In terms of life lesssons, I have aced gratitude. I absolutely have that attitude of gratitude and have never taken anything for granted, even being able to sleep all night, or sleep in a warm, clean bed, or have food in my cupboards. I am reminded of it on Thursdays when I vacate my apartment to go have lunch and read a magazine or book in a restaurant while my cleaning woman is here. I come back to a sweet smelling, gleaming apartment with clean sheets on my bed and I have never yet not thought, "How lucky am I?"
Today as I was lingering on my front steps before returning to work, a young man in his 20s was struggling to walk along with an older man who was apparently his trainer or companion or nurse. The young man was shuffling stiff-legged, one tiny step at a time with his arms out in front of him for balance. A tremor in his arms and hands was getting worse with each step until the companion told him to lean against this brick wall of a building right next to me.
If I had to guess, I would say the young man had some sort of brain injury and was learning to walk and talk again. He was barely verbal, but could answer yes and no. The companion was very kind to him and as the tremor subsided as the young man leaned against the building, asked him gently, "Do you want to try for the rest of this block?" and the young man said yes and off they went.
It's hard to imagine anything much worse, but as my eyes followed them down the block, I thought that this might be a huge improvement over lying in a hospital bed and maybe the young man and his family are grateful that he is walking by himself even with such difficulty. Maybe he's gone from a walker to a cane to nothing.
They walked to the corner and then came back my way and I again thought how grateful I am that I can walk unaided, anywhere I want, that I can get up from the steps and go inside. But I can't help but wonder why this young man, why was his life so terribly interrupted. And that's why I have also never forgotten some little prayer I read once that said, "Thank you God for a normal day." I always think of that -- that being able to do nothing more than to go to work, eat dinner, watch tv and go to bed can be a dream come true.
Of course, my wish is that I see this young man in a month or so and be able to report great improvement in his walk.