Busting Knee Caps: Contemplating Pain, Career, & Money

I winced in pain. I’d stepped down just wrong on my foot, and the ice-pick stab in the back of my heel made me yelp. It’s been almost 3 years since a truck driver didn’t see my 6’5” frame pedaling my bike, and slammed on the accelerator to merge into traffic. 


I  remember the smell of the diesel engine as I rested on his front grill for a second, then the feeling of being tossed through the air. I can still hear the crunching sound as I came down on my right foot. I’d broken my ankle, and I was mad. So mad that I irrationally marched into four lanes of traffic to retrieve my iPhone which had shot out of my pocket during the crash. 


How much is an ankle worth? $50,000? If someone came up and offered to break your knee cap (you get to choose which one) for a hundred grand, would you do it? Looking back now, I’m not sure what 3 years of rehabilitation, pain, and the resulting on-again-off-again depression would fetch on the open market. Perspective, like market values, change over time.


The reason I keep mulling over this morbid subject is because it touches on an important point: how much money will get you to do something you hate? 


We all have to make this deal weekly in our lifestyle and career. Is it worth 6 hours of pain in the gym each week so I don’t get diabetes when I’m 40? Is a gig playing to drunks that ignore me all night worth the $1,000 I’m getting paid? Is a career I find very enjoyable 80% of the time worth the 20% that completely sucks? 


There is no formula I can offer, no one right answer. But to ignore the question is to spend your entire career angry, in denial, and miserable. Eventually, we all have to decide what the pain is worth, accept it as a hazard of the job or get out, and stop constantly complaining that it hurts.


P.S. In no way am I minimizing physical, mental, or relationship pains. You do not get to choose if you were born in an abusive home, have a physical deformity, or fight a mental illness. The only thing we get to choose it how we respond to it.