NEW BLUE SHOES
Many years ago, when I was still in graduate school studying Physical Therapy, I happened to be doing an internship in a small community hospital which had nursing home attached to it on one end. One day the nurses called and said that they wanted me to assess an elderly Alzheimer’s gentleman to see if some therapy would help him get moving around better, so they could care for him more easily.
He was a skinny, smiling old chap who couldn’t have weighed more than 90 pounds, who just looked completely content to be lying on the bed. His dementia was advanced enough that he couldn’t really understand things too well or follow directions for what we wanted him to do. I suggested the nurse and I try to get him up, but I didn’t want his feet to slip on the tile floor, so we placed some of those extremely attractive hospital socks on his feet.
As I helped to spin him around to sit up on the edge of the bed, his body went rigid like a board (I’m not kidding at all – he was stiff just like he was strapped to a plank), and we couldn’t get him to bend and the waist and sit up.
Using my very young therapist intuition, I placed a transfer belt around his waist, and suggested to the nurse who was on the other side of the patient, that if we tilted him forward and lifted on the belt, that perhaps once we got him up onto his feet, his instincts would kick in and his standing reactions would take over and then we could see how he could move around.
I put my foot in front of his on the floor as a brace, and we gave a 1, 2, 3 count and lifted on the belt to tip him up onto his feet, but the old guy surprised us. As we lifted, he deftly and nimbly stepped over my foot, took a flurry of skittering little stiff-legged strides across the floor and right up the drawers of the dresser which was next to the bed!
For a moment the nurse and I were in complete shock and astonishment as we both held on to the belt around his waist and behind his back and the little old man levitated completely stiff in the air with us holding his trunk and his feet now sitting on top of the dresser! Talk about planking – this guy was the Master!
In the midst of this shocking moment, the old man looked down at his feet, with those blue hospital socks, then turned and smiled at me as we held him in the air and proud as could be asked me, “Have you seen my new blue shoes?”
We couldn’t help but burst into laughter of the hilarity of the situation, and I was afraid we might drop him, so I finally simply scooped him up in both of my arms and laid his plank-stiff body back on the bed.
I’ve thought back on this situation some over the years, and it still brings a smile to my face, but has also taught me a few lessons as well, about how often times as we go through life, we can easily get distracted about the reality of what is going on around us. We can so easily get caught up in the less important things in life that we fail to notice what is most important. In essence, we get so focused on our “new blue shoes” that we don’t see what life is trying to teach us in order for us to improve.
For some, their distracting “new blue shoes” might be their job and they become so focused on this that they mistakenly think that is who they are and what defines them.
For others, the “new blue shoes” may be a greed for money and acquisition of more material “things” that they think will buy them happiness, but which are often hollow, unfulfilling, and only bring temporary false-joy.
For others, the “new blue shoes” may be excessive, time-sapping video games, television or social media which dull the senses and waste away potential productivity.
In reality, the potential list of “new blue shoes” we focus on is vast and endless. But if we could take a minute, loosen up our perspective and shift our focus away from those “new blue shoes” and look at the larger reality around us, we would see that there are forces in our lives which are trying to help us actually become something better than what we are in our current state of rigidity. The purpose of life isn’t to get “new blue shoes” but to experience growth, change and improvement that we can carry over into the eternities beyond this mortal realm.
A loving God and Savior have provided many sources of help and guidance along the way to achieve this change… if we aren’t too rigid to let them. Some of these helping sources come in the form of family members, sibling, parents, grandparents who care about us and are filled with wisdom and experience to help us through our struggles.
Another source of strength may come from religious leaders, life counselors, or caring friends.
Other inspired sources of guidance beyond our own understanding come in the wonderful power of prayer and meditation.
Or the Holy Scriptures.
And even in looking beyond ourselves to provide meaningful service to others.
If all we are focused on in this life are the “new blue shoes” (trivial things of no lasting importance), we will miss out on the true sources of peace, love, joy and fulfillment which are found in devoted caring relationships with our spouse.
The “new blue shoes” can also, if we are not careful, rob us of the precious moments and years with our family and children, which all too quickly grow up and move on with their own lives.
We would all do better to shift our focus from whatever our “new blue shoes” are in our lives, (which we might think are cool but are really just cheap hospital socks of worth that will wear out and fall apart rather quickly when put under stress) and instead focus more on others around us, we will find that life is a wonderful learning and growing experience with plenty of help along the way to raise us up, allow us to stand and become something better than what we are today.
As the good Master said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Matthew 6:19-20