Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Crossroads

Mile Marker 315:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth….


Apologies to Robert Frost.

My crossroads happened nowhere near the woods – yellow or otherwise.

My mom and I stood at the corner of 11th and Pine, utterly perplexed.

Mom was perplexed simply because she didn’t know the neighborhood.  But my eyebrows crinkled.  I squinted north and south. 

I could've sworn this was the place.   I’d biked past here hundreds of times.  I'd jockeyed those trolley tracks.  I'd dodged those Septa buses.  I REMEMBER. 

But it wasn't there.  So I took my best guess, and we turned the corner.

These days, choosing the right path is key.  In my prosthesis, every step counts.  Even one block out of the way makes a huge difference.  

 
We found the coffee shop.  Turns out, it was at 11th and Spruce, not Pine.  

But as luck would have it, there weren’t any tables available.  So we moved on to another place – one I’d never tried before -- around the corner on 10th Street.


Sometimes you think you’re in one location when really you’re somewhere else. 

A good sign??

And sometimes, that somewhere else turns out to be a better place.


More CROSSROADS lie ahead.  

In the distance, I see them looming like a desert rainstorm or shining like a promising sunrise -- depending on the moment. 

These upcoming decisions are wide and far-reaching.  

They don’t cram easily into the narrow column of a blog post.   Or into an afternoon stroll.

Yet they’re also too important to leave out.

I want you to know where I am.

Like the hiker in Frost’s poem, I peer down each road as far as I can.  I crouch low and crane my neck to get a better look at each outcome.

To move or not to move?   To give up the house I've worked so hard for?  For the lure of a one-floor apartment that might make life easier?  To search for indoor parking?   To face the insurmountable task of packing up my belongings?  To buy or rent?   Rent or sell?

And the question of yet more surgery.  To repair my irritated leg for a better socket fit?   But to risk more anesthesia?  More nights in the hospital?   More time to heal?   To take this leap -- this temporary setback -- for the possibility of a better, more comfortable, future?

These are just a few of the paths that lay before me.  

None is life threatening.  None is critical.  None must be chosen today.

They are just many, many more BUMPS IN THE ROAD. 

Where am I headed?  What does the future hold?

These questions lock me in like the steel grooves at the entrance to a carwash.  They harness me down with their weight and gravity.  They pull and propel me forward, but off my original course.


Coffee wasn’t really the purpose of Mile 315.   I was actually on a mission to find some very special gifts.   

So Mom and I made our way along the shady streets to SOTA -- Spirit of the Artist -- a wonderful little craft shop on Pine, midway between 10th and 11th.

Incredibly, I found exactly what I was looking for.


Maybe the future will be FREEING.  Maybe it’ll be easier than I think.

I crave a smooth road.  One where I’ll enjoy the walk.
  
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


3 comments:

  1. Whatever decisions you need to make, I know they will be well thought out and carefully decided on with the the pros and cons evualuated fairly. I hope your journeys lead you to the smooth road. Let me know if you figure out how to get there. I'm in search of a smooth road too....maybe a different smooth than the one you crave, but smooth none-the-less.

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  2. Sometimes our paths are mapped out, sometimes not. Sometimes we are diverted from the mapped plan that we designed and we encounter some bumps. So, we can reset out GPS's and make adjustments. I know that you have some decisions to make and I know that you'll weigh the pros and pros(no cons here). Sometimes the best paths just fall in our laps too.

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  3. I need to comment on your beautiful writing. I have grown to look forward to the "Thousand Miles" posting. Not only do your postings share how you are feeling; they share how you are really doing and what you see. Ricky, with all the challenges you face, you do one thing for all of us - you appreciate all that you see. You stop and notice. Maybe going slower is what makes this happen; maybe it's your perspective from injury. It derives from a lot of things. I know this posting is about choices. But there is a bigger picture here. You benefit all of us who see things through your eyes. Karen

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