I broke a toe.
To many, this would be the smallest possible mishap that could possibly occur in life. A toe, a teeny-tiny little toe, was -very slightly – broken. It didn’t hurt much. It wasn’t a broken arm, a leg, or a life altering illness. This injury was a simple thing, no cast required. All I had to do to heal my little broken toe was wait.
But I struggled with this. I seek out movement the way an alcoholic seeks out his next drink. Usually, I feel like the type of person who can handle anything. But I couldn’t deal with this.
I craved running, walking, sweating, and feeling my heart beat fast. First, I cut out running. Then, I reluctantly gave up hiking. And when the doctor said I really just had to stop and rest my foot for a week, I cut out the walking too. The less I moved, the more my mood sunk.
It’s laughable that something so small could throw me for such a loop. As it turned out, movement was my lifeblood. It was a powerful tool in my arsenal, one that kept me happy and sane. When I was deprived of this outlet, life just felt kind of…blah.
After being off my foot for one solid week, I got a phone call from a friend. He was going to be running a three-day charity hike in two weeks-time. This desert trek was being held to raise money for a children’s physical rehabilitation hospital. Would I come?
I told my friend that of course, I would love to. But I had a broken toe. I would have to wait to see how it healed. “It’s no big deal,” I added, “But not being able to run and walk…that’s the worst!”
“Sure,” my friend commiserated, “It’s terrible. That was the worst part for me too when I broke my leg. But can you imagine how the children in our hospital must feel?”
My brain did a flip-flop. As much as I already knew that a broken toe was hardly one of life’s big tragedies, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sorry for myself. But when I stopped to think about the children’s hospital, how could I?
Isn’t movement one of the essential parts of being a kid? Isn’t running, jumping, and skipping a child’s lifeblood? How could I be anything but thankful for my own charmed life – a life where the cessation of movement for the span of one week was my greatest challenge?
I guess my broken toe wasn’t even really a problem. Rather, it was an opportunity: to gain a small bit of empathy, a tiny window into the world of hardship and challenge faced by others. It was a chance to feel gratitude for my ability to move freely and with ease. My toe helped me learn this lesson once again: life’s little mishaps can be blessings in disguise.
You can support the physical rehabilitation of children with chronic illness in Israel.