Student Athlete Column: The Snow Melts

Student Athlete Column: The Snow Melts

This article is going to start really heavy and will end with action.

I have been through some really dark times. Growing up in a single-parent household, money was scarce, winters were cold and emotions were bleak.

From a young age, I learned about the hardships of the world. I knew what the word “depression” was at seven years old, lost a childhood best friend to suicide and had been to more funerals than I could count.

Today, I live every day in a global pandemic, have absolutely no clue how I will make ends meet once I graduate and struggle with the demons of my past.

Okay, now that the dark, gloomy and moody stage is set, I’d like to paint a picture for you, dear reader. It is dusk on a cripplingly cold day, wind whistles with piercing pain, the world is quiet with the occasional feet crunching in inches of snow.

Street lights glow with the wisdom of nascent nightfall; some wild beasts roam around with only athletic shorts covering their legs and trees are bare.

Are you sad yet? No

Maybe these familiar sights and foreign-ish stories bring up negative emotions in you, making the world seem like a half-empty glass. Maybe you are reminded of the bitter reality that awaits you outside the four walls of your home. Maybe, just maybe, you can relate to the very personal things I have thrown out onto a Google Doc, and you are wondering how this melancholy article will end in action.

It does, yet we will not leave the miserable winterlandschaft I have laid out so far to get there. 

In the midst of these dreary winter evenings and wretched memories, there is so much beauty. Pain, trauma and sadness are the darkest emotions and colors in the painting of my life. They melt together in a confusing mixture with the happiest, brightest, most uplifting emotions in the world to form never-before-seen, relatable, laughable, cryable, joyful, sad, magnificent stories and lessons.

On this woeful evening, I write to you after a terrible, no-good, awful softball practice where I did quite literally every drill I was bad at. I bobbled balls, mis-hit pitches and felt physically exhausted. But I had a blast.

I laughed with teammates, talked with coaches and watched in awe at the majestic movement of the team. As a senior, I am reminded every day of the ticking clock that counts down the days until I hang up my cleats  forever (until I find myself sucked into a beer league). 

Now we’re getting to the action part.

We all have darkness inside and around us. We all are filled with swirling tempests, unbelievable depths of doubt, treacherous tsunamis of pain, and ridiculous riptides of rage wrapped up in our very human bodies. 15 million blood cells are destroyed in that body every second. Your left lung was made smaller than your right just so you have room for your heart. Your skin stretches 25 feet. You are a physical masterpiece that is brimming with inexplicable, yet quite understandable, emotions and desires that seem to contradict each other, but that’s the point. 

All of the cliches, (“darkness can’t exist without light,” etc.) exist for a reason. These adages add up to create that red thread of humanity that stretches throughout all of us. 

I hope you’re still with me.

What I am trying to say is that the snow melts. Days become warmer, the sun shines a little bit brighter, or, if that seems like too many months away and you can’t escape the snow, make a masterpiece of it. Build a snowman. Sled with a friend. Pack a snowball with any negative feelings you might have and throw it as hard as you can in the distance. Have fun with life. 

That is the action I mentioned in the first sentence. 

All of the heaviness, all of the pain and all of the frigid feelings that can’t seem to melt away will. How do I know? Why should you listen to me? I live it every day. 365 days a year, I remind myself of the beauty and amazing joy I have been fortunate enough to experience in my life. I see it everywhere now. At a difficult softball practice, on a cold day, when I find myself in a whirlpool of metaphysical doubt, when nothing seems to be going right with my friends and family and any other problem that might arise. 

If you are reading this, you are alive. And you can read. You’re already winning. To go a step further, you have some sort of technology that allows you to access knowledge, or you are clever enough to pick up a hard copy of this newspaper in a building on a college campus. You’re really winning. Times may be tough, winter may be long and you may be dealing with things you don’t think anyone else can understand. But, from me to you, from human to human, keep going. Take action that ignites a fire within you, warm enough to melt any snow that might be keeping you down. Do something everyday that reminds you how miraculous this life is. Keep going, the snow melts.