It hit me about 10 seconds after I heard the door close behind me, and about three steps from my car. I didn’t have my keys. I was locked out of my apartment. It was about one in the afternoon and I had just meant to run out to my car to grab something and head back inside. I was grateful that despite how sluggish and tired I had been feeling all day I had decided to shower and get dressed and even just to run outside to my car I had thrown on my shoes. I had everything I’d need to go out for the day, except my keys. Knowing my roommates wouldn’t be home for a few hours, and not having either of their numbers yet, I decided to make the most of this situation and enjoy the sunshine outside and go for a walk. And that’s what I did. I spent the next 3 hours walking around Provo. Exploring some side streets, finding a couple of small parks I didn’t know about, and learning that the afternoon manager at McDonalds must have been having a bad day. Thankfully, there was an Arby’s across the road and I could get some water and sit down for a bit.
Walking for me has always been peaceful. When I get stressed I like to walk. When I can’t sleep, I walk. If I’m on the phone for a long time, I usually will go walk. Walking has long been a way for me to clear my head, appreciate nature and just reflect. That means that on my forced tour of the city, I did a lot of thinking and a lot of reflection.
I had a lot of thoughts, not all of which I’m done reflecting on or ready to share yet, but I had a few that really stuck out to me. One was about the name of my blog. Yoyoing with Zed. Zed has been a nickname given to me by my father and not used a lot outside of the home until I went to college. It was there that I began to introduce myself to people as Zed, and upon watching another Zach run off with my taco bell order, I decided Zed was the safer alternative. The yoyo is a toy I have been fascinated with for a long time, but never really took seriously until I was on my mission. I was in my second area of service, in the city of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. The elder I was serving with at the time, I’ll refer to him as King, and I had grown tired of the usual basketball/ sit around the chapel activities that defined a pretty normal Monday for us missionaries. We decided instead to go explore the many shops that were to be found in Lethbridge, and there were quite the number of them. One of them was a snowboard shop called Infamous. It was a fun little shop, filled with snowboards and clothing, skateboards, longboards, and was decorated with a plethora of Star Wars themed items. And it was in a display case, to the left of the main counter if my memory serves me, that I found them. A display of yoyos. It turns out that one of the owners was an enthusiast, and he was really good. Especially to my novice eyes. I almost bought one on the spot, but King talked me into waiting a week, and after waiting and thinking about it I went back the following week and walked away with my very own competition level yoyo. It was beautiful. Sleek looking and smooth to the touch. It spun well and made the most amazing sound as it would spin on the bearing located at the center. And with that single purchase began a fascination with yoyos and the first stages of a hobby that I still hold dear to me today.
Between the bruises (turns out yoyos are painful when they hit you on the side of the head) and the frustration of having to figure out tricks on my own, I slowly began to get better. I became smoother and more polished in the few moves I could figure out on my own. It was a journey. When I broke my ankle 8 months later, I would prop myself up against the wall, crutches nestled safely under my arm and out of the way, and practice the yoyo in my apartment and, when I could begin venturing out again, my companion and I would find parks and busy streets and wait for people to come to us. Slowly I worked my yoyo into use as a tool. It became an ice-breaker as I attempted to talk to complete strangers. I learned quickly that people would stop for a trick. People would request tricks, usually walk the dog, and I would happily oblige them and begin a conversation. It was fun. I learned a skill that not only allowed me to benefit from being able to say I learned something new and stuck with it, but opened the doors to talking to people, sharing something that was important to me with them, and to have fun while doing it.
So when I began this blog, not long after getting home from my mission, it made sense to me that when I looked for a name my mind turned back to the hobby that had become foremost in my life. Yoyoing. I thought it would be a fun title. A place where I could ramble about whatever crossed my mind, get the itch to write taken care of that I often feel, and have it out there for anyone to read that takes the time or cares to. I never once about any more meaning than that when I named this blog, but little did I realize then the importance that this name would come to mean to me now. My first thought, and in my experience most people’s first thoughts, when it comes to a yoyo is up and down. That’s really what a yoyo is at its heart, isn’t it? Something that goes up and down. More than that to me though, is what you can do with a yoyo between the up and down. The tricks. The cool side of yo-yoing.
I had a thought yesterday that really stuck with me. My blog title means to me that when you’re yo-yoing with me, you’re seeing my ups and downs, and heaven knows that with MS I have a ton of them. My day can go from up to down and back again before I even know it. There are so many little things that happen. Everything from a sudden loss of feeling in my hand, to a major day of fatigue. These are just the accepted parts of my day now. My accepted norm and it’s not something I think about too often, besides thinking that it’s just there. Thus the name of my blog was almost predictive of my future of learning to deal with the constant up and downs I would face. It’s exhausting. It’s overwhelming. Especially lately where I’ve been trying to balance starting school and maintaining both of my jobs and being a functional adult. And lately I’ve felt the low ends a lot more than I have the ups. The thought I had yesterday though was about my yo-yoing. I can’t do any tricks, until I throw the yoyo down. The downward motion is what gives it the spin it needs to stay balanced and to give it momentum to move into a series of tricks. And only after that downward motion can the magic happen. And it ends with the up motion and the yoyo returning to my hand. I can’t have one without the other. I can’t have the fun, cool looking tricks, without the downward motion to get everything spinning. And it dawned on me that maybe life is like that. We need to have the ups and downs, and sometimes we need to have the down moments to get us spinning and give us the chance to do something before we find that up again. I’m not saying that I’m sitting on a string and being spun around in some neat loops and fancy finger grinds, but that, thinking about my life, the ups and downs together tell my story. And in that sense, while I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone else, I wouldn’t wish it away at this point either, because it’s my story. It’s my collections of ups and downs, and just like learning to yoyo, you have to master the ups and downs before you master the tricks that go in between. And that thought gives me some hope for the future. What cool things will I be able to get to, despite the ups and downs? What tricks will I be able to learn? It’s a small reminder to me that no matter how low I feel I’m getting, I can look forward to the up that I know is coming and I can be excited for whatever comes in the middle as well.
Much like a yoyo.