There are times in life when we face struggles we’re not sure if we can overcome.
Take, for instance, the Three Lakes Sprint Triathlon which took place last weekend at the Lakedale Resort on San Juan. I was one of the roughly 30 entries who endured the bite-sized version of a standard triathlon’s swim, bike and run. I trained for about five months with the help of a clinic at San Juan Island Fitness. I worked out, on average, about five days a week. Today, I’m in the best shape of my life.
I also finished the race almost dead last.
It can be hard to accept that trying your hardest might not lead to success; that your best may not be good enough.
And then you meet someone like Quincy Vague, the 17-year-old Friday Harbor High School student who, as a result of a cancerous brain tumor, can no longer see, nor walk or stand on his own. Virtually overnight, Vague’s life was turned upside down, where the once prominent football and track player now has to adjust to life blind and with limited mobility.
Challenges like those, which are more numerous and arduous than most will ever endure, must feel overwhelming. But you wouldn’t know by talking to the high school senior.
Vague is easygoing and playful. He speaks of turning on now un-needed lamps out of habit, his somewhat “lazy” brothers who don’t always help him around the house, and a big sister and mother who are always there to help pick up the pieces.
He is optimistic, though like most teens, unsure of a future career, which he muses could include his booming voice and 97 percent-grade in speech class.
Vague faces his challenges with grace and positivity. He doesn’t compare his success to his peers but looks at his individual growth since that February 2017 day when his brain tumor was first discovered. Vague is learning braille more quickly than his tutor has ever seen; he is studying how to navigate in the world as a blind person, including learning to cross streets; he humbly accepts his abilities today and sees the possibilities for growth tomorrow.
Vague is an inspiration to all who have ever thought maybe their own challenges were too hard or even impossible.
So maybe next year, I’ll finish sooner in the sprint triathlon, or even compete in the full race. I mean, if Vague can continue to reach for his goals, so can I.