SUMS Stories: Shane Kipling
My story started out as the Canadian dream. My dad had an outdoor rink in the backyard, and everybody in my family worked as janitors so I could be a hockey player. I respected that a lot because they gave up a lot of things for me to play hockey. I was lucky, had lots of great training, and I worked really hard. It was a dream of mine and I succeeded in going all the way to the NHL. So I was really excited, my dream was about to come true. I went to training camp and I was doing really, really well. And in a normal play that I must have done 10,000 times in my life where I tried to stop really hard, another player’s stick got caught in my skate and it just destroyed my leg. It stretched the ligaments so badly that they were irreparable, so I was never the same hockey player. I’ve had about 50 operations but I continued on because that’s what I thought I had to do. Instead of getting better, I became slowly worse. I had two knee operations, got into a car accident, and basically fell apart. It was a real shock but I tried to do what a hockey player would do and just suck it up. So I carried that around inside me for a long time – 15, 20 years – and I couldn’t understand why I was always a little aggravated. I tried to make my life different; I became an actor, moved to Toronto, had relationships, but even though I was happy, inside I was a little bit bitter, because I refused to talk about what was going on.
Then finally, as things go, I ended up in a really bad relationship, beating myself up. I finally discovered that I didn’t like myself. But throughout this time, I was getting acquainted with “The Big Guy Upstairs” because I had no other choice but to believe in something. So as it goes I was a high rise window cleaner by that time because I was always trying to get the excitement that came from hockey, so high rise window cleaning was ok and I did that for 15 years but still I was not really happy. Until finally I went to the side of a building and there was a really big pain on my side from drinking lots of alcohol, and there was a voice that said “You better stop, or you’re going to die”. But I didn’t listen. So the next day, I had to go all the way down because it was really bad and the voice came out and said “Do you want to live or do you want to die?”. I said “I want to live”. So I stopped drinking on the spot and about three weeks later I realised that I was really happy. It was ok to laugh and it was really good. Then there was another voice that said we had to break up the relationship because it was really toxic.
It was such a shock to be that close. The next day I was supposed to play. They had me in a lineup to play against Marcel Dionne and the LA Kings and then I got hurt. It was really mind-blowing. It used to bother me sometimes. I had these dreams where I would put my skates on. But as I finally accepted it and I left my relationship, I’ve tried to listen more and more to this Creator or Higher Thing and things have really changed for me. Now I’m going back to school. I want to work on an ocean liner and hopefully be in the entertainment section. I’ve written this play and this is where it gets interesting. Because I know that the Big Guy has always been there caring for me. Finally, I said “I know You’re here and You know what I want to do. Can I do this play?” The voice asks “Why do I want to do this?”. I say a) because it’s so much fun and b) maybe for an hour and a half people will like it and forget about their troubles. Those are the main reasons why I do it.