Five years ago, I hung up my car keys for the last time. It was a hard decision, after all I was giving up my independence, but I knew it was a safe decision. I decided years before that I wanted to be the one to make the call to stop driving, not an accident. So I did.
It took me a while to grieve over my loss of independence. And though it is now normal to me to be a non-driver, it is still hard at times, especially when I hear comments like:
“You don’t drive? You’re not missing out.”
“Oh, I hate driving!”
“Be glad you don’t have to deal with traffic and stupid people on the road.”
“I avoid driving as much as possible. It stresses me out.”
I understand that people make these kinds of comments with the intention of making me feel better about not driving. I can appreciate that. However, when people say things like this to me, I can’t help but wish that they could step into my shoes for a day. Then they would see that simple trips to the grocery store suddenly aren’t so simple. Emergency visits to the doctor or vet become that much more stressful. And relieving that cabin fever itch requires a little more planning. Are you going to take Uber? Call your mother-in-law? Maybe a friend? You can’t just jump in your car and go. Sorry.
Now, if you could step into my shoes and look through my eyes, would you really experience things the same way? Would you feel the same way? I had always assumed, “Yes, of course.” But, I have a new perspective on this after reading a blog post “The Miles I Walk” by The Chatter Blog. The following excerpt particularly stuck out to me.
“If I walked a mile in your shoes they would no longer be your shoes. They would be mine. I may be traversing a path you had set upon but my feet will not travel it the same. I will step differently. I will tread heavier, or lighter, or skip when you plod, or slow down where you may sprint. Nor will my heart, my thoughts, and my reactions be identical to yours. And even if I walk with you, no matter how closely I walk with you I cannot walk a mile and experience your mile.”
I do believe that you could gain a better understanding of what I’m going through by stepping into my shoes, but my experience and my perspective is unique. Only I will feel exactly this way. My best friend who also has Usher Syndrome and has had similar experiences and struggles, definitely identifies with me, but even her miles are different from mine. Her miles are different because her family background is different. Her childhood was different. Her personality is different. And her perspective is different. So her miles and my miles will be different.
I appreciate this new perspective. Perhaps I’ll stop focusing on how others don’t understand me and wishing that they could walk in my shoes. Perhaps, instead, I’ll enjoy the miles I walk, knowing that these are my unique miles to walk. Miles that I choose to walk along with my Lord.