Relax those Toes
Last Wednesday was my fortnightly appointment with my surgeon. I knew what to expect when I hobbled into his surgery that day. He’d make sure my recovery was going well. He’d get the nurse to remove my bandage, clean my wounds and fix a fresh bandage over them. He would also remove the pin he’d fixed across my foot. (Ugh! But that’s another story!)
As I lay there on the bed after the nurse had removed my bandage, I looked at my funny toes. There they were, sticking upwards as usual. The nurse smiled. She said ‘Relax your toes’. I looked at her. “I am relaxing them’. It was her turn to look at me. Surprised. I knew she didn’t believe me. My husband and I exchanged a knowing glance. We’d heard that before. She asked me to take a deep breath. I did. She asked me to exhale. I did.
Still no change in the toes. They were relaxed. Shan and I knew that my toes looked different to other relaxed toes. They were unique. (Yes, like their owner.) But they did stick upwards as if I was straining them. Only I wasn’t! A bit later, the surgeon came in. He looked at my toes. ‘Relax your toes’ he said. I sighed. Would people stop asking me to relax my toes? Before I could respond, the friendly nurse piped up. ‘They are relaxed. I even got her to breathe in and out’.
‘Oh!’ said the surgeon. He pressed the middle of my foot. His quick action relaxed the toes beautifully and they flopped down. He looked happy. He pointed out that when I stood up the toes would 'behave' - and look as they’d done when he’d pressed the middle of my foot. Relief flooded his face - rippling waves reaching the far end of the shore and petering out. Shan and I exchanged another quick knowing glance at one another.
We were both remembering a day many years ago when we’d been newly married. Another doctor had echoed the same words ‘Relax your feet’. I’d said quickly ‘They are relaxed’. She hadn’t believed me. But the problem is that my toes are pretty odd. And relaxed – even when they didn’t look it!
We all make assumptions don’t we? Many of our assumptions are based on our own experiences or our own ideas of how the world works. Many of our judgments on the behaviour of others too are based on what we think is normal. But then...what is normal?
My toes don’t look relaxed to a normal person. Ah! They were never normal to begin with. But then – they were normal enough for me, weren’t they? I can laugh about my funny joints and strange hyper-mobile feet and toes. I can laugh at myself since I know I am far from perfect. I can laugh because I'm fine with that.
There are other things that are not as funny. When we make assumptions we often judge. I remember an instance when I made a remark that was meant to strengthen a relationship. How shocked I’d been when it was considered very differently to what was intended. It became an enormous issue that went on for ages. Amazing! It made me realise that people all see things from different perspectives. How easy it is to get something wrong. To misunderstand. To judge. To quibble over small stuff. Because of course I often discern the world in one way and you discern it in another.
How important then that I remember ….
When anyone behaves strangely or speaks hurtful words – I should remember that my perception on what was said or done may be totally different to what was meant. I’m sure it would help if I try to understand what was intended rather than how it sounded?
Don’t make mountains out of molehills. It’s not worth it!
Forgive. Laugh. Move on.
The book of James expresses it very well.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
Good advice don’t you think? Let me remember….
Quick to listen
Slow to speak
Slow to become angry