When I started planning this hike back last fall, I prepared a tentative timeline up to New Hampshire. As I regularly perused the schedule, I noted where I should be on my birthday. It wasn’t in a motel room in Daleville, VA. Then again, we never really know where we may be on any given day. When he turned 53 in July, 2010, my brother didn’t know that less than a year later he would be facing an ALS diagnosis. So while I can’t help but lament my injury, I’m reminded just how insignificant it is in the big realm of things. In fact, compared to Donald’s plight, it’s like comparing a penny to a billion dollars. Come to think of it, that’s not even a wide enough margin.
So as I continue to rest and hopefully heal, I’m also reminding myself of the virtue of patience. When we are generally healthy, time is the healer. When someone has a terminal illness, however, time is merely that space between life and death. But aren’t we all living somewhere along that indefinite line? No one knows exactly how much time we have left on this earth. What we do know is that every minute of every day is precious. We can’t waste even one second of the time we have been given.
So as I sit here enjoying a second cup of McDonald’s coffee, I’m trying to dwell on the positive rather than the negative. My family loves me and is supportive of this adventure, my friends have showered me with good wishes for success from the beginning, I’m generally in excellent health, and the Achilles will heal. I know how to rehab the injury, which I am doing. I also know that rest is important. So despite the setback, the trail awaits when I am ready to continue the hike.
And now, six hours later, much good has occurred. The new shoes, along with some high powered anti-inflammatories, have arrived. I’ve continued to “doctor” myself throughout the day, and I’m walking without the slightest limp. Plus the tendon generally feels a lot better. If progress continues (and there’s no reason to think it won’t), the plan is to resume the hike on Sunday. Now I just need to continue what I have been doing in the rehab department.
With time on my hands, I’ve thought about my brother often today. I greatly miss his birthday calls. Many times over the years Don would treat me to a Braves game later in the season to celebrate. I’ll never attend another game at Turner Field without remembering those special moments.
Things happen for a reason. We don’t know why, but we accept. So I’m accepting this minor setback with patience, until I can hike again on up the Appalachian Trail.