“If that man can be happy, cheerful, and confident,” Harold said to himself, “how much more can I.”
Harrold Abbot was a chronic warrior. That is until one spring day in 1934 when, as he was walking down the street, he saw something that put an end to all his worries. “It all happened in ten seconds,” he told a friend years later, “but during those ten seconds I learned more about how to live than I had learned in the previous ten years.” At the time, Harold had been trying to run a grocery store—not easy in the middle of the Great Depression. He had gone heavily into debt, and had been forced to close his store a few days before.
Now he was on his way to the bank to try to borrow some money so he could go to a nearby city to look for a job. Harold had lost all his fight and faith. He walked like a beaten man. Then he saw a man coming down the street—a man who had no legs. The man was sitting on a little wooden platform equipped with wheels from roller skates. He propelled himself along with a block of wood in each hand. Harold met him just after the man had crossed the street and was starting to lift himself over the curb and onto the sidewalk. As the man tilted his little wooden platform to an angle, their eyes met and the man greeted Harold with a smile. “Good morning! It is a fine morning, isn’t it?” he said with gusto.
As Harold stood looking at him, Harold realized how rich he was. He had two legs. He could walk. He felt ashamed of his self-pity. “If that man can be happy, cheerful, and confident without legs,” Harold said to himself, “how much more can I with legs.” He could already feel his self esteem returning. He had intended to ask the bank for one hundred dollars. Now he had the courage to ask for two hundred. He had intended to say that he wanted to go to the city to try to get a job, but at the bank he announced confidently that he wanted to go to the city to get a job. He got the loan, and he got the job. For years afterwards, Harold Abbott kept the following words pasted on his bathroom mirror, and read them every morning as he shaved:
I had the blues
Because I had no shoes,
Until upon the street,
I met a man who had no feet.