Skullduggery to Recovery: Chapter One

“You think we’ll ever be rich?”

My girlfriend was drying her hair, and I was thumbing through my notes on “The Diary of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda.

“Maybe…” I took a bite of lukewarm pizza. “But if not, at least we have access to the time-share so we can look rich.”

She grinned at my mouth-full-of-pizza sarcasm and turned back to the mirror. Chewing slowly, I stared down at my notes, turning the thought over in my head.

What did being rich even mean?

The next day, the usually subtle ride into town turned into an intense observation of the charred landscape. Mountains passed by, their faces etched with scars of the inferno that climbed them the previous year.

Trees were split diagonally down the middle, branches scattered across the forest floor like charred batons. Winter ice hung from rock faces running alongside the roads, reminding us that raging infernos don’t give a damn about the cold.

Courtesy of CNN. Notice the charred crown peaks.

I heard somewhere that acceptance is the way to salvation, and denial is hell.

But how do you accept something like losing your home? I could only hope those affected were somewhere happily rebuilding there lives.

Realizing the power of accepting hellish moments was a defining moment in my life. It gave me perspective outside of myself, and allowed me to actually fix what was wrong in my life. Accepting pain creates space around it, and gives us the wiggle room to breath.

As I get older, I notice acceptance comes easier. I also see some things I accept that I shouldn’t. And I’ve conditioned myself to do so, for fear of stressing about the unimportant, or getting distracted from the bigger picture.

On top of that, most days I am woken by a screen and my breakfast is now Facebook notifications. The time I used to take for introspection has been replaced with an addictive need to fill my quiet moments with something other than thoughts.

I run from them, or analyze them like I’m putting myself on trial. Sometimes I justify bad decisions despite the small voice inside trying to rise up in protest. Even knowing this, it still happens.

In life, there’s a certain satisfaction in connecting the dots and making decisions based on developed intuition. Even better when those decisions pan out right.

Slightly destructive when they don’t.

As a kid, we’d push my friend’s trampoline up against his parent’s shop and jump off.

I was never much of a daredevil, but I can still recall my slick windbreaker causing me to slide off the edge of the building..somehow managing to jump at the last moment and land halfway on the springs, halfway on the trampoline.

In 2017, we have entire indoor parks devoted to them. An oasis of gravity defying possibility, complete with basketball goals, obstacle courses, and pits of cushions.

Where it all happened.

At the one in Tennessee, there is even an arcade and a climbing wall.

The first thing I realized when we went was how obvious the warning videos were.

“If you are injured, pregnant, or under medication, do not participate.”

“Possibility of injury or extreme death.”

Extreme death…a bit overboard, wasn’t it?

At an out-of-shape 200 pounds, I was not well suited for acrobatics. Or even controlling my jumps for that matter. Between each trampoline was an abrupt stop, a knee-jarring platform. More than twice I came down with more force than intended.

Erika had no problem executing perfect back handsprings, her 24 year old frame still well-suited from her cheerleading days.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit surprised when she executed three perfect backflips to my three muddled backflops. Knowing I wasn’t as in shape as she was, I amused myself by seeing how high I could jump.

3 feet high.

5 feet high.



The tectonic plates in my left knee shifted, snapping inward with enough force to tear my ACL, but not enough to send me to the ground.

I stumbled forward, my leg buckling the opposite way it was supposed to, nausea creeping from my knee to my gut. Ego being my primary concern, I kept stumbling, more ashamed that I’d actually hurt myself than anything, and painfully aware of people watching me.

“We gotta go.” I gasped to Erika.

“You ok?” The smile on her face turned into a look of confusion, then of concern as I must have turned the color of fine talcum powder.

She helped me maneuver into the arcade, where I tried my best to stomach the pain. The possibility that I’d caused significant damage wasn’t even a consideration, I just knew this felt like nothing I’d experienced before.

In short, it was pretty fucking scary.

My dad has knee problems, so does my brother and most of the other men in my family. But not me, I’m the one who heals like Wolverine, right?

Not this time.

My leg began swelling immediately. Nausea quickly turned into tightness. We began the 6 hour drive back to Greenwood, South Carolina, with me brooding silently out of the window, my leg hurting more and more, no ice, no chaser.

So here I job, my leg compromised, and two businesses to oversee. I was about to find out what being rich meant, and it had nothing to do with money.

What came next was another climb, another fall, and a new way of experiencing the world.

To be continued…



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
James Crawford

James Crawford

⚔the meme is mightier than the sword⚔ bjj purple belt 🥷 writer/artist