On a chair in my computer room is a very worn, somewhat grimy, pink pig who belches when you squeeze him. Even though he’s quite old, his belch is as loud as the day I first got him. He is my Agony of Defeat Pig.
I’ve written before about how I destroyed my knee while fencing in the US National Championships. It was my first, and last Nationals. I went from spending most of my day thinking about my sport (all of the exercises and Eat to Win diets and self hypnosis and positive visual imagery and training and exercises and reading books on fencing and competing every weekend) to having been roughly thrust out of that world into an ex-competitors world with nothing to do but spectate.
(Could I have had knee surgery? Yes, there was surgery available – even though prior to keyhole surgery you were left with huge s-shaped scars around your knee. But surgery like that isn’t available in the US to young single mothers with no health insurance and not much money, and so I just lived with it.)
Anyway, Piggy was a gift from the airport gift shop after the competition. Picture a JFK airport bar, me sobbing into a large scotch, my husband (who was also my coach) making the pig burp to try to make me smile. When I see him, I am back in that bar with my leg cradled on a chair, crying.
Between one second and the next, your life and everything you want from it can change. You can lose your dreams and have to begin searching for new ones. Sometimes, however, you get a second chance.
I’ve finally gotten my referral to an orthopedic knee specialist, and today am going to see if the knee can be repaired. (Hurrah for the UK and the NHS!) I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Do I still have dreams of becoming a US National Sabre Champion? Obviously not. But so many things are opening up to me again.
Piggy will always have a place with me, of course. Sometimes our failures, more than our successes, make us who we are.