When I was a youngster, one of the biggest thrills in life was getting a new pair of sneakers.
In those days, Keds were what the cool kids wore. My parents watched their finances pretty closely, so I usually got a discount brand. Every once in a while, though, Mom came through.
Such was the case on a warm summer day shortly after the conclusion of third grade. Mom scored me a pair of Keds. I could hardly believe my good fortune. Putting them on was transformational. The cushion, the look, and the smell were euphoric!
I was eager to try them out because, as everyone knows, a nine-year-old is fastest when sneakers are brand new. My buddies were waiting outside. Soon they would be drooling.
Stepping outside into our yard, I was received like Royalty. New Keds were never overlooked. To demonstrate their functionality, I took off in a blur across the lawn. That’s when my world came crashing down.
About half-way to the street, in full stride, I lost my footing in an unmistakable way. I went down in a heap. Something was very wrong, and then I smelled it. I had stepped in, you know what. My brand new Keds were desecrated.
I searched for a stick, but that was little help because Keds have finally grooved treads, which is why they provided such good traction when rounding third and heading for home. Mine were effectively ruined on their maiden voyage. Ultimately, I removed them and took a garden hose to their undercarriage. They were no longer new.
Looking back, it was a good lesson. No one escapes tragedy! Stuff happens, and we move on.
Years later, I had the opportunity to hear radio talk show host Dennis Prager, author of the book “Happiness Is Serious Business” give a lecture. I will never forget something he shared, “You can judge how well you know a person by the extent to which you know their pain.”
We all “step in it.” Often through no fault of our own. To think we are the “Lone Ranger” in our pain is to not know our neighbors very well. Other people’s lives may seem perfect, but they carry their own pain. Much of the time, it’s hidden, just like ours.
It’s easy to judge others, but who knows what they might be dealing with?
Pain however, is only half of the dance. Life’s a two-step, and it’s the second step that counts. How we carry on, despite our tragedies, defines our existence.
Everyone dances the two-step. It’s not an easy dance to learn. I certainly haven’t mastered it.
But I’m getting a lot of practice.
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