You Can’t Always Control What Happens To You (But You Can Choose Your Response)

“I realized I had two choices: spend my life bitter or accept it. I don’t want to spend my life bitter, so I won’t.”

Molly Burford


Ceejay Talam

During my junior year of college, I tore the menisci in my right knee for the second time in two years. I had to wear a bulky knee immobilizer and had to hobble around on crutches around Michigan State University’s campus during the start of the new fall semester.

During those first few days, I was crutching along to get myself lunch when a man around my dad’s age started walking next to me, limping and holding onto a cane. He turned and laughed and said, “I guess it’s cripples on parade today, huh?”

I laughed and then he inquired as to what caused my current predicament. I told him and he responded sympathetically and started alluding to his own situation. I paused and contemplated if I should ask what happened, afraid it could be taken the wrong way. He seemed open to discussion, however, so I decided to ask.

He turned to me and hit his legs with a cane, revealing the hollow sound that a pair of prosthetic legs makes. He then went on to tell me that he had been struck by a car on the side of a nearby freeway while trying to help his daughter…