Recently I decided to play my Greatest Hits album by Michael Bolton, and in light of the way I have been hobbling about the last week or so, I found that one of the more interesting and relevant songs for me personally (for anyone who has seen me at church or out about town tootling around on my crutches over the past few days) from that album is the song “When I’m Back On My Feet Again.” As might well be imagined, the song itself explores the symbolic meanings of being on one’s feet, although the lyrics are left a bit vague as to what that means. It seems likely that the singer is referring to the experience of overcoming heartbreak as learning to be strong. Yet while Bolton focuses his attention on the secondary meanings of the titular phrase of his song, we need to remember that secondary meanings draw what power they have from the primary meaning. It can be a very literal and very painful and very difficult matter to be on one’s feet.
As is often the case in choosing to write about such a topic, I speak from experience. When I went to visit some friends and distant family last week, I did so with a cane, hobbling may way about because some uric acid crystals had found their way to my left big toe, leaving me able to drive but not able to walk very well. That night, some other ones found their way to my left heel, where some remain up to this point, making it impossible for me to put much weight on my foot and requiring some rather awkward looking moving around. To be sure, it is a conversation starter, as people ask obvious questions and give their various gout remedies and ask what you did to yourself, all of which springs naturally from providing others an obvious entrance to conversation when one is showing that one cannot run away as quickly as one might do normally.
One of the more interesting aspects of today’s sermon was a reflection on the results of the Great Depression in leading some people to be very tight when it came to money. I do not necessarily think that being reluctant to part with one’s money implies in any way that one is being selfish at all. The experience of scarcity and insecurity and privation to the extent of the Great Depression is often something that leaves a mark on someone, and one can see that others are not being selfish if they are generous in other ways, such as with their time or with their food or something else of that nature. It is something worth taking into consideration, at least.