lot of folks breathing down my neck. “I am not broken.., don’t call me that!” Can we make peace with broken, please? Broken is real life. Breaking is inevitable, unavoidable, forever coming down the pike. None of us goes full steam, full throttle, untouchable forever. Not Lindsey. Not anyone.

But we’ve got to stop bashing our heads like a battering ram into the same old rigid wall. We will break. Breakage is best avoided.

I’ve met so many thirty-somethings with a gimp or a limp or a joint that isn’t quite right. It is nothing to them in their thirties, but they are young. They don’t see that this is something they’ll live with into their forties, fifties and sixties. And when they do, it won’t feel like it does now and it won’t work like it does now. They’ll be sorry. But try to talk to a thirty-something about sorry. Or, my goodness, about broken. Oh, this is nothing: just a minor ache, a pain, an inconvenience.

Can we please make peace with broken? It’s not something we need to fear but it deserves our full attention and complete respect.

Why not stop short of broken, perhaps at bruised, sprained or hair-line fractured? When something is so significant that we have to re-chart our course, re-think our turns, or re-route our strategy, isn’t it time to retire? On top? Or, chart a new course?

There is NO shame in taking our competitive edge to the next calling. We can usher the skills we’ve gained to the next forum and apply ourselves to the new task with the same force, same dedication, same all-in that we did when we were on the top of our athletic game. When our physical was the way we could compete with the world.

Instead of bashing ourselves against immovable objects, why not open new doors. Our experience, celebrity and charisma will turn those knobs; those handles will respond to our touch, and going through, we will usher in a new way. Our followers, community, fans and admirers will still be with us.

When we have nothing left to prove, why not listen to our bodies as well as our minds? Perhaps our bodies speak the wiser truth: why not move on to something better?

Now that’s brave.


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