A Lesson From Luka

I’m inspired to share this account of an experience shared with me by a friend  about her young son, Luka. There’s something about the way he responded to a recent event in his life that brought me up short.

Luka is a smart, spirited, outgoing, rough and tumble boy of about five years old. His cheeks are rosy red, his hair tousled and sun bleached. The sparkle in his eyes is playful and has you wondering what he’ll be up to next. He’s one you keep your eyes on. My kind of kid. And he was born with Clubfoot. According to the Mayo Clinic this is a term describing a range of abnormalities present at birth where the feet are twisted out of shape or position. I wouldn’t have known it. This kids gets around. He’s been through a lot with his feet: castings, braces, even surgery.

Recently in a medical check-up Luka’s feet were found to have regressed a bit and new action needed to be taken. Here’s his mom’s email to me describing their time with the doc:

“Sadly, Luka’s feet are not ok, he has regressed to the point we are serial casting again, so I have to go to Casper with him every three weeks to get the casts changed for about four visits. He completely flipped out when the doc told him, escaped the building twice, kicked, screamed, bucked, farted, yelled, OMG!!!! Eventually, there were doctors and nurses blocking the hallways, he was careening into patients, running into consulting rooms trying to get away. This went on for about 40 minutes. I can kind of giggle now, but boy, I was sweating! It was like dealing with a (large) frightened animal, poor guy. We got them on once he realized it was not painful and he is fine, he can walk and run, just cannot get them wet. He did get up last night at 2:00 and cried until 4:00 because he was itching under the casts. Hopefully that side-effect resolves soon.”

Luka’s story reminds me of myself and so many people I know who react immediately (and often fearfully) to  what we don’t fully understand or feel we cannot control. Oh if we could only see the big picture from the start. Luka was able to calm down “once he realized it was not painful” or as restrictive as his previous treatments had been. In the end, his new castings will help him.

We cannot ever really know how the events in our lives will turn and twist. What seems certainly bad at first can turn out to be good in the end. Blessings that come our way can morph into curses. I am going to try like hell to take life as it comes without freaking out and letting my primitive little self control my mental and physical responses. And have faith that there’s growth to be had or lessons to be learned from everything we encounter in life.

P.S. We spent part of yesterday afternoon with Luka and his family out at their place on the edge of town. There he was, casted up, riding his bike, charging through the fields, leaping over creeks and into muddy ditches seemingly unaware of what he had originally perceived as hell on earth.

Thanks, Luka. Way to bust through the fear and charge on with life. You’re my hero.

Note to Self

Last Friday night I be-bopped into my guitar lesson buoyant with new music in my ears; Alison Krauss and Union Station‘s new music. I could go on and on about them but won’t here. What was of note to me then was how my teacher, Jim Nelson, responded to a song I played for him. Wait, no. I didn’t play it. AKUS played it and I shared it with Jim. It went something like this:

“Hey Jim, you have to hear this. It’s from the new Alison Krauss and Union Station cd. I wonder if we could ever do this song?”

“Okay, pop it in. Let’s listen” (The track is called, “Miles to Go” and it features Jerry Douglas on Dobro. I dare anyone to sit still through the song.) So I plugged my iPod into his big music blaster. I don’t think three notes had escaped from the speakers before Jim was playing along on his little Taylor cut away. It was stunning. This man came alive. The spark of musical inspiration was oozing from him. He grabbed hold of that song like he’d been waiting all his life to hear it. Like this was what he had been born to play. I know the feeling. The difference is I can never play along. You could see him listening hard, predicting chord patterns, anticipating the change when the bridge came along. Smiling all the while. Really, I had never been so close to such a mix of off-the-cuff joy and ability. It was an inspiration to be part of.

I’m lucky. Jim agrees to share this passion with me once a week. And he somehow has me believing that there’s hope for me to skillfully finger my way through a song I love, too. That’s a great teacher. How’d I get so lucky in little ol’ Lander, Wyoming?

Note to self: Let ‘er rip! When you feel it, go for it!

From the tips of my clumsy little fingers, Jim, thank you!