Where Do I Go from Here?
I’m sure most women can relate when I say I tried on everything I own, nothing looked good, nothing fit right and by the time I left it looked like a hurricane had hit my bedroom, leaving clothes scattered all over the bed and hanging from door knobs. Even as I drove to the event, I grumbled inside how I hated my shoes and lusted for a glass of cold wine to fix my foul mood. But as I entered the hotel to attend the black-tie event, it was not the big mirrors of the banquet hall that made me realize I was a schmuck of epic proportions, nor was it the gorgeous and fabulously dressed who’s who also in attendance. It was the hundred-plus individuals who entered the building at quite a different pace—they rolled in on wheelchairs to attend “A Magical Evening,” the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation fundraiser dinner for those with spinal cord injuries. The startling contrast between the two worlds of those on heels and those on wheels breathed life into the old adage: “I envied the man with a pair of [designer] shoes, until I saw a man with no feet.” But, as the night unfolded, the adage transformed before my eyes. Those who could not walk took to the dance floor in their wheelchairs, while others took to the stage to inspire us, demonstrating how life can go on beautifully despite our handicaps. Where one initially saw those who could not stand or walk due to spinal cord injuries, one could yet envy these individuals who have outpaced most people with their courage, unyielding determination, and joie de vivre. By night’s end it became less clear who was there to help whom. I wondered, however, whether it was equally bad to compare oneself with those who have it “worse” as it is to compare oneself with those who have it better. I concluded in my mind, that as long as we are looking at each other to learn and not to judge or covet, then it is okay. The question I was left with is how can we go on when our life changes overnight, when everything we have lived for dies? I can never forget the story of female basketball player Rayna DuBose. She was 6’3”, very pretty, and embarking on a promising college basketball career at Virginia Tech in 2002. Her skills as a player were quite special. She could have reached the “heavens” with her talent and jump shot. One day at practice, Dubose wasn’t feeling too well and fainted. She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors told her parents that she was the sickest girl in Virginia and may die. She was in a coma for three weeks. Dubose had contracted meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection that had wreaked so much tissue damage the doctors were forced to amputate both her hands and feet. Today, wearing prosthetics and high-heeled shoes, she sees only the good in her story. Her website is themed: “Winning the Game of Life.” When people tell her that she inspires them or is very strong she asks, “How can I inspire when I feel so normal in this world?” When Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong was asked how cancer changed him his answer was, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me because it made me a better man.” He went on to say that “there are two Lance Armstrongs, pre-cancer and post and evidently, the best man won.” When Parkinson’s disease threw Michael J. Fox out of the driver’s seat of his life, he was distraught. Today, he says, “I’ve seen illness. I’ve seen, you know, certainly over the years, a lot of young children get ill… if I want to feel bad for anybody… there is a long list of people’s names—and my name is not on it.” He recounts how every morning he passes the mirror, “I look at it and I say, what are you smiling at? And then I realize that because it just gets better from here.” Although sometimes we can become petty, believe me my wardrobe is the least of my problems and I’m certain the least of yours too. But when big things do hit us in life -- sickness, divorce, bankruptcy, the death of people we love -- undoubtedly a part of us dies too, but it is still not yet time to put up our tombstones. Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big God is. Chose the tree of life and live to love another day. Just keep on walking even if you hate your shoes. ************************* Sponsored by the Wordsmithy for all your editing needs. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information