When I was the age of seven I returned to school after missing a year because of an illness that would shadow me my entire life. I didn't understand a lot about my surroundings as I entered the first grade and I don't remember much, but one of the few things that stands out for me is this girl, who for whatever reason, took to being not only a classmate, but a friend and a guide.
She partnered with me on class assignments, she stuck by my side trying to erase any feelings of awkwardness and the feeling of being alone, and she tied my shoelaces; literally. Anytime they came undone she would bend down and tie them up, saying "it's alright". This girl disappeared from my life after that year, moving away and leaving to another school; and even though some of the safety and comfort feelings I received from this first grader left with her, most of them remained and stuck with me.
I am proud of all that I have overcome and the things I have learned over the years, but I know that her presence for that little amount of time in my life made a difference because a little more than thirty-six years later and I still remember. Whenever I feel lost or alone, confused or misunderstood by others, I look down, and I remember shoelaces.
I learned at an early age, even if it took me a while to fully grasp, that even though things may come undone and bring us down, things can always be fixed and we can look up and move forward again. Whether we do it for ourselves or get a little help.
My shoelace cutie is somewhere out there, but whether or not she ever reappears in my life at some point, a part of her presence will always be felt. I am reminded of her every time I see an act of goodwill from one person to another, every time I see a helping hand bring someone up, every time I see a grown smile from self-accomplishment to overcoming a barrier.
I suppose you could say 'shoelaces' are the reason giving back and helping out has become a part of who I am and what have a passion for. 'Shoelaces' are the reason for my positive attitude, the outlook toward a silver lining regardless of circumstance.
We are all capable of tying our own shoelaces, even when times are tough, that I believe. But there is always someone willing to help us out, this I am certain of this as well.
Shoelaces and friendship and living life; a lesson I will never forget.