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Can You Know Brokenness Without Being Broken?

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 28, 2021

In this short film by Simon Perkins, Jon Wilson shares his story of how cancer left him with one leg and the perspective he’s gained by skinning up and then skiing down mountains.

Sometimes I forget I’m broken. I cover up my scars and plug my ears. Things go okay for a while, but then I start thinking I’m entitled to some artificial slice of happiness, and before I know it I’m climbing a ladder to nowhere. To get down again, and find my equilibrium, it helps to remember when I was so low. It also helps to remind myself that life is relatively good if I have the luxury to ski up a goddamn mountain.

Many of us are scared to be broken. I’m a high school teacher, and I see it in the kids around me every day. They’re conditioned by black mirrors and social media algorithms designed for “perfect offerings.” We tell them about the ills of brokenness, but not the power and wisdom in it. We talk about post-traumatic stress — not post-traumatic growth. Being broken is a pre-existing condition that is never expunged from our record. And while I would never wish it on anyone, I would never trade in my scars, even if it meant having my leg back.