Tuesday, April 7, 2009


by Gale Sears

My husband, George, ties his shoelaces in a weird way. The first time I saw him tie his shoe, I laughed. Shallow, I know, but I did. I said, “What are you doing? I’ve never seen anyone tie their shoes like that.” He looked at me sheepishly and said, “Well, no one showed me how to do it when I was little. I had to figure it out on my own.”

You can imagine what a wakeup call that was to my superior I-tie-my-shoes-the-right-way sensibility. I apologized to my dear hubby, and used the incident as a metaphor for a broader life lesson.

Not everyone is going to approach a task, problem, challenge, or crisis in the same way; indeed, most often solutions are as individual as the individual. My mother and I used to argue about the best way to load the dishwasher. Boy! Was that a waste of time and energy? Who cares? The dishes came out clean regardless of how they were stacked. My sister and I do our laundry differently. My friend and I have a different liking for books and movies. At one time, my children journeyed off on different roads I certainly wouldn’t have chosen for them.

The philosopher, Hermann Hesse said, “Each man’s life represents a road toward himself.”

Life isn’t a ladder. I am not above or below anyone. Life is a circle. When I stand in a circle with my fellow life travelers, I can see them and they can see me. We can hold hands and help each other along. God is in the center of the circle—equally accessible to all. Each person has their own unique path to walk, and who am I to judge their journey?

A broadening of vision brings us to examine the history behind people’s decisions or behavior—therein we find understanding, tolerance, and compassion. When I knew the unsettled nature of my husband’s childhood upbringing, my compassion grew. Now when I watch him tie his shoes I do so with great tenderness and admiration, and the Native American saying, “Don’t judge another until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins,” has much greater meaning.


Cheri J. Crane said...

Gale, what a wonderful, insightful post. And it's true---since we don't always understand what someone else has endured, it's not fair to pass judgment. And wouldn't this world be boring if we were all the same. ;)

Valerie said...

Perfect story, Gale. I'm going to remember it and your husband's words when I see things done I wouldn't do them. And your words as well: Life is not a ladder. I'll be saying that to myself in the future, along with a favorite line from Desiderata "If you compare yourself with others, you will become vain and bitter." Thanks.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I like the ladder imagery, too. A circle is so much better. Thanks, Gale!