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Live and Learn

Published on May 17, 2013 by in Words of Wisdom

Ah life’s little adventures.

My Mustang

Three weeks ago, on May 8, I gave in to a childhood dream and traded my little pickup for a bright yellow 2001 Ford Mustang Convertible.

Someone suggested it must be a midlife crisis. Ha! If this is a midlife crisis, I’m going to live to be 140 something. No it’s more like a second, no, third, no, fourth childhood.

At any rate I am thrilled with my “new” car. So, on Thursday the 9th, I’m driving it, top down of course when I approach a line of traffic waiting for a light to change. I step on the brake, the motor roars (This car is designed to roar.) and I slow down very little. I pull on the hand brake; slow down a bit more, then thunk, I hit the car in front of me. Seems the floor mat was over the brake and accelerator at the same time so when I hit the brake it didn’t stop.

Good news: no one is hurt, both drivers have insurance, and the damage to my pony is minimal. So I take the car to the body shop, and they predict it will be fixed by the 15th. Good. I’m disappointed of course but I can wait a week to drive my car. I have very little impulse control, but I can do it. I can wait. I have no choice, so ok, I can wait.

So on Monday, the 13th, I’m carrying some stuff down the back stairs to the patio when I step half on and half off the sidewalk. Down I go, and I hear a distinct “pop.” Long story short, I have broken a bone in my foot.  I get a temporary splint at the emergency room, and some crutches.

On the 15th I have a training scheduled in Wichita. My loving and long-suffering wife, Rebecca, volunteers to drive me. (She also volunteers to bring me my meals, and anything else I need.)

In case you don’t know it, when you aren’t used to walking on crutches it is very painful. Today as I write this (May 17) my ribcage is still tender from where they dug into me.

So, yesterday, I went to the orthopedic doctor and got good news: No surgery needed, the foot will heal on its own, we just need to keep it immobile. More good news: I’m fitted with a boot that permits me to put weight on my broken foot.

My Boot

I can walk without crutches! Well, it’s a bit painful, and I use crutches most of the time but since they don’t have to bear my full weight, using them is much less painful.

“How long will I need to wear the boot, Doctor?”

“Probably five or six weeks at the least.”

“And can I drive with the boot on?”

“You really shouldn’t.”

Wait a minute. I bought a “new” car. I drove it one day. And now it’s gonna be five or six weeks till I can drive it again?

Huge sigh.

OK, lessons learned. (I’m a teacher; I can’t just experience something without turning it into a teaching moment.)

One: I am reminded of Victor Frankl’s maxim “You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react.” I am choosing to be grateful that no one was hurt in the accident; that I had good insurance; and that my car is fixable. I have also chosen to be grateful that my fall didn’t break more than my foot; that the injury is minor and will heal without surgery; and that I can walk without crutches.

I am also grateful that I have a wonderful supportive wife who is so willing to help me while I recover.

That leads me to the second lesson:  I have discovered that not only is it “more blessed to give than to receive” it is easier. I absolutely hated not being able to carry a cup of coffee into the living room. When I was in Wichita, I discovered I couldn’t open the bathroom door. I had to ask for help. I couldn’t get a bottle of water and carry it to the front of the room. Someone had to bring me my box lunch.

Asking for help is not easy. Giving help is.

So I’m grateful that I’m recovering. This morning I got my own coffee. I managed to climb the stairs to my office. Life is good.

But I want to drive my Mustang! Now!

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