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Which Way Do You Go?

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Which Way Do You Go?

Finding the proper footprints to follow.
Bernie S. Siegel M.D.
Bernie S. Siegel M.D. More by this author
Jun 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM

I would like to reveal the lessons you can from footsteps and amnesia. Let me begin with footsteps. I am sure most of you are aware of the well-known poem, “Footsteps in the Sand” about the man who walked with God where there were always two sets of footprints. At a time of great difficulty the man noticed only one set of footprints and complained to God that He was not there when he needed Him most. God replied, “I was carrying you during the difficult times and that is why there was only one set of footprints.”

On a personal level I have learned much from footprints. One of my more unusual habits is to enjoy jogging through cemeteries. I like to read the wisdom of the words on headstones and also notice the egotistical craziness of people’s last words. What would you share with the world with your last breath?

One day after a blizzard I was jogging through the deep snow. I realized how much of a struggle it was to have to make my own way without a plowed path or footsteps. The next day it was much easier. The snow was still soft and my footprints were easy to follow. Five days later the snow had frozen and the rigid ice made it dangerous for me to try and fit into the old footprints. I had to create a new path or risk breaking my ankles.

What I learned from all this is that at different times in my life I must make different choices. At times it is all right to be carried, at other times following in the footsteps of others is appropriate, at others to make your own way and at times it is proper to leave the old ways and start a fresh path. Your way is found by what feels right for you and not by looking for the easy way.

If you constantly follow in the steps of others you will lose your way in life. Remember their way can at times endanger you and be the wrong way. So find your way and let them go theirs. Be wise in choosing your guides. Do not follow those who dictate their way to you. If you follow their way, you will be lost forever.

Now let me get less philosophical and more practical as I tell you about my experience with amnesia. Several years ago after doing some work on our roof I stepped onto my ladder and the top rung broke. I fell onto the pavement and struck my head hard enough to give me a concussion. I awakened to a lovely woman bending over me asking, “Honey, are you all right?”

“Why are you calling me Honey?”

“I’m your wife.”

Well, I felt quite fortunate to have such an attractive wife. She then introduced me to the five children who were standing nearby. It turns out they were ours. I learned I had amnesia and that was why everyone seemed so nice. I couldn’t remember the problems they caused yesterday. My marriage was great. I got along with the kids fabulously and everything was going very well until my memory returned. Then I had to go into psychotherapy and marriage counseling.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful therapist who taught me that there was something better than amnesia for relationships. She said it would make me blind to some things as amnesia did but had many other assets. What do you think it was? Love.

Be sure the love you give is unconditional. Because conditional love is no different than following the wrong footsteps imposed upon you by others. That is not love.

Love clears the way, but doesn’t tell you which way to go. The Garden of Eden has no paths because you cannot choose the wrong direction when love is your compass. Walk in the footsteps of the great lovers. Follow their path and create a path of love and leave some deep and wide footprints for anyone to follow with ease.

About Author
Bernie S. Siegel M.D.
Bernie Siegel, M.D., is a retired general/pediatric surgeon who is now involved in humanizing medical care and medical education. In 1978, he originated Exceptional Cancer Patients (ECaP). Among other works, he is the author of Love, Medicine & Mi Continue reading