I have a tattoo of a frog on the top of my right foot. I drew him myself. When people ask me why I always say that when I take a step, he hops.

But there’s a story behind that.

I was tree planting one year. While planting you need to move fast, the more trees in the ground the more money you would make. I was never all that great at it but I stuck with it and at the very least I kept going.

One rainy day, on a hill surrounded by tree stumps and torn up branches, I threw my shovel into the ground to open up space in the dirt for a little tree but as the blade of my shovel came down a frog hopped onto the path. The shovel came down onto his shoulder.

The frog’s arm was cut off. Not completely, though, there was a small flap of muscle/skin hanging on (if you’ve ever read Harry Potter, think of Nearly Headless Nick) and the frog was wriggling around on the ground, likely in a lot of pain.

I was a little shocked. I stared at the frog a little while, and it never made a sound. I looked around, walking a few steps to see if someone was nearby. Probably for moral support, but I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. I didn’t know if I should try to kill the frog, knowing that with it’s injury it would be easy prey and have difficulty moving around to get it’s own food. I decided to go back to check on the frog.

He was gone, somehow moving himself back into the brush. I still wonder if his arm wasn’t as bad as I thought. Either way, he’ll figure things out for himself.

I’ve had other tragedies in my life, ones that easily surpass the armless frog in the scale of life changes and impact, but the frog gave me things to think about, which turned into something that I learned.

The memory of that frog comes with me every time I take a step forward. Bad things will happen, you must remember them but don’t ever stop moving forward. Things will sort themselves out as long as you do.

He’ll remind me, when things get troublesome, to keep hopping.