The Toughest Bar to Cross The protagonist of "Crossbar" has had his life altered violently and is now trying to cope with the effects of this great change. Aaron Kornylo is a champion high jumper until a piece of farm machinery severs his right leg and changes his life forever Now Aaron lives in anger, bitterly denying the inevitable: he must learn to accept his loss.
Until a farm accident changed his life forever, the young man of this story enjoyed the life of a world-class athlete. Before he was injured, Aaron Kornylo was one of the best high jumpers in Canadian sports history. He enjoyed the attention his victories brought him. Aaron recalls, "standing proud on the dais... being vested with his Commonwealth Games gold by Prince Charles himself" (Gault 61). To Aaron it was a perfect life, or "his personal vision of the best of all possible worlds" (Gaul 62).
He was an accomplished athlete, "the best... Willow Creek had ever produced" (Gault 62). Then people revered Aaron, and he was completely satisfied with his life. All of this changes abruptly and violently when a farming accident almost kills Aaron and necessitates the amputation of his leg. With his leg severed by a harvester, driven by his father, Aaron is continually haunted. He relives the incident through a nightmare of his: "first the noise- the machine's noise- would have to come, closer and closer and... then the pain, so terrible that the brain in it's mysterious wisdom shut down the system... just after the scream" (Gault 60). Forced to have his leg amputated, "the surgeons in Saskatoon had done a fine job, very neat... but he didn't feel like giving [any] thanks" (Gault 62). Looking down at "the rounded stump that had once been his right leg" (Gault 62) Aaron would have no choice but to "get used to... that hated wooden leg" (Gaul 62). The physical part of Aaron's injury is the only visible sign of his problem, for this young man is now struggling with the prospect of life as an amputee.
His life drastically altered by the loss of his right leg, Aaron will have to learn acceptance and place hope in his future. Aaron is presently having a difficult time coping- both physically and mentally. He does not and will not accept the loss of his leg. By thinking of his lost high jumping career Aaron is saddened: "wiping at his eyes, [he] opened them and returned to his room, to everything he had been and would never be again" (Gault 61). Mr. Kornylo now even finds everyday routines tedious: "even something as normal and inevitable as dropping the soap required an irritating and clumsy ritual of recovery" (Gault 61). When Aaron's leg was severed his self-worth was also lost. Looking back on his accomplishments, "what had once been smiling ride... had become something closer to morbid fascination" (Gault 61). His outlook on life is reflected physically: "the blue eyes were icy... [and his] sensual mouth had become just a functional slit." (Gault 62). Aaron can no longer see any pleasure in his life and perceives his future to be very dismal and grim. When Aaron looks at himself in the mirror, "he tries to smile, but it doesn't work: all he gets is a... grimace" (Gault 62). Aaron is not yet able to accept himself. He watched a medal his "until it sat there as cold and dead as it truly was'" (Gault 62) and then mutters, "'like me'" (Gault 62), showing that at the moment he feels very desolate. This former athlete does not know what to do with his life without high jumping. Withdrawn, Aaron reflects, "maybe there is more to life than jumping in the air, but that remains to be seen" (Gault 62). If Aaron Kornylo will only display and look at himself the way he does with his medals- what's most important on the inside- maybe he will truly be able to see what's most important in his life.
It's a sad fact of life that a violent event can alter one's existence harshly and permanently. Aaron Kornylo was indeed one of Canada's best athletes until that fateful day when a farm harvester destroyed his right leg. Now Aaron spends he time reminiscing past glories and struggling to accept his new reality. Perhaps after Aaron puts some distance between the accident and his present life, he will regain the sense of purpose that made him such a great athlete.
Works Cited Gault. "Crossbar" The Writer's Voice 2 Ed. William Boswell, Betty Lament, and John Martyn. Toronto: Gage 1998. 60-62.