Tuesday, October 13, 2015
putting my best feet forward
"Getting older is filled with surprises. Who knew I would need hedge clippers to trim my toenails?"
The advice was from my writing mentor Joan Shinnick (the monkey on my back). Joan's letters were always replete with such interesting insights.
I thought of her this morning while floating in the pool reading Anne Lamott's Small Victories:Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. There is something almost womb-like in resting on a floating hammock on a sunny day.
The floating hammock, of course, is one of the two my friend Leo shipped down for his visit two months ago (pleasure in a box). Who knew that injected foam could bring so much joy into my life? And a bit of grief.
Anne, in writing about her mother's final years in a convalescent home, noted: "She had a card with the direct line of a nurse who helped her clip her terrible rhino toenails." There it was again. Age and thick toenails.
I admit when Joan first wrote me, I had no idea what she was talking about. Toenails? Hedge clippers? Youth blinded me to the inevitable. Now, I live the experience.
Today was the day I trimmed my toenails. I often let them go a bit too long simply because cutting them (especially, the nails on my big toes) is truly a chore. A bit like carving chunks of Carrara.
These days, my feet serve the same purpose as rings on a sequoia; my recent life story is there for everyone to see.
Trimming up my left foot was simple. If you ignore the fact that it is still a bit swollen from my foray into walking-for-excercise.
The right foot was an easier task. I have only three nails large enough to trim. I lost the nail on the big toe as a result of a hike with my brother in Bend (badlands rock -- yeah, man). Poor-fitting shoes. That seems to be a trend for me. As does foot injury through exercise.
The other missing nail? It was on my small toe. While recently rushing to catch a book from falling, I caught it on the couch in my living room. My foot went forward. The nail did not. At least, it was not an exercise injury.
You may recall I cut back on my essays in the hopes of spending more time on my Spanish and exercise. Due to a series of illnesses (intestinal disorder this week), I have not been able to do much walking other than short forays into town.
As for the Spanish, it will happen. Even though it hasn't yet.
I count that as inconsequential, though. While floating in my blue heaven this morning, another notion intruded. What my feet cannot show is who I really am.
Everyone we meet in our lives has some impact on us. Joan with her writing advice. Leo with his generosity of spirit. Anne with her stories of faith. Ozzie and his family enjoying my pool -- and the delightful floating hammocks. My recently-deceased friends Patti and Janet, who both taught me to how to better enjoy life. My friend Jordan with his limitless quest for experience. My mother and brother who are constant anchors in a confusing world.
Each one has diverted the stream of my life to some degree. Lives do not touch without leaving an imprint.
Even on our feet.