Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Perspective Pause

Our neighbor is currently undergoing therapy for a bad back. Watching her struggle to get to the bathroom, walk down the hall, or get in and out of her car reminds me to stoke the fires of my gratitude for my own unhampered mobility. If you are currently enjoying good health, I encourage you to do the same. Every sprint for a gate, every fold and unfold out of an airline seat, every stretch we take in the current night's bed which we can make without a grimace is a gift.

Sure, I suffer with an odd hitch or twitch every now and again. I’m 62. However, it’s nothing that doesn't work itself out after I get the ol' bod moving. But I remember well the book tour I endured while lugging a carry-on bag and my torturous pain from state to state. When I stop and open my memory portfolio to that trip log, I still recall--can almost feel--how long it took me to stand at the end of a flight by uprighting a quarter-inch at a time, switching between holding my breath and panting in order to stifle a scream. I still applaud the kind travelers around me who asked if they could help with my bag.

Medications, prayers, guts and grit, sheer will . . . What we endure on the road is too often taken for granted--until it stops us dead in our tracks.

If you are living through one of those grinding spells, know I am cheering you on and encouraging each of the rest of us to watch for opportunities to help a wounded sojourner. Perhaps it will be you. Sure, we like to gripe about the folks whose carry-on bags are too heavy for them to handle; but sometimes any bag--no matter how lightly we've packed--is cause for intense distress. We cannot always judge a "situation" by the sour look on a face, a discombobulated moment or a short temper. Perhaps the miracle for that person is that they've arrived in front of us at all!

Some of you might remember that early last year, my husband underwent two knee replacements. The second surgery took place shortly after I broke my leg. The kindnesses of friends, neighbors and strangers in parking lots helped to see we two ambulatory messes through the . . . ambulatory messes. Sure, today we might be in a hurry or a tad under the weather ourselves, but it only takes a moment to make a world of difference in the spirit of a fellow traveler. Besides, what does our selfishness gain us on the road, aside from maybe a quiet moment, a well chewed meal, the best seat in the fuselage or airport cafe, the front of the line, a room away from the elevator, an uninterrupted life. . . .


Please step forward and remind me about gratefulness and a helping hand the next time I'm ready to knock the snot out of the slow-moving and/or whining person in front of me. The next time I’m whining to you about “them.” It seems that I, too, need to listen to me. Sometimes I know some pretty darn good stuff. And no, I’m not talking about how selfishness pays!

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