When the worst things bring the best things
I always want to climb in the sun, and my friend Heather can’t. Or couldn’t. Heat on her snug rock-climbing shoes hurt the bunion on her foot. It was from when she was a teenager and a car ran over her foot.
In December, Heather had surgery ” a bone broken and a plate put in ” and was off her feet for six weeks. During that time, as she put it, “I was looking around for things to do.”
Always energetic and resourceful, she went to a meditation retreat in Paonia, but hadn’t realized it was a silent one. “I was ready to blow out of there by Saturday morning,” she told me later, but she’d paid for it, and for the lodging.
Returning, she decided to take an acting workshop because she saw it in the paper, and it was free.
Last column in this space, I wrote about making your own luck, how awareness of possibility, and faith, really affect outcomes. And since one thing affects the next and then all the others, ill fortune can, strangely, even lead to blessings.
Heather was encouraged to audition for the CMC production of The Vagina Monologues, and landed a plum, fiery role. On stage, she was talented and commanding. She is now being urged to try out for other roles in local theatre, a rich milieu. I just saw Heather out hiking with a friend from the play, and I see a whole new realm opening up for her.
Two years ago, an old friend who lives in Ouray and two of his friends were out backcountry skiing when he and one woman were swept away by an avalanche. Michael later sent me at Rock and Ice magazine, an article about the harrowing moments when the second woman had dug him out and they were searching for the first. They found a signal, and Michael began probing:
“I have to find her, now. Nine minutes? Ten? I’ve lost track. Probing: one, two, three. For what? A body? The probe penetrates its full 7’8″ length. Nothing. Sara. Sara. S … Probe again, and I think I feel something soft. Is it Sara? It has to be. There is no time for no.”
Hyperventilating, he dug up a ton of snow, to find her, blue; the other woman dove into the hole and revived her.
While editing the article, I asked Michael if he would drive to our office for a portrait and to climb, have dinner, stay over. Michael came, and at dinner met a coworker of mine. Two years later they married. The wonderful thing that happened to Michael ” Joanne, with her sweet demeanor ” would not have if not for something he never, ever would have chosen.
My own tale of chance happened the year I was born, when my father, then 28, arrived in Long Beach, California, to serve as physician on a destroyer. The way he later told me the story, another doctor asked if he would trade a shift, and he said sure.
That night a Danish sailor, on shore, passed out drunk on a railroad track. A train came. Pinned by the leg, he began thrashing so much that no one dared move the train.
My father was called, and crawled under the train. What he did next was actually easy, he later told me, because the amputation had mostly been done. He then dragged the man out.
The next day his picture was on the front page of the Los Angeles newspaper.
Dad’s commanding officer summoned him, and supposedly said, “You’ve made the Navy look very good today. What can we do for you?”
Dad said, “I would like to go to Annapolis, sir.”
Within six months, he was plucked from the destroyer in Hawaii, and, with his family, shipped off to Annapolis, Maryland. He once told me otherwise he probably would have set up a practice in Marin County. If not for a Danish sailor, I would probably not have grown up where I did, gone to the schools I did, done the same sports, or moved to Colorado. My husband and I would probably have children: other ones. Our two boys wouldn’t be here. That I cannot imagine.
Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at email@example.com.
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