I once met a very old, tired, crippled man
who shuffled along with a cane in his hand,
for his back was weak and his legs were bent,
and he walked with a limp wherever he went.
I thought, O God, how cruel is life
that it can bring such struggle and strife
on any whom it chooses to inflict such a curse
as bent back and legs, and a shuffle, and worse.
So I asked the old man, not wanting to offend,
to tell me if he could, as friend to friend,
just what he thought about the justice of it all,
and if he ever yearned to stand straight and tall.
He replied not a word, but his eyes seemed to say,
"Son, I have a lesson to teach you today."
He then motioned for me to follow along,
and he shuffled away down a street called "Wrong".
As he moved painfully on, he began to talk
in a trembling voice that matched his walk.
He said, "When I was young I chose this road,
ignoring the sign and the ill it bode,
and the longer I traveled this cursed way,
the greater the price of folly I paid.
Until finally no longer could I stand straight
under the burden of the growing weight
of the determination to do it my way;
I made the choice, and the price I still pay."
With every step that I took in his wake,
my legs grew weaker and my legs did quake.
"Let us turn about!", I cried in alarm,
"How could you expose yourself to such harm?"
He looked at me then with unreadable eyes,
and said, "Son, you have chosen wise.
If you go back now and follow the Light,
you will see the street which is called "Right".
Take it and follow the markers you find;
that is not to say life will always be kind,
but you will be strong and agile and fleet,
with a song in your heart and wings on your feet,
so that you can outrun the evil I've seen
and end your journey in pastures of green."
"What will become of you?", I inquired,
not wanting to leave him crippled and tired,
or without help on this dangerous street;
but he just ducked his head and shuffled his feet,
and replied in a voice older than time,
"You go your way, and I'll go mine".