When I was in high school, I had a friend. He played the bass guitar and the cello. In the high school orchestra, he was principal cellist. He was two years older than I, and when I was a freshman, he was already a junior. Soon I heard that he had also been a rather talented football player on the varsity squad, but after his freshman year, or so, he went to the coach and said he wasn't going to continue because he was worried that he would hurt his fingers and wouldn't be able to play the cello any more.

This past summer, my whole family was together. My younger brother and I were shooting some baskets and we asked our older brother if he wanted to join us. He is also a working musician, who relies on music to put food on his table. He declined our invitation, saying that he doesn't do any types of sports where he could injure something like fingers, making it difficult or impossible to play music.

I think in both cases, I felt like these guys were maybe taking things a little too seriously, but the last couple weeks, I think I may have changed my thinking to be more in line with theirs. This summer, my family attended a pool party. I was looking forward to trying out the diving board. In junior high and high school, I was pretty fearless on the diving board, trying out just about any crazy dive I could think of. I wanted to try those out again, but it had been probably 15 years since I had tried any of them, so I was a bit nervous about injuring something. At the end of the party, I had tried most of the dives I could remember from my teen years, and hadn't hurt myself (nor anyone else). I thought, "I've still got it, I'm still young." The last month has given me reason to feel that I may still have it, but I'm not so young as I used to be.

At the start of October, the school where I work held their field day. Teachers were expected to participate and I was signed up for three or so events, including the 100 meter dash. I would not say that I am out of shape. After all, I am running several times a week and practicing taiko several times a week as well. But I have probably not participated in track and field events since elementary school. I never realized how many of your muscles you use in a all out sprint like in the 100 Meters. I gave it my all and ran as hard as I could. I could hardly move the next day because of sore muscles.

About two weeks ago, the school held another athletic event, this time just for teachers. I played softball. The following day's sore muscles again reminded me of my age. Baseball may look like a slow game, but reacting quickly from a stationary stance to a hit ball uses a lot of muscles that I was unaware of. Again, I was giving 110%, but I'll have to remember next time to take it easy, especially if it's a sport I haven't played in many years.

Of course, the sore muscles were not what changed my thinking to be more in line with my brother's. It was at the softball game, though. At one point, when I was trying a little too hard, I actually attempted to slide into first base. After thinking this through, this action probably showed my ignorance of baseball/softball because I don't think you should ever slide into first base. Anyhow, through that action, I believe I hyper-extended my left elbow. For a day or so, it was quite painful and I couldn't do much with it, but soon I was able to do most of the activities I could before. There was a pain in my forearm, however, which was not going away, and it would even wake me up at night sometimes. After about a week of undiminished pain, I began to worry that I might have fractured a bone or something. Although I was fairly certain this was not the case, some of the feelings were similar to those I had when I broke my thumb practicing kendo about a year and a half ago. This led to 6 or 7 weeks where I could not practice kendo. I began to think of the implications of a broken forearm. That would mean 6 weeks, at least, of no taiko practice. It was my left forearm, which is already weak as I am right handed, and after 6 weeks in a cast, it would be even weaker. When I have to miss one taiko practice because of a cold, or whatever, I am actually quite down. Thinking about missing 6 weeks was rather depressing. Then I began to think of my brother, and when he turned down our invitation to play basketball, and I started to understand why he turned us down.

Last week I finally went to see the doctor. He took x-rays and said there were not fractures, it was just taking a while to heal. Thank goodness. It was a bit of scare, but I am glad it was nothing serious. I do not think I will be cutting out all sports from my life now, but I believe I will certainly be more careful.

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