Saturday, April 5, 2014

Matching Toes

Toes. Some have a fetish for them but for most of us, they are a necessary component of our body. Some have ugly ones, some "beautiful" ones, some of varying lengths (often out of order!), and some are missing some. Some toes have nails that cut their loves ones under the sheets or while sitting on the couch and some have had them removed. Toes, though, if they could talk would tell quite the story, wouldn't they? Places they've gone, mud they've been covered in, punishment they've endured, stubs they have been pained with when they met the corner of furniture around home, and how they've been painted by a seemingly endless supply of nail polish. For me, I'll never forget sitting aboard a Navy ship sometime in the 90s with another ingrown toenail in my big toe. I've had two removed. The first was removed after the doctor numbing the area which meant this monstrous needle had to be inserted just north of my big toe to kill the nerves. If that makes you cringe, it should. It hurt like a mutha. First the needle, then my nerves crying out in pain...then nothing but tugging and pulling to pull my nail out from underneath my skin. The second time this happened (to the same toe), it was a much more direct approach. I'm sure you've squeezed your fingers to watch your fingertips turn white due to cutting off the blood flow. Well, just apply that concept to the big toe. The doctor applied a lot of pressure to cut blood flow and feeling to the affected area. He squeezed and jammed in his monstrous scissors to remove the nail again. Fast and done. Ugh! It almost makes me pass out just thinking about the pain! (I do have vasovagal syncope so I "may" be telling the truth!) 'em, hate 'em, but we do need them.
So are you grossed out yet? Like my toes? Yes, I have matching 3rd toes. Both of those nails will say "bye bye" soon enough. They are both victims of the 100K trail race three weeks ago. They were sore at first but now I feel nothing. Soon, they'll turn white and I shall rip them from my body. Gross, yes...but necessary. The toe of mention, by the way, from the story above is my big toe on the left foot...right side of that toe. So in terms of ugly feet...I'd say mine qualify. They are not symmetrically trimmed, they are a bit fuzzy, but they are mine. They have traveled some miles with me and done me well...and I have all of them so I'm thankful.

My feet and these matching toes have gone some places. They entered the world nearly 41 years ago and were softer than ever back then. Today, they are as tough as leather beneath. They have walked on many shores of Caribbean islands; walked beside Afghan soldiers in Afghanistan; stood on the tarmac as 30 U.S. Navy SEALs were loaded on two C-17s to be returned home from Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan to Dover, DE; ran through the rain with my bride to catch the cruise ship departure; traversed sections of the Appalachian Trail; covered thousands of miles in road and trail shoes; walked down the aisle and kept me upright as I said my vow to my wife over 21 years ago; stood atop an aircraft carrier in the middle of the night letting me watch the fire and glow of fighter jets taking off; been there through thick and thin, good and bad, glory and humility. They are my matching toes.

Where next? Well, I often (like always) think about "what next?" It's good to have goals and where you want to go or quite honestly, you may end of nowhere but precisely where you are today. I think a lot of us have a Bucket List and it may even be written down or just "penciled in" in our brains. In no particular order, here are some of mine:
  • Skydive at least once unassisted
  • Through-hike from start to finish on the Appalachian Trail
  • Road trip over weeks through the United States with minimal contact to the outside world
  • Live in an area where I can wear shorts 12 months out of the year
  • Love my wife no less than I do today when I'm old and gray
  • Small home at the beach and a small home in the mountains but not too far apart
  • Walk my girls down the aisle and love them/accept them no matter where their lives take them
  • Own a ragtop Camaro...and pay cash for it
  • Still be running when I'm 80
  • Hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant" when I stand before my God one day.
My matching toes are mine. They have a history and a future...but they're mine. What do yours say about you and where will they take you? One thing is certain: they are yours...and no one can change that...only you.

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