In April of this year, my daughter tore the ACL in her right knee, ending her high school lacrosse season, and her high school sports career. It was even more upsetting because she had torn the ACL in her other knee 19 months earlier playing soccer. When she fell to the ground this time and cried out, it wasn’t so much the pain of the injury, but the misery of knowing that it had happened again.

The 2009 surgery took place about three weeks after that first injury. This time around the doctor suggested she wait longer so as not to interfere with the end of her junior year of high school – SATs, final exams, etc. She asked if she could wait seven additional weeks so that she could work, as planned, as part of the dining room staff of the summer camp she had attended for the previous eight summers. The doctor said yes, as long as she avoided sports and wasn’t experiencing episodes of instability with the knee. Unfortunately, a week into her summer job she told us that her knee was not holding up.

The doctor said that we should bring her home and have surgery as soon as possible. She had spent two weeks at camp, and would now spend the next five weeks recovering from surgery and rehabbing her knee, rather than being with her close friends at the camp she loves more than anywhere. Marcie (my wife) and I had to cancel our summer vacation to visit family and friends in Portland, Oregon, but our daughter’s summer was messed up way more than ours was.

Here’s the point of this post: While my daughter had her down moments and will not fondly remember this summer, she spent more of her thoughts on silver linings rather than what was lost. Some of those silver linings are obvious. For example, she was able to be off crutches well before she returned to school in September. Some are more particular to our situation. For example, she knew that the physical therapist with whom she had a very positive experience after the first ACL surgery (Lauren) was pregnant and if the surgery had been at the end of the summer as originally scheduled, she would have been able to work with Lauren for only a short while before having to find a new PT. With the earlier surgery, she was able to work with Lauren for the bulk of her rehab, and most importantly, the first part of the recovery, which is the most critical (psychologically and physically.)

Things happen in life. We turn left or we turn right. One window closes and another opens. We think we know what it would have been like if things went the way we had originally planned, but we’ll never know. All we know is the way it turned out – so why not make the best of it and think about the positives, rather than wishing some “bad thing” hadn’t happened. Wishing it away will do nothing. We’re living in the past when we do that, instead of living in the present. Living in the present moment is the way to be and allows you to move ahead to the future, which is the only direction we can go. So, when something happens, think of the silver linings. Try doing that for the next 21 days to make it a habit.


How do you handle things which don’t go the way you had hoped? Do you think about the silver linings of the new path? How about living in the present moment? Are you slowing down to enjoy life’s experiences rather than thinking about the past or the future? Join the conversation…