December 20, 2016

Teach Me How To Walk

Here’s how the story goes as I heard it.  Dave might tell you differently.  But it really fit…  With my theme.  With my heart.  With my branding.  Is that a thing?  Yes, I freaking have a brand.  Thanks for your support.


I have a friend with Spina Bifida.  Yah, I can’t tell you that ever mattered.  But he does ride in a wheelchair.  I may not have really noticed.  I mean, I did.  But his freaking attitude makes him seem 6 foot 5 inches.  He told me once he had a date when he was 18 years old.  He climbed three flights of stairs in his wheelchair.  Yes, he had a great night with that date.  How much of a reward would you give a guy who did all that?  And no, I don’t need examples. 


But he has a daughter. 


And that’s where my parenting brand jumps in…


She told him he couldn’t walk because no one had clearly ever taken the time to teach him. 


She was SIX years old. The magnification of that detail is tres importante.  That’s French for super fucking important.


He actually took the time to play along. This obviously at this point enters him in my yearly, “Father of the Year” award.  No, I don’t actually have that contest, but doesn’t it make him more famous sounding?  Yes.  Yes, is the answer. 


He sat on the floor and allowed her to take the time to try to teach him how to walk.  One foot in front of the other, one at a time, that sort of thing. 


I hate to ruin the story for you, but the reality is that the teaching practice wasn’t the actual problem.  There was, in fact, no problem with the teaching of walking.  The gross and obvious overlooking of teaching the man in the wheelchair to walk was not at all, the problem.  He can’t walk.  He can talk, I can vouch for that.  But he can’t walk.  He can yell and whisper and lift weights and laugh and make fun and inspire and degrade and raise money for others who have Spina Bifida, but he can’t, make his legs and feet carry him over or out of the wheelchair. 


And nary a second of his life seems wasted in self-pity or retrospect or regret.  He runs a business, he keeps a family, a marriage, a child, chairs the local Spina Bifida organization…  But he doesn’t walk.  Seems like of all the things available, he’s almost due this disability as an equalizing factor.  He may not agree, but I’m the writer here. 


After fifteen minutes of careful and directed teaching from his six year old daughter, she throws her hands up and says perfunctorily, “Mom was right.  You don’t listen.” 


I am tempted to end the story there because it really all has been said. But that’s not my style.  I am in a coffee shop in New York City, amongst various couples who have known each other or are meeting for the first time or girlfriends having lunch or mothers and children, working amidst the noise.  I have some time to think. 


It means more.


It means the world isn’t always how just “we” or “I” see it.  It’s how the seer sees it.  That may or may not be a real sentence.  But isn’t the world different to each of us?  Isn’t the way we see each other dependent on our experience? 


The answer is obviously yes.  It’s different.  The perspective is how we see it.  Our success or failure is simply the way we see it. 


Stay focused.  Feel the way you feel alone.  See your reality as it is, just to you. 


And the rest is just fluff.  The rest is outside of our bodies.  The rest is failure or success to someone else.  And that’s ok.


I wish you a lesson you’ve never had before.  I wish you a new perspective.  If you can’t walk, sometimes you can let someone try to teach you anyway.  And when the outcome is that you still can’t walk (and yes, this is a metaphor for something you are learning), be sure to learn something else. 


It’s not always about the obvious.  It’s sometimes about just taking the time, just listening, just enjoying, just watching, just being. 


To you today!  To new lessons!  And to the obvious.  Sometimes, you can’t walk, but you can do everything else.  Allow someone else their experience too.