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Jim's Article:  My Breaking Point

Jim's Article: My Breaking Point

February 01, 2019

I recently learned an important fact:  I’m not same person I was 30 years ago. 

The most immediate causes of this revelation were a couple of self-induced injuries.  Way back in October of last year, I ran into an old high school friend with whom I had played soccer.  We were reminiscing of old times and he told me about a pick-up game of Futsal (Brazilian version of indoor soccer) played in a school gym down the street from my house every Monday night. 

Now I had not played any competitive soccer since my college days, but I felt like I was in pretty good shape and so I told him I’d show up.  When I did show up, I immediately felt comfortable when warming up, remembering the feel of passing, moving, marking and shooting.  Some of the guys there were in their 30s, but most were older guys like me in their 40s and 50s.  When play started, I was transported back to glorious times past, just like the old days.

For 8 minutes.

Suddenly it felt as if somebody hit me in the back of the right calf with a hammer.  I went down, unable to stand on that leg.  I was done for the night.  Eight freaking minutes. 

But hey, after icing it a bit and limping around a few days, I had concluded that I had “just” torn my calf muscle, and WebMD told me that with rest I could be back running around in about eight weeks.  I took it easy for a few months and bided my time, knowing I was getting better every day. 

Early January:  I’m back.  My right leg, while not 100%, was good enough:  I could play again!  I stretched more than normal, put tape on my right leg as a preventative measure, and promised myself I’d take it easy this time. 

I lasted 45 minutes this time. 

This time it was a hammer blow to the back of my LEFT leg!  Again, I couldn’t walk and barely made it home in my car (a stick shift, so the clutch was an especially fun challenge!).  I decided to visit the doctor this time and, much to my chagrin, he informed me that I had torn the Achilles tendon in my left leg.  Well, at least the right leg was now healthy enough to stand on!

So here I am, post Achilles-surgery, looking at a 6-month recovery period.  But I have health insurance and a very understanding spouse, so nobody should feel sorry for me.  I’ll be fine.  And yes, I’m officially retired from playing soccer! 

What’s the point of this story?  Well, it got me thinking.  It pains me to say it, but I’m just not the same old Jim anymore, a guy who could rely on his body to hold out no matter what stress was put upon it.  I’ve had friends who have had similar injuries, but I’ve always had the mindset that I could will myself to do anything.  This has turned out to not be true.  Tendons and muscles have breaking points, and I found mine. 

The fact that I’ve begun to find breaking points is not all bad.  Now that I realize I can no longer do anything my mind decides to do, I feel like I’ve entered a new phase of life.  No, not an “old man” regretful phase, but maybe a “wiser” phase.  I should focus on doing things that I can still do, because soon enough those things will be gone, too.  I’ve also realized I need to allow people to help me when I need help; it’s good for me and good for them. Acquaintances and strangers alike are constantly asking me if they can assist me.  I’ve learned I should both live for today and also let people help, because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Wow, as a financial planner, that’s hard to write: Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  That phrase is kind of the opposite of what Financial Planning attempts to instill in us!  However, maybe my realization that we must live for tomorrow AND live for today will make me think more broadly and wisely when I advise people about what to do.  Save for tomorrow, not just for your tomorrows, but also for your kids’/community’s/friends’/world’s tomorrows.  Do things today and plan for tomorrow.  Take a walk in the sunshine, but also plant a tree.

Financial planning is not just “future” planning:  it is planning for both the future and the present.  There are things we must save for, and things we must do today because we may not be able to do them in the future.  Financial planning is figuring out how to balance the present and the future.

I didn’t realize that January 7th was the last time I’d competitively play soccer, and maybe I’d have done it differently if I had known…maybe I wouldn’t have waited so long to get back into the game.  Now my mantra is to both live for tomorrow and live for today.  Accept help to find the balance.  A torn muscle and a torn tendon helped me learn these two things; the new, improved Jim will pass that along to my clients.