Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Of Rats and Buoys

Skate has been an expensive companion these past few days.  Friday she spent the day getting a combination platter of things done, which set me back several Benjamins.  Then, in the still and quiet of my peaceful 4:00 a.m. commute to work Monday morning, she ran over something (I think) in the center lane of Route 287.  Whatever she encountered demanded that she sacrifice one of her tires in tribute, which she did.  When I pulled over to the shoulder to see whether what the noise I heard escaping from 'neath the car for the previous 40 seconds or so looked at bad as it sounded, I learned that indeed it did.  What used to be my front right tire appeared to have been garroted.  It was not a pretty sight. 

Once upon a lifetime ago, I eschewed membership in Fascist organizations such as AAA and changed my own flat tires, irrespective of the time of day, weather conditions or location.  Now?  Now I am a card-carrying member of AAA, one of the singlemost important alphabet organizations in this country (right up there on the pantheon formerly reserved for groups such as the NFL and MLB), which meant that after surveying the damage, I got back into Skate, pulled my AAA card out of my wallet and dialed the 800# for assistance. It took a while for the assistance to arrive - slightly more than forty-five minutes - which meant that rather than reach the office at some point within my normal 4:30 to 4:45 window, I did not arrive until closer to 6:00 a.m.  Ah, watching the sun begin its ascent from the right shoulder of the nortbound lanes of Route 287 just a couple of hundred feet south of Mile Marker 24.3 was something quite magical indeed.

So, on Monday I was reminded yet again just how right Sir Bob Geldof's position on that damn day has been all these years. And then on Tuesday I was reminded just how right Mr. Einstein has always been. Various news sites, including Steve Politi's piece on, ran a story on Eric LeGrand of Rutgers University.  Mr. LeGrand - as anyone who has been in or around these parts at all since October 16th of last year - suffered a spinal cord injury while playing for Rutgers in a football game against Army, which injury left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.  His recovery to date has been remarkable.  What the ceiling is for that recovery I would not pretend to know.  Had I graduated at the top of my class in law school I would tell a lie right here about how my full-time devotion to the law prevented me from fully developing my knowledge of all things medical and scientific.  I did not so I cannot.  The real reason for my deficiency?  It is simply beyond my ability to comprehend.

I have never met Eric Legrand or any member of his family.  Yet, every time I read something about him and about them, the more amazed I am by him and by them.  He is a truly extraordinary young man buoyed by an indomitable will as well as a support network of family, including but not limited to his mom, his aunt and his uncle, that has been tireless in their devotion to him and unshaken in their belief that he will one day walk again.

I am struck every time I see a picture of Eric LeGrand or watch an interview of him by the expression on his face.  I am not a bright man but even I recognize a smile when I see one.  Perhaps it is indicative of the fact the injury to his spinal cord occurred at a level where it did not impact upon the muscles of his face.  With no physical infirmity keeping him from smiling, he has consistently demonstrated - to the benefit of all of us - in the six-plus months since his accident that there is no psychological or emotional obstacle that shall keep him from doing so.

Reading about what he told the group of reporters who gathered at his aunt and uncle's home in Jackson about his plans, including his pursuit of a career in broadcasting, made me happy that I had not made too big a deal about the temporary misfortune that befell Skate and me on Monday morning.  After all, we encountered nothing more than a pothole.  It slowed us down for a little while but sooner rather than later we got past it and continued on our journey. 

If life is indeed a highway then the view from the road depends upon your perspective.  It depends upon how you view the road ahead from the place where you happen to be at a particular point in time.  Or as the coach of the best little television show you probably never once watched during its five-year run always reminded his kids, "Clear Eyes.  Full Hearts.  Can't Lose."

If all of us had just a little piece of Eric LeGrand's perspective, then I think we would be more than just a little OK.....

....even on Mondays.


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