Saturday, December 28, 2013

the footstool

when i was 18, i met my father for the first time.   one of the first stories he told me was of the footstool.   he made me a small footstool for a necklace and i wore it for a long time.    although the necklace has been lost to moving and time, the story has stuck with me.   i prefer the memory since it is the only one of the two i can take with me.

the story goes something like this - (it has been a few years since i heard the story so the details may be off but the gist is the same) -
every night my dad would need to get up in the middle of the night.   you know how that goes.   well, he tried to not wake the house full of kids and wife, so he didn't turn on the light.   this would normally be great and not a problem.   he knew where the furniture was.  certainly a man can navigate his own home in the dark, right?
yes, unless you have kids.   the kids were pretty good about the toys, but there was this little footstool that was just the perfect height.   it was great for climbing up, sitting down, hopping over, driving cars under.   everything!  that meant that it got used a lot.   that means it was never in the same place twice.   so, as my dad would carefully and quietly make his way through the house . . .thump!  found the footstool with his toe, banged into it with his ankle or just tripped over the darn thing. . . e v e r y night.  

you would think that at some point he would turn on a light, get a flashlight, light a candle, something.   no!   this was becoming a matter of pride!   this was war!   he was bound and determined to get through the house without the stool beating him!   it's just a footstool, right?   right!

night after night, my dad stubbornly stubbed his toe.   then, he finally decided that his toe was more important than his pride.   toes tend to hurt more than pride after a while.   he turned on a light.   the funny thing is, by turning on the light, he won.   his toes won!

it has always reminded me of how silly our pride, our competition, our stubbornness makes our lives harder, sometimes even painful.   we work so hard at doing something the way we want to do it, that we miss the simple answer that will allow us to move forward.

look around, turn on the light and really look at what is causing you pain, what is it that is making your life harder than it really needs to be?   what is it that just needs a little light?