My Big Toe

The most marvelous thing happened today, and I alone saw it.
That was because it occurred on my right, big toe. I’ll explain.
Lately, I have felt old. Not Methuselah old, but old nonetheless. My gray-tinged beard reminds me that fifty is not too far away, my back shouts to be noticed when I bend incorrectly, arthritic hands no longer move nimbly on the guitar strings.
And then there’s the news. I read it and feel old. Wars and rumors of wars. Diseases and hatred. Somehow all that news seeks to shrivel me. I wake a grape, and after five minutes of this world I feel quite like a raisin.
I feel old.
But then a miracle happened, and it began with a noticing.
I was about to jam my right foot in a sock when I realized my dead toenail needed a clipping, so I wandered to the bathroom, found the tool, and returned to my bed to do the deed.
Now, you read correctly, I wrote dead. My right big toe is a sight. Due to injuries, I have lost its nail three times, the most recent occurrence happening two years ago. After the toe was crushed by a freezer, the nail began to die a slow death. I’d heard that often they don’t grow back, and so for two years, I watched this nail slowly perish from the top.
And then, today. I glanced at the bottom of the nail, and there it was. A little strip of pink visible below the sickly white.
I clipped the top, and the entire dead nail shifted, revealing more life underneath. Not just a strip, but half, no, three-fourths, no, almost the entire nail—pink and perfect.
For years, my toenail has been pulling a fast one, and beneath the appearance of death, there was new life. Silent. Secret. Unexpected.
And all this on me, the old guy, the past his prime guy. You might think this whole thing silly; you might think that a miracle is too strong a word for the discovery, but I tell you the resurrection of my big toenail quickened my heart. There was life left here. New life. Stuff I never imagined. All I had to do was clip the old stuff, the stuff that’s been hanging on, and life was waiting to reveal itself.
I don’t know where you are or how you’re feeling today. Maybe you’re like my kids, filled with glorious creativity and boundless energy. But I’m willing to bet that there’s a piece that feels old, old and hopeless and dead. Well, I have some good news for you; I don’t have a monopoly on silly miracles. Maybe all you need is a good clipping, a good pruning. No promises, but I’m coming to believe that life hides where you least expect it.
Take it from my right, big toe.

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