Nobody compares to John Wayne's heroic stature as his characters endure a multitude of hero tests, always to come out on top, even if he should become injured or dies in the process, as he sometimes does. But usually he survives his trials and tribulations intact, with greater insight as a result. In The Searchers he comes to the realization that he needn't kill his niece for living with the Comanche and becoming assimulated. Understanding what family meant was the ultimate saving grace.
Three days ago, I reclaimed my shit-kickers from my closet, where they were buried in the corner under two backpacks and a duffel bag. The shafts, the floppy top half of a boot, were scrunched up under the mess and badly creased. "Well, Pilgrim," I can hear Duke reprimand, "that type of treatment is not befittin' a pair of Justin's, even if they are ropers,"
The rubber soles of my New Balance cross trainers have been catching on the walking surface making it difficult to take a step, so I have decided to put them away for a while. While the smooth leather soles of my boots allow me to slide as if I were two-steppin', instead of sticking, which can freeze me up and might cause me to take a tumble. I am trading comfort for efficiency. Also, the boots do not allow me to wear my brace. I can't even think about putting my foot in while my brace is on.
I have a louder style of walking, as well. The floor echoes with the planting of my hard heel followed by a distinguishable slap of my leather sole on the floor. Everybody knows there is someone coming, no matter how much I try to tone it down. "Get your boots under control, Vic!"
The only compensation and reassurance I have is that the shaft of my boot attempts to stabilize my ankle and tries to keep it from rolling. Even then, I had a close call while walking on the garden path today, which is gravel and uneven. The lateral malleolus (the bone that sticks out on the right side of the right ankle) nearly touched the ground as my ankle rolled over. I had to stop and regroup in order to stabilize the ankle, evert my foot, setting it flat on the ground, then calmly went on my way.
While my boots are snug on my feet, I can summon my inner John Wayne by walking tall (and with a little swagger), keeping my shoulders square and chin up. While I may not sympathize with the Duke's politics, I nevertheless admire his film achievements and what he stood for in American culture. I feel that I can draw strength from John Wayne's personas that will help me through the post stroke scenes of my life.