My Sprained Ankle Turned Out to Be a Gift
Dear Sprained Ankle,
What in God's name were you thinking, dropping in on me at the age of 16, humiliating me beyond humiliation?
There I was, a 5'2", round, athletically challenged girl from Kansas. For months, I had trained for Outward Bound, the famously life-altering expedition where I would scale the Colorado Rockies, rappel down sheer-faced cliffs, and brave three days solo in the wilderness. After 28 days, I would rise like a phoenix: sun-kissed, six-packed, armed with stories to impress for a lifetime. It was my destiny.
The first day, I stood in a circle with my fellow adventurers. Then the whistle blew for our three-mile run to base camp. Ten seconds later, I jumped onto a rock and—snap. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it—until the patrol leader held my foot in his hand. “There’s no way you can do this course,” he said, looking up at me with dark wonder. “Wow. This is a first.” Six hours later, I was staring out an airplane window in a stupor of shame, headed home to Prairie Village.
What looks like misery in the moment just may be part of life’s larger, wondrous plan.
My parents consoled me as I healed, then shipped me off several weeks later to a month long teen travel program in Israel. It was me and 40 teenagers from Long Island. Them: a tornado of Farrah Fawcett blow-outs, leg warmers, and massive suitcases containing several clothing changes per day. Me: a lone Midwestern hayseed in track shorts, clutching my puny duffel bag.
I was paired with golden-haired Jessie, a bronzed queen bee whose breezy laugh and hot-pink bikini made me feel like a loaf of Wonder bread. But as the days passed, Jessie’s velvet heart dissolved my insecurities. Together, we sneaked into fields to pick pears, bargained our way through noisy city markets, and rode the glittering waves of the Mediterranean Sea.
That summer turned out to be one of the best of my life. The next year, Jessie became my college roommate, then my New York City BFF. After one long work day, she cajoled me into margaritas at a Greenwich Village dive bar. That night, I met my future husband, with whom I eventually had two treasured children. Three decades later, Jessie and I remain one another’s touchstones.
And so, sprained ankle, I need to express my gratitude. Thank you for leading me to everything that defines meaning and magic in my life today. And thank you for teaching me, on that horrible, humiliating day, one whopper of an eventual lesson: that life is not linear, that two plus two so rarely equals four, and that what looks like misery in the moment just may be part of life’s larger, wondrous plan.
Click here for original story in Oprahmag.com